Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake

Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake

I’m sure you’ve heard of “Texas Sheet Cake” before, and it is likely one of those nostalgic desserts you grew up eating. What I don’t understand is how on Earth people gave this sheet-cake-frosted-bars-delightfulness the boot, as it is rare to see on a gathering spread anymore.
Adding a pinch of cinnamon to the batter of this sheet cake changes the flavors up just a bit. Spice is something that you rarely find in a chocolate cake batter, but for me in this case is a welcome addition. One thing that distinguishes a great chocolate cake recipe from an average one is…


Iowans are Lucky. Our local AE Buttermilk, gives us an unfair advantage. As proven in my trip to California last year (when I had to use the supplied buttermilk for a cooking contest) I had no idea how the texture of buttermilk could vary. The buttermilk I was supplied didn’t hold a candle to the AE Buttermilk I was used to using at home. It was thinner, not thick and voluptuous like I was used to practicing with my recipe up to that point, because I had never known any other buttermilk than that of AE Dairy. I never take for granted a good ingredient, especially a local ingredient that is sourced in my home state and processed within 10 miles of my house.

The AE Buttermilk in this brownie/cake recipe works in two different ways: the acidity in the cocoa interacts and tenderizes this simple cake with no hassle and gives the leavening power of the baking soda a significant boost. Win-win.

Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake

Do you like fudgy brownies? Frosted brownies? Cake-like brownies? I’ve always preferred cake-like brownies with a softer flavor, not too cocoa-y. The AE Buttermilk in the batter does provide a nice richness but also balances out some of the sweetness as well. The frosting is great too, the texture is spot on and holds up really well if you are at a picnic or encountering warm weather. Here’s a trick: If you spread the icing on warm, it is smooth and glossy. I like to wait until it cools just a bit, then you get a totally different texture. You can also mix it up a bit and use AE Half and Half instead of AE Whole Milk in the frosting. With half and half, the texture of the frosting is richer and more flexible because of the additional fat.
I love to garnish this treat with some sweet little sugar crystals. We plan to make this special cake for a friend over the weekend. Check out the notes section for more variations on pan sizes. And, because I wanted to commemorate my love of BUTTERMILK… here’s a picture of the pig I wanted to name “Buttermilk”. I thought it was the perfect name, until I was informed that her name was “Curly” because of her tail. I never win the name-game! For now… she’ll be “Curly Buttermilk”. (Just don’t tell my daughter.)
Also, I want to note for full disclosure purposes that this was the only photo in the highlight reel that turned out because about 2 seconds after I snapped this picture ‘Curly Buttermilk’ sprung up off of her four cloven hooves and took off on a tear all throughout the yard, nearly taking my son down with her. Now you understand why Mama had to come inside and bake a little to calm my nerves! Just so you know, when you zig… a pig won’t zag. They aren’t that bright. Here she goes…
Until next time! Learn more about AE Dairy and connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube for great recipe ideas and news of exciting new products coming down the pipeline! You can find me hoarding AE Buttermilk and Toasted Onion Sour Cream Dip this time of year!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of AE Dairy via RhythmOne. The opinions and text are all mine.

Chocolate Buttermilk Sheet Cake

Much like Texas Sheetcake, with some important changes.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings: 1 sheet pan of bars, 36 or so
Author: Cristen


For the Cake

  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup AE Buttermilk

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1/3 cup AE Whole Milk may use other milk, or AE Half and Half
  • 3 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 4 - 4 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 pinch Salt


  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease a half sheet sized baking pan; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine margarine, oil, water and unsweetened cocoa. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until boiling. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Pour into large mixing bowl. Add sugar, flour and baking soda and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add salt, cinnamon, vanilla and buttermilk, beating until just combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cake for 30 minutes, then frost. Frosting: In a medium saucepan, combine butter, milk, and cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until boiling. Remove immediately from heat. Immediately add 4 cups of powdered sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat frosting until smooth, add vanilla and salt. Use additional powdered sugar as needed to achieve desired consistency in frosting. Frost bars and serve.


You can bake this cake in a 9x13 inch pan. Increase baking time to 35 minutes at 350 degrees instead of 400. The thicker cake will need a lower temperature and a longer bake time to finish baking.

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  • Reply Beth Ann July 18, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Yum. I have such great memories of Texas Sheet Cake made by my mother in law. There really is nothing like it but I bet this is a good substitute for her recipe!

    • Reply Cristen July 23, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      It is a really nostalgic dessert! Did she use cinnamon in hers? It changes the flavor in a good way (for me!).

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