I wanted to bake a chocolate cake for G’s birthday, and thought I’d use the opportunity to try out a recipe at The Pioneer Woman’s website, confidently dubbed “The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever.” The cake, not the website, was called that. Nevermind.
I was curious to know whether I’d agree with the claim.
I didn’t have quite all the ingredients: I lacked buttermilk, and I also lacked a lemon or lemon juice to get normal milk to approximate buttermilk. What I did have was lemonade, which was essentially lemon juice with extra water and sugar, so I plonked some of that into the milk. Seemed to work.
I wanted at least one cupcake, for the birthday girl. I only had one cupcake tray, so I made 12 cupcakes and a cake about 20cm square (a bit less than 8 inches). I filled the cupcake papers pretty close to the top and worried a little that the cake might “muffin” out over the edges, but it didn’t.
You’ll notice that this isn’t a proper test of the recipe because I didn’t include the icing, which looks delicious. I didn’t want more sugar involved for G, and on reflection I realized that we didn’t particularly need it either. I was more interested in knowing what the cake would be like anyway. I can put icing on any cake another time.
It turned out nicely. As suggested by the photo with the recipe, the colour didn’t come out particularly dark, and, at least in my imagination, the taste could be more “dark” too. More chocolatey? I would be tempted to add more cocoa, some dark chocolate, and/or some brown sugar to richen it up if I try again. I may be barking up the wrong tree. Certainly adding chocolate icing with pecans in it would increase the richness…but for me, there’s still room to improve within the cake itself.
The texture was kind of “creamy” — not crumb-y or dry. Even though I left some crumbs lying around in the photos.
The surface developed a sticky caramelized “skin” that I enjoyed. Icing would completely redefine the surface, obviously.
Great composition, eh? I’ll admit the possibility that that cupcake on the left was a bit wonky, but I’m pretty sure it’s dominated by lens distortion here.
My verdict is that this is a very nice cake recipe. I would certainly consider using it again, but I think I will be adding stuff to it to try to make the chocolate flavour pop. That doesn’t sound right. Chocolate doesn’t sound like a flavour that should pop. To emphasize the chocolate flavour. If anyone ever reads this there’s a possbility they’re shouting “ICING!” at their monitor, but I mean in addition to icing.
G’s verdict, and G has no prior experience with chocolate cake, so it can’t be taken as an indication of how this cake turned out relative to any other recipe, is reflected in her reaction to being presented with her cupcake (iced, rather successfully, with cream cheese). It began with delight at the single burning candle, edging into frustration at not being allowed to put her hand in the candle. With the candle blown out (by me) and out of sight, she moved on to studious turning-over of the cake in her hands, and a tentative test of the object with her tongue, followed by another visual observation (with big eyes).
Then she crammed it into her mouth as far as it would go.