A fluffy, moist, and rich chocolate sheet cake topped with a cloud of fudgy chocolate frosting is beyond easy to make and will become a favorite!
Why it works
This cake is unbelievably fluffy while remaining delightfully moist and chocolaty. It is perfect for the chocolate lover who wants a cake that is reminiscent to the one from Matilda. Yes, it is that good.
What is even better is that the cake is so easy to make! You don't need a mixer or any fancy equipment. You just need a few regular pantry staples, a couple of bowls, a whisk, and your baking pan. Oh, and an oven, of course.
The frosting is amazing. It is deeply chocolaty, so smooth and fudgy. It is a chocolate-lovers dream. Bonus: it isn't cloyingly sweet like a lot of frostings are, so you don't have to worry about needing to scrape it off your cake.
This is a great go-to chocolate sheet cake. You can also convert it to make a layered cake. It makes a great 3-layer 6-inch cake or 2-layer 8 or 9-inch cake.
No real special ingredients needed to make this unforgettable chocolate sheet cake.
- Flour - I recommend all-purpose flour. You can substitute it with cake flour, but I do not recommend using bread flour. White whole wheat flour can also be a good substitute.
- Sugar - I use a mix of brown sugar and granulated sugar to add depth to the flavor and keep the cake moist. You can use just brown sugar or just granulated sugar if that is all you have available.
- Salt - I recommend fine sea salt when baking my recipes to give the best flavor enhancement. I also use Himalayan pink salt.
- Leavening - I've experimented with using baking powder and baking soda in this recipe. I highly recommend using the baking soda in the recipe!
- Cocoa powder - You can use either natural or Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Normally, with baking soda, we'd need to use baking powder, but the acidity in the yogurt helps give the baking soda its lift.
- Oil - I highly recommend using a flavorless oil like vegetable or canola. You can also replace the oil with melted butter which will give the cake added flavor. Butter tends to dampen the chocolate notes and doesn't keep the cake as moist, so use at your discretion.
- Yogurt - Use plain yogurt. I prefer nonfat Greek yogurt. You can also use sour cream or homemade buttermilk.
- Eggs - You should use large eggs for this recipe. Make sure they're at room temperature! You can leave the eggs in a bowl of very warm water for a few minutes to speed up the process of bringing them to room temperature.
- Coffee - This is a great way to use up any leftover coffee in the carafe. If you don't like coffee, trust me when I say you don't taste the coffee at all! You can substitute it with plain hot water though.
How to make
My favorite part about making chocolate sheet cakes is how easy it is to make - about as easy at it is to make mini chocolate donuts. No stand mixers, no waiting for butter to come to room temperature. Just a couple of bowls and your favorite cake pan.
- Put all the wet ingredients into a bowl and whisk until well-combined.
- Add all the dry ingredients into a separate bowl and mix until well-combined.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until there are no streaks of flour. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into a prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven.
- Top the baked and cooled cake with frosting and smooth.
- Decorate as desired!
I like to start making the fudgy chocolate frosting when the cake is baking. You need to melt the chocolate and give it some time to cool a bit before adding it to the bowl.
I recommend using a dark or semi-sweet chocolate for the frosting. Milk chocolate is sweet on its own, and adding it to the frosting only adds to that sweetness. We don't want a frosting that is cloyingly sweet.
It is worth it to use your favorite bar of chocolate (as opposed to chocolate chips). If you have issues melting chocolate, check out my guide on how to melt chocolate.
Keep an eye on the cake nearing the end! For the perfect cake that stays moist, we want to be sure we aren't overbaking the cake. Check the cake often using the toothpick test. A toothpick inserted into the cake should come out clean or with a couple of crumbs stuck to it.
Allow the cake to cool for at least 20 - 30 minutes before removing from the pan (you can also keep your cake in the baking pan, which is popular with sheet cakes). If you do remove it, loosen the sides and give the pan a few strong taps on the counter to help loosen the bottom. Flip quickly onto a wire rack, then flip again to bring the cake upright again.
Making ahead & storage
If you want to make the chocolate sheet cake ahead of time, you can definitely do that! The cake itself will last up to five days at room temperature in an airtight container.
For the best results, I recommend tightly wrapping and storing the unfrosted cake in an airtight container, then storing in the freezer up to a month. Remove from the freezer roughly 5 - 6 hours before you are ready to serve so it can thaw.
You can also make the frosting ahead of time. I recommend storing the frosting in an airtight container up to three days at room temperature before you need it. You can also store it in the refrigerator for up for a week. Leave covered at room temperature for several hours, or until it is at a smooth, spreadable consistency.
You can store the finished, frosted, and sliced cake in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days. You can also wrap the cake tightly, then store in an airtight container before storing it in the freezer for up to a month. I do not recommend storing the cake - especially after being sliced - in the refrigerator as it can dry out the cake.
Absolutely, you can! You should be able to turn this into a 3-layer 6-inch cake or a 2-layer 9-inch cake. You will need to adjust the baking times. I recommend checking the cake after 16 minutes, and every 5 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
I do not recommend adding melted chocolate to the cake as it will make the cake too dense and not as springy. You can add chocolate chips to the cake for bites of chocolate.
If you love chocolate and cake as much as I do, you will need to try out my absolute favorite: chocolate loaf cake. You can also check out this classic Depression cake. The fallen chocolate cake is gorgeous, simple, and so fudgy. For more sheet cake deliciousness, you will need to try my banana snack cake, banana sheet cake, red velvet sheet cake, and cannoli poke cake.
Chocolate Sheet Cake
- ⅔ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup buttermilk room temperature
- ⅔ cup sour cream or yogurt room temperature
- ½ cup hot espresso or hot water
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ⅔ cups all purpose flour
- ⅔ cup cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 3.5 ounces chocolate melted
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 3 - 5 tablespoons heavy cream
- Grease a 9x13 baking pan and dust with cocoa powder. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Whisk together the oil, buttermilk, sour cream, espresso, both sugars, and eggs together until well-combined.
- Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together until well-combined in a separate bowl.
- Mix together the wet and dry ingredients together. Mix just until there are no streaks of flour. Do not overmix, having some small lumps in the batter is okay.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake for about 22 - 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Start making the frosting as the cake is baking.
- Melt the chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.
- Beat the butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, mix well. The mixture may look lumpy, that is okay.
- Stir in the vanilla and salt.
- Gently drizzle in the melted chocolate and mix until well-combined.
- Add in the heavy cream one tablespoon at at time until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.
- Allow the baked cake to cool fully, then spread with the frosting.
- When measuring ingredients, especially the flour and powdered sugar, fluff the ingredient, then spoon into your measuring cup. Gently level off with a knife.
- You can use any neutral-tasting oil in the cake.
- Any brown sugar will work.
- Any chocolate will work, but you will get the best results with a darker chocolate and using chopped bars instead of chips.