Recipe: Chocolate “Sheep” Cake

Known more traditionally as Texas Sheet Cake, this recipe is probably the one that reminds me most of home. Until I was in my early 20s, I genuinely thought it was called “Sheep” cake and will now never hear the end of it. It’s a cake that we’ve requested over and over again throughout the years, a simple, moist chocolate dessert that’s even better when mashed with a fork into a lump of ice cream.

One of my favourite Christmas gifts this year was a book from my mom, full of hand-selected and hand-written recipes passed down through the family or shared by friends. It’s a book that I will use often and one day add to and pass on to my own daughter (only 2 weeks to go!) many years from now.

Of course, the “Sheep Cake” made the cut.


For the cake –

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 stick butter (approx 113 grams)
  • 1/2 cup crisco (can find this at Partridges or other American food shops or substitute more butter, so about 56 grams more)
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the frosting –

  • 1 stick butter (approx 113 grams)
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 6 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1 box powdered sugar (about 450 grams icing sugar) – or to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400F / 204C.

In a large bowl, sift together flour and sugar.

In a saucepan, place butter, crisco (or more butter if substituting), cocoa and water.

Stir well and bring to a rapid boil. Pour over your flour and sugar mixture.

Stir well.

Add buttermilk, eggs, baking soda and vanilla.

Mix well and pour into greased sheet cake pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Start on the frosting about 5 minutes before the cake is ready.

Put butter, cocoa and evaporated milk into a saucepan.

Stir while bringing to a boil. Remove from heat. Add powdered (icing) sugar.

Beat well and spread while quite hot. All of the little sugar lumps will probably not dissolve despite your best efforts which is all part of its rustic charm.

If you want, you can add chopped pecans or walnuts, but I usually skip them in favour of raspberries!

Excellent served with ice cream!


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