Nana Recipe Wednesday–Texas Cake

by Sarah on June 4, 2014

Undercover Caterer :: Texas Cake

Nana and Boppa were Texans for about one hot minute.  I’m not exactly sure why or how it happened, but I know that Boppa was having to move around a bit–somehow involving the Navy, I think to repay his medical school debts during the Korean War.  I know they also lived in Memphis for a nanosecond. They were in San Angelo, Texas long enough to have two girls and for Boppa to open his first pediatrics practice.  I think docs just for kids was kind of uncommon at the time.

Anyway, you can see some crappy photos of his first office below–I have another of the interior of the waiting room somewhere, it is actually quite cool looking, but I couldn’t find it.  There was always a early-50’s-ish green chair in the den at their house in Hayward–not the best looking chair around but it is my understanding that it came from that first office.  Sentimental sap that I am, that old chair is now in my rumpus room keeping the hi-fi company.  I just couldn’t bear for it to go to the Goodwill.

It would have missed us.  C’mon you know chairs have feelings.  Shut up.

Undercover Caterer :: Texas Cake

Anyway, maybe San Angelo is where the Texas Cake recipe is from.  Is it because it is enormous, like the state of Texas?  The similarities end there.  I have no other ideas why this cake might be labeled as a ‘Texas Cake’.

Nana used to make this one over and over–It’s easy, it feeds a giant crowd, and it tastes fantastic.  Truly.  A moist chocolatey (but not too cloying or sweet) cake that’s almost brownie-like in appearance.  But it’s cake.  I also like the icing–Liquid when you pour it on hot, then cools and sets but not into something thick and icky.  It’s a thin layer of chocolate, studded with chopped pecans.

Undercover Caterer :: Texas Cake

Now I know, that looks like a lot of steps, but I promise you it’s practically as easy as a box cake mix.  You just have to go slowly when you are adding the hot chocolate mixture into the flour and egg mixture, lest you end up with scrambled egg in your cake.  That would be gross.  And other than buttermilk, it’s made with very common ingredients–ones that may be lurking in your cupboards right now!  Another plus?  Nana says this cake freezes beautifully if you want to save half for another day.  It IS a pretty big cake.

Nearly as big as Texas itself.

Undercover Caterer :: Texas Cake

Serve with an enormous scoop of vanilla ice cream, naturally.

Nana's Texas Cake


  • 2 sticks butter (1 cup)
  • 1 cup water
  • 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 4 Tbsp buttermilk
  • 1 box (1 lb. or 2 cups) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup or more chopped nuts (we like pecans, and I use lots)
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 350*. Spray the sheet pan and dust with cocoa or flour.
  • Mix flour, salt, soda, sugar, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Bring butter, water and cocoa to a boil and pour over flour mixture. Mix well and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes.
  • While cake is baking, make the frosting.
  • Heat butter, cocoa and buttermilk on the stove but do not boil.
  • Turn off the heat and mix in powdered sugar, chopped nuts (we like pecans), and vanilla.
  • When cake is done, pull out of the oven. Pour frosting over while both the icing and cake are still hot. Using a rubber or offset spatula, spread the icing to the edges of the cake.
  • Let cool completely before cutting and serving.


According to Nana: "This is the best chocolate cake EVER! Moist and keeps well. Can be made in 2 or 3 smaller pans and extras can be frozen".



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