I’ve decided I don’t want to make round layer cakes any more. Everyone always says, “Oh, that piece is too big, give me half of that.” Seriously? Have you ever tried to cut an inch-wide sliver of a three layer cake and not have it fall over. It can’t be done!
Sheet cakes, on the other hand, you can bring it to the party in the same pan you baked it in, you don’t have to worry about it tipping over in the car, you can cut pieces as small as you want … sheet cakes are the bomb.
And a lemon sheet cake with chocolate ganache and lemon glaze? Ehrmagerd.
2½ cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
¾ cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¾ cup white sugar
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) butter, softened
4 large eggs
Go check out the recipe from Ree’s Texas sheetcake recipe.
Simple and delicious, it’s what I used in the pictures below.
Follow the directions for my lemon drop candies.
Before you start mixing the ingredients, prepare a sheet pan and pre-heat the oven to 325° F.
I’ve got to get up on my soapbox for a minute here. There’s no reason the kitchen needs to look like a war zone after baking a cake. The easiest way to clean up the mess is not to make one. So when I measure the flour, I do it right in the bowl I’m going to put the flour in.
For this recipe you want to add all the dry ingredients first — flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt — in a separate bowl from the one you’ll be mixing the batter in, then whisk to combine.
Whisk carefully, flour will fly everywhere if you try to rush.
You can do without those two tools, but Jenn swears by them. “I thought they were stupid when we got them, but I use them all the time.”
Once you measure out the lemon juice add it to the buttermilk.
Quick tip if you don’t have buttermilk: Mix one teaspoon of vinegar into one cup of milk. Presto, buttermilk. Kind of. Good enough for baking with anyway.
Add the vanilla to the buttermilk and lemon juice, and don’t worry about how it’s getting lumpy. That’s the lemon causing the milk to curdle. It’s supposed to happen.
Finally you’re ready to start adding ingredients to the bowl you’ll be mixing in. Start with the sugar and lemon zest and mix until fragrant.
Next add the butter and mix until smooth and fluffy.
Mix in one egg at a time on low speed.
Continue mixing on low speed as you add the dry and wet ingredients, alternating three portions of dry with two portions of wet. I.e.: Dry, wet, dry, wet, dry.
Pour the batter out into the prepared sheet pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top is lightly golden brown and the cake starts to pull away from the edges.
Make the chocolate frosting according to the directions on Ree’s Texas sheet cake recipe. Pour it on and spread evenly. Put the cake in the fridge until the frosting is cool. (Note that the quality of the chocolate really matters. I like Ghirardelli. And make sure it’s unsweetened cocoa powder. Sweetened cocoa is more than half sugar.)
Make the lemon glaze and drizzle it over the frosting.
Back into the fridge until everything solidifies.
The cake is ridiculously moist and lemony. The chocolate frosting — you used good cocoa, right? — is rich and decadent. The lemon glaze is like sweet tart candies on top.
This thing is goooood right out of the fridge.
And that’s it.
Want more like this? For more recipes like this, that you can hold right in your hands, and write on, take notes, tear pages out if you want (Gosh, you're tough on books, aren't you?) you might be interested in How To Cook Like Your Grandmother, 2nd edition, Illustrated. Or to learn your way around the kitchen, check out Starting From Scratch: The Owner's Manual for Your Kitchen.