Chocolate Sheet Cake, Gluten-Free

(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


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

For the Icing
14 tablespoon (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
4 heaping TBL unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
6 tablespoon milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup 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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  1. Pat says

    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.

  2. Nadia says

    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!

  3. Maggie McMillan says

    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!

  4. Tracy says

    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!

  5. Michelle says

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

  6. Lisa says

    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

      • Lisa says

        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!

  7. anna says

    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

  8. dee says

    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?

  9. dee says

    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 says

      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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