Posts Tagged ‘chocolate sheet cake’


I love recipes which are simple, homely and comforting – dishes which are easy to make, large enough to share with the neighbours and so delicious that my boys request them over and over again.  A couple of years ago, I was reading Consuming Passions by Michael Lee West – a collection of stories and recipes, drawn mostly from her Southern US upbringing. In one section she mentioned a “Chocolate Sheet Cake” and the concept fascinated me – I loved the idea of being able to bake a big tray of chocolate cake and ice it before it had cooled, right in the pan.  But it was West’s description of the cake that was particularly evocative:

In my family, whenever a chocolate sheet cake appeared, it was usually to soothe a broken heart, or to soften the impact of an impulsive thrift-shop purchase. It was not a cake of holidays, but a cake that cajoled and flirted, a cake that said, ‘Forget about your problems, sweetie. Come sit by me for a while.’

Since then, the chocolate sheet  cake, or Choccy Slab Cake as it’s known at our place, has become a household staple. After some experimenting, we’ve finally come up with a combination that keeps everyone happy – a Mrs Field’s devil’s food cake recipe, baked in a roasting pan, and topped off with an ever reliable Jamie Oliver icing.  The whole ends up greater than the sum of its parts, because the icing over the warm base creates a very moist and velvety cake, which keeps well for the few days it takes to be eaten.

I made this cake for Alex’s 21st – it’s a great recipe for feeding lots of intoxicated and hungry twenty year olds.

Note: click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

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  • 13/4 cups (440ml) boiling water
  • 170g (6oz) dark chocolate, chopped finely (we use Callebaut callets)
  • 1 cup (110g) unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups (300g) plain (all purpose) flour
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), sifted
  • good pinch salt
  • 285g (10oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 13/4 cups (packed) (380g) brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 175C (350F) with fan.  Line the base and sides of a large roasting pan with parchment paper (Bake). I do this by squishing an extra-large sheet of Bake into the pan and pleating the corners, or snipping with scissors and overlapping them.  My tray is 37 x 27 x 5cm (141/2” x 101/2” x 2″), but the recipe is quite flexible, so use whatever you have on hand and adjust your cooking time accordingly.

2. In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the dark chocolate and let it sit for five minutes.  Add the cocoa and stir until the mixture is smooth.  Allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the cake.

3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Don’t whinge about all the bowls you’re using, it’s worth it.

4. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla, then add all the flour mixture and half the chocolate mixture.  Beat on low speed to combine, then on high for 1½  minutes.  Add remaining chocolate mixture and beat on low to combine.

5. Pour the batter into the roasting pan and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until a thin sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.   Be careful not to overcook it. Remove the cake from the oven, but leave it in the pan.  Allow to cool a little while you prepare the icing.


  • 100g (33/4oz) dark chocolate callets, or finely chopped chocolate
  • 100g (33/4oz) unsalted butter
  • 100g (33/4oz) icing sugar, sifted (it’s important to sift, or you’ll get lumpy icing)
  • 3 Tbsp (60ml) milk

Melt all ingredients in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring constantly until well blended.  Pour the finished icing over the warm cake, jiggling the pan around so that it’s all evenly coated.  Let it sit for say another 15 minutes or so, then put the whole thing into the fridge to set.

The cake can be kept at room temperature once the icing is set.

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