Chocolate Sheet Cake, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on April 20, 2010

(photo made possible by my willpower in being able to stop eating this last piece long enough to photograph it)

OK, you know that I love chocolate.  My most favorite desserts contain chocolate.  I’ve also shared that I love pecans.  So, when I was going through Ree Drummond’s cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl for another recipe to make for the bake sale,  I saw her recipe for Chocolate Sheet Cake and knew I had to adapt it to gluten-free.  I mean, seriously.  Chocolate cake with chocolate pecan frosting?  Food of the goddesses.

This is the second baked goodie I brought to the National Food Bloggers Bake Sale this past Saturday.  It is easy to make and it packs a flavor punch.  For the bake sale, I cut it into 2″x2″ squares to sell.  Even if you don’t have a bake sale to make this for, this would be a super recipe for a potluck or a birthday party or a family dinner or just because.  And, if you are allergic to pecans or don’t like them, you can leave them out.  Perfect and delcious!  If you do use the pecans, I like to toast them before chopping them–it brings out their flavor a bit more.

Chocolate Sheet Cake, Gluten-Free (baking time edited 5/6/10)
-adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl, by Ree Drummond

Special Equipment Needed
-a stand mixer is nice, but a hand mixer will do
-9×13 baking pan

Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C. brown rice flour
1 1/4 C. white rice flour
1 C. tapioca flour
1 C. sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum


For the Cake
2 C Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 heaping TBL unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 C sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large or extra large eggs
1/2 C buttermilk or milk with 2 tsp apple cider vinegar added
1 C hot water
extra melted butter and tapioca flour for the pan

For the Icing
14 TBL (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
4 heaping TBL unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
6 TBL milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 C finely chopped toasted pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 9 x 13 in pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy–3-4 minutes.  Add sugar, beat for 2 minutes.  Add vanilla extract.  Add eggs, one at a time, beat for 2 minutes more.

Add your flour mixture and your buttermilk alternating between the two, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  After everything is mixed together, very carefully add the hot water to the batter and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into your prepared pan.  Thump on counter once to release any trapped air bubbles.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes–or until tester comes out clean.

While the cake is baking, make your icing.  Melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Add the milk and the vanilla, whisk again.  Add the powdered sugar, a bit at a time, whisking after each addition until the entire thing is smooth.  Add the pecans if using.

As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, pour the warm icing over the hot cake.  Try to distribute it as evenly as possible–you don’t want to do too much fooling with it.

Cool completely in pan.  Ree says: “Please make this cake today.  I don’t want you to live another day without it.”  I agree.


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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Pat August 8, 2014 at 4:38 am

I was looking for a chocolatey dessert for a baby shower…this will be perfect!! I have used the Pioneer Woman recipe for chocolate sheet cake numerous times in the past — I can NOT wait to try your recipe because I love love love chocolate and toasted pecans.


Jeanne August 8, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Pat: Yay!


Nadia December 24, 2013 at 10:56 pm

DELICIOUS! Thank you so much, since I’ve been GF for four months I haven’t had cake! and it’s my 20th birthday on christmas eve so I wanted something other then pie, crumble, brownies. This cake was wonderful, so moist, nice crumb, and a great taste. I substituted jowar/sorghum for the brown rice and added coconut to the frosting. My family loved it and couldn’t tell the difference till I told them :) best b-day ever!


Jeanne December 25, 2013 at 11:20 am

Nadia: Hooray! And happy birthday!!


Maggie McMillan November 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm

Forget pie, I Just found what dessert I will be making for me this Thanksgiving! Sounds so delicious and looks decadent! Great with a great big glass of milk!


Jeanne November 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Maggie: Ah, a woman after my own heart! I always make a chocolate dessert for Thanksgiving in addition to pumpkin pie! Happy Thanksgiving!

Reply October 17, 2013 at 11:03 am

A colleague referred me to this website. Thank you for the details.


Tracy June 4, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Another winner! So far everyone has loved it, gluten free or not. I can see why it was hard to get a photo before it was all consumed. Hard to stop eating!
Thanks again for creating such great recipes!


Jeanne June 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Tracy: Yay! I’m so glad!


Michelle May 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm

I made this today for my dad’s birthday and oh my, is it good! Easy to make, great texture, great flavor! Thanks!!


Jeanne May 5, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Michelle: Ooo, I’m so glad. It is one of my favorites!!


Lisa February 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I made this cake in December for my husband’s birthday and it turned out great. I’d like to make it again to take to a party and would like to be able to serve more people. The original recipe from the Pioneer Woman uses a jelly roll pan and calls for a shorter baking time. Do you think this would work with your recipe?
Thanks, Lisa


admin February 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Lisa: Yes, I think that would be fine. Happy baking!


Lisa February 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm

The cake turned out great in the jelly roll pan. It took about 22 minutes in my oven. It was perfect for the party because it served several people and it was easily eaten using only a napkin and fingers. This recipe is at the top of my list of desserts to serve to a crowd. Thanks!


admin February 7, 2012 at 10:37 am

Lisa: Awesome! I’m so glad! And thanks for letting me know your baking time–that’s good to know.


Kay January 22, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Chocolate Sheet Cake is delicious!!! Thanks for your wonderful recipes! Many blessings!


admin January 22, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Kay: Yay!! I’m so glad you like it!! And a lot of thanks goes to Ree, too!


anna January 5, 2011 at 8:11 pm

jeanne! corbin was feeling blue today, so i thought i’d bake him a cake. i chose this one – and just the idea made him elated! its now baking in the oven, and its already working its magic! thanks for the recipe – anna


admin January 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

Anna: yay! I’m so glad!! How did it turn out??


dee December 28, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Sorry forgot to mention above I have to make this dairy free so I used hemp milk w/vinegar-it doesn’t curdle…could that be the trouble? If so any suggestions?


dee December 28, 2010 at 4:19 pm

I made this cake and it fell-not a little it looked like a brownie when all was said and done. I used the exact amounts you provided…any suggestions. I need to make a cake for a wedding this weekend and my chocolate cakes are not turning out..can you help???


admin December 28, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Dee: Do you have an oven thermometer? If not, I would get one and make sure your cakes are baking at the correct temperature. Underbaked cakes will often collapse. If your cakes are baking at the correct temperature, I would make sure they are thoroughly baked before you remove them from the oven. Use a toothpick or cake tester in order to make sure the middles are not still liquid.


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