Sheet cakes are easy to prepare and capable of feeding many, making them a popular choice for large gatherings. They are typically a single layer baked in a shallow, rectangular pan and are characterised by their simplicity. However, you can use more complex cake batter recipes to make sheet cakes, as long as you take care to extend their cooking times. Sheet cakes can also be cut into a variety of shapes; indeed, they often form the base for more elaborate cake structures.
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Texas Sheet Cakes
Although no one knows the precise origin of this delicious sheet cake recipe, Texas sheet cake is famed for its light texture and uniquely delectable taste. Sometimes attributed to former First Lady (and notable Texan) Lady Bird Johnson, Texas sheet cake gains its striking flavour from its chocolate buttermilk batter. It is frosted with a buttery icing enriched with pecans or walnuts, chocolate and cinnamon. Try serving Texas sheet cake at casual barbecues or family dinners.
Fruited Sheet Cakes
You can use fruits to add tang and intricacy to simple sheet cakes. To make strawberry shortcake, top a white sheet cake with sugared strawberries and lemon-inflected whipped cream. Plain white sheet cakes can also be dressed up with jams and jellies; try spreading a sheet cake with raspberry jam or homemade orange marmalade. Stewed golden plums or kiwi add spring sweetness to buttery sheet cakes. Try stirring dried fruits into cinnamon-spiced sheet cake batters---blueberries, apples, cranberries and currants work well for this purpose. This sort of sheet cake goes well with coffee and tea. Fresh fruits contrast piquantly with cream cheese frostings, especially mangos, tangerines, bananas, grapefruit and stewed rhubarb. Use these to top lemon or vanilla sheet cakes.
Chocolate Sheet Cakes
The classic choice for a child's birthday party, chocolate sheet cake comes in many iterations, from mocha cakes to yellow cakes glazed with chocolate frosting. Experiment with different grades of chocolate and cocoa powder to produce different effects. You can also blend chocolate batters with orange or lemon zest, which will give your chocolate sheet cake a fruitier, more rounded flavour. Another option is to swirl chocolate chips into white or yellow sheet cake batter. When making chocolate sheet cake frosting, consider using a cream cheese chocolate frosting. You can also blend cocoa powder, chilli powder and cinnamon with vanilla frosting to create a truly unusual sheet cake topper.
Eye-Catching Sheet Cakes
Due to their flat shape, sheet cakes lend themselves to a number of decorating options. Martha Stewart recommends decorating sheet cakes to resemble the United States flag for the Fourth of July. You can also frost sheet cakes to look like playing cards or books. Their large surfaces make sheet cakes perfect for birthdays or graduations, since there is lots of room to write salutations or words of congratulation. Their broad surface area also makes sheet cakes ideal for creating elaborate frosting scenes, such as depictions of a birthday boy or girl's favourite activity, or fanciful garden motifs. Top frosted sheet cakes with assorted sizes and types of nuts to create intricate patterns.
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