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Exploding Chocolate Cake

by Lori on February 8th, 2011

A slice of chocolate cake

When you’ve had a bad day, sometimes you need a little chocolate. It is a really bad day when your chocolate cake blows up in your face. Don’t let it happen to you. Check out this story, and get a super rich chocolate cake recipe too.

The Story

When this story occurred, I was in high school. One day after school, I walked into the house and found my younger sister standing in the middle of the living room. She had a cake pan in her hands and chocolate cake all over her face. Instead of asking if she was OK, I immediately doubled over in laughter, as any big sister would.

After regaining my composure, I found she was fine and got the scoop on what had happened. She had been baking a chocolate cake in the microwave. (Yes, the microwave.) After taking the cake out of the microwave, it exploded in her face a few seconds later. This was about the time I walked in the door.

My sister blamed the explosion on not mixing her batter well enough to break the egg yolks. She claimed the yolks exploded under the intense heat of the microwave, ultimately causing the cake to blow up in her face.

The Moral of the Story

If a recipe calls for egg, make sure to break the yolk before baking. Otherwise, you may end up with egg on your face.

Breaking the yolk

About the Recipe

I didn’t discover this chocolate cake recipe until many years after the exploding cake incident. This recipe is even made in a real oven, not a microwave. It is from Ken’s grandfather’s second wife, Margaret. Margaret once said she found the recipe in a newspaper many years ago. I’ve seen similar recipes for Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake on other websites and blogs. Recently, I also noticed a similar recipe posted by Pioneer Woman on her blog. One woman commented on the post that her aunt had a newspaper clipping of a similar recipe from many years ago. I wonder if it was the same newspaper Margaret had mentioned.

The Cast of Characters

Chocolate cake ingredients

For the cake batter, well-beaten eggs take center stage. Other ingredients for the batter include sugar, flour, shortening, butter, cocoa and vanilla. For the icing, it’s only a five-member cast: butter, milk, powdered sugar, cocoa and vanilla. You also can add pecans if you like. For a complete list of ingredients, see the recipe at the end of this post.

The Play-by-Play

Before you begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9 x 13 pan.

Next, make the cake batter.

In a heat-safe bowl, sift together 2 cups sugar and 2 cups flour.
Sifting flour for cake making

In a saucepan, mix 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup shortening, 4 tablespoons cocoa and 1 cup water.
Stir the pot

Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat.
Bring it to a boil

Pour the hot cocoa mixture over flour and sugar.
Add the dry ingredients

Stir until the mixture is well blended.
Stirring the batter

Add 1/2 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon baking soda, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 slightly beaten eggs. Make sure the egg yolks are broken.
Adding egg, milk and cocoa

Stir the batter again, until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes.
Batter up

Now, make the icing.

When the cake has 5 minutes left to bake, start making the icing. In a large saucepan, put 1 stick butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons milk.
Frosting Ingredients Pre-Boil

Bring the mixture to a boil. Once it begins boiling, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in 3 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the chopped pecans, if you are using them.
Frosting Ingredients Come to Boil

When the cake has finished baking, remove it from the oven. If you stick a toothpick in the center of the cake, the toothpick should come out clean.
Chocolate Cake Unfrosted

Immediately pour the hot icing over the hot cake.
Chocolate Cake Frosted in Pan

Once the cake is cool enough to eat, enjoy it with a friend or your sister!

The Footnotes

  • About the cinnamon: Don’t leave it out. It really brings out the chocolate flavor.
  • About the pan: Margaret made this cake in a 16 x 11 jelly roll pan. I make it in a standard 9 x 13 pan. I’ve used glass and tin pans, and it turns out great either way.
  • About the icing: There will be lumps in it. I always struggle with lumps from either the powdered sugar or cocoa whenever I make it. It simply refuses to blend smoothly when you stir it by hand or in a stand mixer. Then I put it in a food processor, and I finally conquered the lumps.
  • About the pecans: I never seem to have pecans on hand when I make this. It’s perfectly fine without them. I wonder if adding the pecans to the icing would help disguise any lumps from the cocoa or powdered sugar.
  • About the eggs: Don’t forget to break the yolks.

The Recipe: Margaret’s Chocolate Sheet Cake

Baking time:
20 minutes

Servings:
Makes one 9 x 13 cake or 16 x 11 cake, depending on the size of pan you use.  The number of servings depends on how big you slice your cake pieces.

Ingredients:

For the cake batter:

2 cups white sugar
2 cups flour
1 stick (or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, slightly beaten

For the icing:

1 stick (or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 19 baking pan or 16 x 11 jelly roll pan with shortening.
  2. In a large heat-safe bowl, sift together 2 cups sugar and 2 cups flour.
  3. In a medium saucepan, place 1 stick of butter, 1/2 cup shortening, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder and 1 cup water. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat.
  4. Pour the hot cocoa mixture over the sugar and flour. Stir all the ingredients with a wooden spoon until well blended.
  5. To the mixture, add 1/2 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon baking soda, a pinch of salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 slightly beaten eggs. Stir again until all the ingredients are well combined.
  6. Pour the batter into the greased pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. When the cake has 5 minutes left to bake, begin making the icing. In a large saucepan, place 1 stick butter, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder and 6 tablespoons milk. Bring the ingredients to a boil over medium-high heat.
  8. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and stir into the mixture 3 cups powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup chopped pecans, if you are using pecans.
  9. When the cake is done baking, remove it from the oven. Immediately spread the hot icing over the hot cake.
  10. Let cool before serving.

What’s your favorite family story about baking or cooking?

don’t want to end up with cake on your face
4 Comments
  1. I like this cake a lot. I like the technique of making it. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.

    • Thank you for visiting the site. Glad to hear you liked this chocolate cake recipe.

  2. Hi Lori, your recipe is fantastic. I baked the cake and it was delicious. Thanks once more…!

    • I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing how it turned out when you baked it. It’s one of my favorites.

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