Classic South Texas Recipes: Texas Sheet Cake - The Bend Magazine

Classic South Texas Recipes: Texas Sheet Cake

This recipe for Texas Sheet Cake uses brown, butter, cinnamon and Mexican vanilla for a contemporary twist.

texas sheet cake

Photography by Jason Page | Props provided by 20/20 Vintage & Sweet Life Bake | Styled by Jarred Schuetze

The most popular plus-one at housewarmings, bunco parties and funerals is the Texas Sheet Cake. The rich chocolate dessert became a fixture at get-togethers after making its debut in The Galveston Daily News in 1936. “Texas Funeral Cake” assumed its ominous moniker thanks to decades of prominence at wakes and memorial services in the Lone Star State. 

Baked in a jelly roll pan, Texas Sheet Cake is thinner than most sponges and takes less time to prepare. The sticky frosting is usually studded with toasted pecans akin to German chocolate cake. To bring a contemporary twist to an old favorite, this recipe adds deeper flavor notes with coffee and brown butter, and a dash of cinnamon and Mexican vanilla pay homage to our area’s culture. Equally delicious served warm or at room temperature the next day, Texas Sheet Cake is good anytime, all the time. 


Yields one 10×15” Cake




  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting pan


  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 6 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Topping: 1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10×15 inch jelly roll pan and dust it with sifted cocoa powder. Toast pecans in a skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. 

For sponge: Whisk flour, sugars, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl until combined. In another bowl, beat eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract until mixed. 

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in coffee and cocoa powder and bring to a boil. Remove mixture from heat and whisk into wet ingredients. Add egg mixture to batter and whisk until smooth. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and level off with a spatula. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the center of the cake is set. 

For icing: Meanwhile, prepare the icing by cooking butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring occasionally, cook the butter until it develops brown sediment at the bottom of the pan and a nutty flavor. Remove butter from the heat and whisk in the remaining icing ingredients. The final product should be a thin icing, more like ganache than buttercream. Pour icing over warm cake. Use a spatula to evenly distribute the icing over the entire cake surface. Dot the cake with toasted pecan pieces and serve warm or at room temperature. 

Next, a recipe for homemade tamales.