Church Lady cake

…otherwise known as Texas sheet cake. But since I’ve only ever encountered it within the context of Southern Baptist potlucks (my most vivid memory of it is eating a slice of it in the basement of the Baptist church in Trinity, Texas, at the potluck following my great-grandmother’s funeral), I’m calling it Church Lady cake. (I’d never known what it was called, just always thought of it as “that really awesome chocolate cake with cinnamon and the pecan glaze on top.”)

Anyway, I got a wild hair to make this cake when I saw it in layer form. One of the characteristics of Texas sheet cake is that, well, it is a sheet cake. It is also served in the same pan it’s baked in, so that when you pour the warm frosting onto the still-warm cake, the pan contains the frosting, which is runny and gets absorbed into the cake, giving the cake a fudgy, brownie-like consistency.

Let me note that this cake is ridiculously easy to make. I am not a practiced hand at layer cakes, and this recipe is pretty much idiot-proof. It calls for a ganache to go between the layers. At first I thought that since the ganache was not super thick when I put it on between the layers that there wouldn’t much of a ganache layer to speak of, but you can tell by the photo that it was respectable. The frosting sort of went everywhere, making for a kind of ugly presentation, but who cares about that, really?

I made this to take to Thanksgiving dinner at my folks’, but my son came down with strep throat that week and the infection didn’t respond to the first antibiotic prescription. This meant that on Thanksgiving day, he was still feverish and contagious, so we stayed home. Me, home, with a huge chocolate cake that rates among my favorite in the world. DANGER WILL ROBINSON.

I carved off some rather substantial hunks to give to some friends in the neighborhood, one of whom had just come home from birthing her son; had myself a not-ungenerous slice; and gave one to Laurel, who, every time she came into the kitchen would point at the cake and chant, “My cake! My cake!” (she didn’t eat any of the cake I gave her).

That left me with half of this gargantuan cake. I put it in the freezer for later. I think about it every day, but haven’t tucked into it yet. I tell myself I’m saving it for some yet-to-be-determined occasion, perhaps even for my stepmom’s birthday this weekend, but it calls to me from behind the stainless-steel doors. It speaks of sweetness and nostalgia, the earthy spice of cinnamon mingling with the depth of the chocolate, of a tender, moist crumb and the subtle crunch of the pecan glaze.

Maybe the occasion could just be that it’s Thursday.

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1 Comment

  1. KellyMc

     /  December 2, 2010

    I love the fact that I ate three hunks of this cake, thinking each time about when I could justify my next hunk, and here I find an article on the interwebs about the origin of that very cake.

    It was a very good cake, and its Texas sheet cake bonafides are solid.


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