Memorial Day Weekend. The official start of summertime outdoor activities. And potluck picnics. During my childhood, I vividly remember women proudly bringing their very best "covered dishes" to share. The ones they became known for through the years. In the present day, more often than not, contributions have become ones hurriedly snagged from the grocery aisle or deli. Perhaps enroute to the potluck? You and I may even have unknowingly stood in the same checkout line with our plastic quart of potato salad, rotisserie chicken, and gallon of lemonade. Despite having been affected by life's busyness, too, I do long for the potlucks portrayed in "Church Basement Ladies" musicals.
Photo: Mark Frohna Marcus Center for the Performing Arts Milwaukee WI June 2011
While planning what to bring to a potluck that Dick and I attended earlier this month, my mind wandered back to when I was a young wife and mother. Texas Sheet Cakes were popular. According to my online research, the Texas Sheet Cake started showing up in the early 1960s and is a simplified German Chocolate Cake. Whereas a German Chocolate Cake requires melting chocolate, creaming butter, and beating egg whites, Texas Sheet Cake requires fewer steps and it is baked in a 12 x 18 x 2 jelly roll pan instead of three layers. Both cakes were frosted with a coconut pecan cooked frosting. The Texas Sheet Cake that I am familiar with is spread with a chocolate powdered sugar frosting sprinkled with chopped pecans.
The original cake recipe calls for 2 sticks butter and 2 cups sugar and the frosting has 1 1/2 sticks butter and 3 cups powdered sugar! I set about to find a healthier version. The Burnt Apple Blog's Healthified Texas Sheet Cake uses 1/2 cup bean puree to replace the two sticks of butter, then I reduced the cake recipe's 2 cups sugar to 3/4 cup. I drastically reduced the butter content in the recipe's frosting and made ½ recipe which produced a thinner layer but still plenty of coverage. It’s all that’s needed. My revamped version tastes every bit as good as the over-the-top fat-and-sugar-laden original recipe.
Revamped Texas Sheet Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar (I used ¾ cup. Perfect.)
¼ cup cacao powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt
¾ cup hot water
½ cup bean puree (Burnt Apple Blog's substitute for original Texas Sheet Cake's 2 sticks butter)
½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
Sift dry ingredients together. In another bowl, whisk wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and stir until ingredients are incorporated. Don’t overmix. Pour batter into an oiled or greased 9X13 cake pan. Bake at 375° for 20-25 minutes until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely, then frost.
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cacao powder
1 ½ tbsp milk
1 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
Mix and spread over cooled cake. Sprinkle with chopped pecans, if desired.