Friday, November 4, 2011

Grandma & the Texas Sheet Cake recipe

My Grandma was such a unique person, she was a pioneer in so many ways! She married my Grandfather in 1929, he was literally a "one arm house painter."

Grandpa lost his left arm when he was 19 from a misfiring shotgun. He was hunting on horseback and was in the woods alone. After the injury he passed out on his horse & the horse took him back home. He always laughed and told me" I survived WWI and blew my own arm off!" He was so funny, loved life & never let his lack of a left arm slow him down.

They lived in rural Central Texas on a farm, raised cattle & cotton. Grandpa was the county Tax Assessor & House Painter.  Grandma was a preacher! What a combination...

Grandma was such a serious soul. It was hard to get her to laugh, she was so intense about everything. She loved her family incredibly and wanted to help everyone around her. She was going to being a school teacher but felt that God wanted her to be a preacher.

She would have made a good teacher but I would have felt so sorry for those students! Grandma was a strict disciplinarian to say the least. So God knew what he was doing when he lead her down the path to preaching. Although it wasn't common in those days for a lady to preach, no one ever called Grandma ordinary!

During the 1940's they pastored a church in Beat Five, Texas. She would always tell me "I left all the dealings to the men, I just preached & prayed!" And a great preacher she was!! She could make me shake in my shoes when she preached, mostly because I was afraid she would use me for an example in her sermons.

She taught me so much about being my best, but mostly she gave me unconditional love. She taught me to cook & show hospitality to everyone who entered my home. My love of cooking & feeding others comes from years of watching my grandmothers lovingly prepare food for their families.

Grandma was a stickler on the rules. I tend to see most things as black & white, I'm sure that came from her too! I appreciate this heritage more than I can say. She shaped me into the strong woman I am today.

Thinking about the holidays always reminds me of those who are no longer with us, but when we cook their recipes they live on in our minds.  My grandma always made a Texas Sheet Cake. She was so funny, she would put pecan halves on top so there would be 20 pieces with a pecan half on each one. We all expected that cake, and as you can see in the picture, even after she was well up in age she still felt like she had to make it. She said it just wasn't a holiday dinner if she didn't!

Holiday cooking is a heritage to pass on to our children & grandchildren. Start traditions with your families now & one day they will just have to have that "Texas Sheet Cake" memory of you for the holiday's.

I am happy to share this recipe with you, it's a common one but Grandma's was just a little better! Think that may be a childlike belief...but hey it's the most wonderful time of the year.

Grandma wouldn't use store bought pecans, they had to come from a friends tree & she had to shell them herself...wonder where I get the set in my ways behavior?

Texas Sheet Cake


1 stick margarine

1/2 c. shortening ( these two can be replaced with 2 sticks of butter)

1 cup water

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

1/2 c. buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla


1/2 cup butter or margarine

4 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 lb ( 2 cups) powdered sugar

6 tablespoons milk

1 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the cake, combine the butter, water and cocoa in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Add the butter mixture all at once, and stir to blend.  Whisk eggs and buttermilk together, add to the batter and mix well.  Pour the batter into a 9x13 pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Just before the cake is done, make the icing: Combine the butter, milk, and cocoa in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, mix well. Add the icing to the cake while it is still warm & pours easily then add the pecans. Grandma used halves, but I used chopped sometimes, hope she doesn't know!