Moist, chocolate sheet cake topped with chocolate buttercream is perfect for birthday celebrations, entertaining, or even an everyday cake. It's easy to make and can be decorated festively!
Every dessert recipe repertoire needs a good chocolate cake. It's a staple recipe that is a go to for any occasion. This rich chocolate sheet cake is moist, full of chocolate flavor and simple to make. It's topped with a decadent, silky smooth chocolate buttercream that's made with only 5 ingredients and in under 10 minutes.
Natural cocoa powder vs dutch process cocoa powder
First of all, what is cocoa powder? In short, it's what chocolate tastes like without any extra fat, sugar or milk added to it. More specifically it's the powder created by grinding cocoa beans once the cocoa butter has been removed from them.
In this recipe I use natural unsweetened cocoa powder as oppose to dutch processed. Because chocolate is naturally acidic, natural cocoa powder is as well. This recipe calls for baking soda as its leavening agent and therefore the acidic natural unsweetened cocoa powder creates the reaction with the leavening agent. Dutch process cocoa powder, on the other hand, is not acidic and will not cause the baking soda to react.
In general, natural cocoa powder has a bolder flavor whereas dutch process cocoa powder is more mellow. Flavors of cocoa powders will vary based on cocoa beans and how they are processed.
How to make chocolate sheet cake
Always begin by preparing your baking pans. You'll want to butter and flour your 9x13-inch baking pan and then line it with parchment paper. If you plan on serving this cake right from the pan then omit the parchment paper. Otherwise, line the bottom and sides of your pan with parchment paper so that it hangs over the edges along the long sides of the pan. This will make it easy to lift your cake right out of the pan once it's slightly cooled.
Next sift together all the dry ingredients. This will remove any lumps in your flour and cocoa powder.
Always beat your softened butter and sugar for 4-5 minutes or until light and creamy to aerate the batter. Then mix in the eggs one at a time ensuring that you scrape down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
Alternate adding your dry and wet ingredients and mix just until smooth and add to your prepared baking. Finally bake the cake in a preheated 350°F/177°C oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.