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How To Make My All-Time Favorite Chocolate Sheet Cake

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

I don’t make my mom’s famous Nacogdoches Cake very often. Don’t get me wrong, this sheet cake is one of my all-time favorites! But any time I thought about making it at home, I would usually talk myself out it because I was certain it would never taste as good as hers. (My mom has a secret magical power that makes everything taste better, and that power does not appear to have been passed down to me.)

But a little while ago, I decided it was high time to give this cake another try. When I was mixing it up, it occurred to me that I’d never seen Nacogdoches Cake in a bakery, or even heard anyone else talk about it other than my immediate family.

It also occurred to me that I had no clue what the word “Nacogdoches” meant! So I did what any good blogger would do, and I turned to the internet. It turns out that Nacogdoches Cake is actually just another name for Texas Sheet Cake. (And here I thought I’d never had Texas Sheet Cake before!)

My mom’s version of this popular sheet cake is named specifically after Nacogdoches, Texas for some inexplicable reason. Just one of those mysterious and quirky family traditions, I guess!

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

So how does Nacogdoches Cake differ from a REGULAR chocolate cake? The main difference between the two is that you cook the icing, then ice the cake while it is still hot. This makes for a fudge-y and tender cake that practically melts in your mouth! I don’t know if it’s a common practice, but my Mom always put chopped walnuts in her icing. I’m fine with walnuts, but I much prefer almonds, so that’s what I used here. (You could use any nut you like, though.)

All this cake talk is making me hungry! So let’s get started, shall we?

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

My Mom’s Nacogdoches Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup butter (or 2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter (or 1 stick)
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa
  • 6 Tbsp milk
  • 16 oz powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Cake Directions:

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

Mix together the flour, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

In a separate small bowl, whisk the 2 eggs and set aside.

Add the butter, shortening, cocoa powder, water, vanilla, and buttermilk to a saucepan, and place it on your stovetop over medium heat. Stir until the ingredients are all melted together, and the mixture has just started to boil.

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

Combine the melted mixture with the large bowl of dry ingredients. Stir, then add the 2 eggs and mix until combined.

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

Pour the batter into a greased and floured sheet pan. Bake at 400º for 12-20 minutes. (The cook time will vary depending on the depth of your cake pan, so it’s better to just keep an eye on it.)

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

Icing Directions:

While cake is baking, add the butter, cocoa, and milk to a saucepan. Place on your stovetop and bring to a boil.

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

Turn heat down to low, then add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whisk or beat until the icing is very smooth, then stir in 1/2 cup of chopped, roasted almonds.

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

Pour the finished icing onto the hot cake.

Mom's Nacagdoches Chocolate Cake

Spread the icing quickly, but be gentle! Let cool, then cut and serve!

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  • I LOVE this sheet cake…whatever name you want to call it!
    Just a fun story about your Nacogdoches…
    The Chief’s Sons
    Natchitoches and Nacogdoches

    by Bob Bowman
    Bob Bowman
    It is a story that has been told and retold in Texas and Louisiana–one that almost every school child has learned in the classroom.

    Twin sons were born to an old Caddo Indian chief living on the banks of the Sabine River. Natchitoches was swarthy with black hair and flashing black eyes. Nacogdoches was fair with yellow hair and blue eyes.

    As their father neared the end of his days, he called his sons into his presence to receive his final blessings.

    He commanded that, upon his death, Natchitoches should gather his wife and children, turn his face to the rising sun, and after traveling three days he should build his home and rear a tribe.

    Nacogdoches was instructed to face the setting sun, walk three days with his family, and establish a new home where he, too, would rear his children and his children’s children.

    Thus, the twin tribes of Nacogdoches and Natchitoches were born 100 miles apart–one in what would become Texas and one in the place we know today as Louisiana.

    The two tribes were located a sufficient distance apart to prevent friction over their hunting grounds, so they remained on friendly terms as the decades passed.

    The friendship and trade beat out a well-traveled path between the two tribes, a route that eventually became a highway known as El Camino Real by Spanish travelers.

    The story is such an engaging tale that it has been printed, reprinted, told and retold in so many places that most of us have lost count. But the trouble is, the story isn’t true.

    It was apparently concocted in 1939 by historian R.B. Blake of Nacogdoches as part of a booklet produced by the Nacogdoches Historical Society.

    There were, however, Indian tribes known as Nacogdoches and Natchitoches. And, yes, there are towns by the same name. And, of course, there is an El Camino Real.

    While Nacogdoches has adhered to Blake’s original story, Natchitoches uses a different twist. In its version, as reported by the Chamber of Commerce, the Indian chief banished his twin sons to the east and west.

    The Chamber manager said the legend is so ingrained in Natchitoches’ history that “folks around here would run me out of town if I said it wasn’t true.”

    Regardless of the story’s veracity, it will remain a beloved part of the fabric of East Texas.

    The beautiful town of Natichitoches Louisiana is where one of my favorite movies was filmed…
    Steel Magnolias!!

    © Bob Bowman July 10, 2006 Column

  • Hi Jillee, maybe I missed it, but I don’t think it says what size sheet pan you used. I’m guessing it’s a quarter sheet but wanted to check with you to be sure. Also I’m vegan so I will have to swap out a few ingredients but I will post another comment on that when I’ve made it in case there are any other vegans out there that are interested. Hope that’s ok.

  • Hi Jillee. Your mom’s magical ingredient is love. My daughter and I make mac and cheese the same way but her girls think grandmas is better because I put love in mine. Gotta love them !

  • I have eaten this cake all my life and requested it every year for my birthday cake. My family called it “Fudge Cake”. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I learned it was Texas Sheet Cake, and I live in Texas! This cake is ALWAYS a hit! It’s better the 2nd day after the icing has time to seep into the cake. I have always baked it in a jelly roll pan. Some people I know have made it as a 9×13 cake, but that just ruins it for me. LOL

  • Yes, a Texas girl would recognize that Texas Sheet Cake anywhere! And Gloria, my recipe has cinnamon, too! In mine and my friends’ minds ~ can’t get too much cinnamon in this cake!
    Always a HUGE HIT, anywhere!!!

  • Quick question….when you say flour do you mean self raising flour or plain flour?
    Am keen to give this recipe a crack….think my boys & their friends would love it!

  • Hi Jilliee,
    I’ve made a few “Texas Sheet Cakes”, love them, hadn’t heard of the “Nacodoches” till now.
    My question is regarding the great jars you’ve got for your sugar, flour, baking (?soda…can’t see the pic right now, either baking soda or powder). I’ve been using Tupperware for my dry goods but they’re showing a great amount of wear & break down & I’d love to upgrade to glass. Would you kindly give reference to where I might purchase the same glass jars you’re showing?
    Thanks so much…I’m really glad I found your site!

  • I have been making this exact recipe for 30 some years. We call it Brownie Sheet cake. When my boys were younger they wanted this cake for their birthday cake. I use pecans in my recipe. I don’t remember where I got the recipe from. It is very excellent and feeds a lot.

  • I live about 30 minutes from Nacogdoches, of course I know of the Texas Sheet Cake but this is the first I’ve heard of Nacogdoches Sheet Cake. I will definitely be using your recipe!

  • Hi Jillee ~ I love your hints, crafts, ideas & recipes … and the list goes on :-) So first and foremost, thank you! Today my reason for leaving a comment is to ask if you could/would/can add a tab for a “printer friendly” format when printing? I copy a lot of your articles (they live on my computer in their very own “One Good Thing” folder.
    Thanks and please keep sharing your ideas! Sally

    • Down at the bottom of her posts is an area to “share” with Facebook, Pinterest & there is a green button with a printer on it. If you select that green button it will bring up your printer icon & a button to save as a pdf file. I use the pdf one so my saves are easily changed to that format for me.

  • I Have been making this sheath cake since I was in my 20’S, I am now 66. I found it in my Grandmothers Mennonite cookbook. I use to make it for all my home parties, Tupperware, Home Interior. The only difference I see is my the Mennonite cookbook calls for cinnamon in the cake mix, about a 1/4 tsp. just a hint. People always wanted the recipe.

    • Adding cinnamon to this recipe is the way I have always made it. I received the recipe for “Texas Sheet Cake” from my good friend who was a Texas native. This recipe was passed around to all my friends and their friends in Topeka, Kansas. It is truly unique, delicious and fun to make.

  • I don’t make this anymore since I have diminished my sugar consumption, but it was my family’s favorite dessert for years. We called it Mexican Sheet Cake, and I think that was because of the chocolate/cinnamon combination. And, of course, being Texans, we always used pecans.

  • Oh my goodness Texas Sheet Cake! It is truly the best chocolate cake and it is so easy to make! As a native Texan I think you need to add a side of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream!
    I make this cake in two 8 X 8 Pyrex pans. Eat one now and freeze the other. It freezes beautifully.

  • One of our all time favorite cakes! The only difference is I put 1 tsp. of cinnamon in the batter…perfection! Also, being from Texas, you have to use pecans!

    • There a bunch of different versions of this but most are similar. Mine doesn’t use shortening either. Here’s a link to another version without it. Also most people in Texas put pecans on top since it’s the state tree. I also put 1 tsp. of cinnamon in the cake batter. So many different ways to change it up!!!

  • I found this recipe in a magazine many years ago, and it’s never failed to be delicious. It is a favorite in our family. So difficult to have just one piece…it is that good.

  • My mother who is 93 years old has been making this for many decades. She gave one to an out of town relative last year and never saw her pan back. I would love to know the dimensions of the pan that you all use. We have tried to purchase her many and she insist that they are all the wrong size. So I’m not real sure if she’s correct or if it’s just her age!

  • I have made this cake for years and love it! I substitute equal amount of coffee instead of water. You don’t taste the coffee and it enhances the flavor of the chocolate! Yum!

  • Try this Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake with an added 1Tbsp of cinnamon in the cake and added 1tsp of cinnamon in the frosting. This makes it into a Mexican Chocolate sheet cake. And to previous questions… yes it is baked on a large cookie sheet! Super yummy! This is my family’s favorite cake or brownie recipe.

  • This is allot like my moms sheet cake.. We don’t cook the frosting. We haven’t made it for a longtime because it makes a lot. Also everyone else is out of the house now, so it’s just me and my folks. Also have one extended family member who is g free, so it kind of limits what dessserts you can do for family gatherings. It is yummy. I’ve never hearc it called Nacogdoches before. Is that a family s last name?

  • Just found this recipe and will try and make it! It does not sound too difficult but as I am in the UK it is difficult to get the measurements correct, (sticks of butter?) Would it be possible to “translate” your measurements for us on the other side of the pond?

  • Better revise directions. Photos distinctly show pouring flour mixture into cocoa mixture. Sorry, couldn’t resist. :)
    Wish I had a dollar for every one of these cakes I made! We called it “20 Minute Chocolate Cake”. Was my now 43 year old son’s favorite … and still is. Good memories!

    • For a white sheet cake:
      Make same way as the chocolate only leave out the cocoa powder and replace the shortening with 1/2 cup sour cream and leaving out the buttermilk.
      I do prefer the almond flavoring in white cake compared to the vanilla; choice is yours.
      For the frosting; leave out the cocoa powder, use 5 1/2 cups powdered sugar, using 1/4 cup milk and once again; I prefer the almond extract / flavoring

      • My error in frosting instructions.
        That should be 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar ( sifted) and NOT the 51/2 cups as shown.
        Note: I do always sift my powdered sugar as it removes any lumps and makes for smoother icing.

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