Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Mar 10, 2012 10:52 AM

How to make "sheet" cake

I am hosting my nieces baby shower next week and have gotten it into my head that I want to make a baby block cake (think multiple small baby blocks in single serving size). I am not a baker and have always been challenged to cut regular cakes into layers.

Is it possible to make a sheet cake using my half sheet pans and have it not come out totally dry and tasteless? In my head, if I start with a sheet cake then I can use my square cutters to cut same size pieces and layer into block shapes.

Does anyone have a recipe (chocolate preferred) or method suggestion to start with a box mix (again, I am not really a baker)?



  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)

    "wacky" cake is almost impossible to screw up. it can easily be made in sheet pans. it can also be made ahead and frozen.

    it's very tasty and cheaper than box mix too.

    4 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Thanks for posting this link, I'm going to have to give it a try. As a single, it doesn't make sense for me to make a whole cake, but sometimes I just want cake, but balk at paying $2 for a slice at the supermarket (since I don't like their frosting anyhow). But an 8" square pan's worth fits me to a T.

      I'm surprised by the addition of vinegar and there being no eggs, but a 4 fork rating at Epicurious can't be that wrong.

      (I guess I could have just been baking a half recipe of cake all along though, eh?)

      1. re: RelishPDX

        Wacky cake, Crazy cake, depression cake--whatever you call it, it's fabulous. It's been my family's favorite chocolate cake for decades. And only in the last five or so years that I realized...if you don't add the cocoa, it doesn't have to be chocolate. Since then, I've made caramel, peanut butter, vanilla, cherry, lemon, etc. versions of the cake.

        As easy as cake mix, and so much better? Yes, please!

        1. re: modthyrth

          I made a pan of this cake this morning, and I've just dished out a slice to have with a scoop of ice cream. I mixed it all in a separate bowl, greased a non-stick 8x8 pan with a bit of lard, but the bottom stuck to the pan. That was okay though, I just used a silicone spatula to dig a nice piece of it out.

          I can tell it's not 'real cake' in the sense that cakes made with cake flour and eggs are, but it's darned good cake! I'll probably freeze half of it and make it again when I want cake on the spur of the moment.

      2. re: hotoynoodle

        Thanks for the link. It's March Break this week and I am in charge of a few 6 and 8 year olds. I'll let them give this recipe a try!

      3. I just needed a large cake for a last-minute event (for a crowd that wouldn't appreciate homemade)
        I used two box mixes and my big rectangular, flat bottomed roasting pan - well-lined with buttered parchment. It worked great, and I didn't get a domed top - it would have been perfect for cutting in to cubes.

        1. If you want a chocolate cake, not from a box, the Hershey's perfectly chocolate cake from the back of the cocoa package is pretty fool-proof.

          1. Depending on how big you want the cubes, you could use 8x8 pans and cut that into 4 pieces. Stack them and that will give you two almost perfect cubes. For a new cake baker, I second the rec for the Hershey cake--either the perfectly chocolate cake or the black magic cake (the black magic cake is my preference and I'd use coffee in the perfectly chocolate cake instead of water). Neither dome, and I can make the batter in less time than it takes for my oven to preheat. I might have a picture of a cake I did that way for a first birthday on my main page here (I did it years ago--I think the birthday boy is now 10). I've tried to load a lot of pictures but have had problems with it, never mind that I'm a terrible photographer.

            Edit: I just noticed that you said you want to make many single serving cakes in block sizes. Having done individual cakes before, if you don't bake/frost regularly, that is a lot of work--frosting an individual little cake is as much as frosting one big cake, if not harder. I made 10 cakes ones like that and was cursing myself after the first one since I had to do it 9 more times. And, I bake/frost all the time!

            3 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              I totally agree, chowser! Little cut cakes have a LOT more problems for crumb-coating than large uncut ones.

              1. re: chowser

                i briefly worked in a bakery commissary. freezing the cakes before frosting solves the crumb issue.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  That's a good idea. The crumbs are one thing, but frosting every cake is also time consuming. And, finding room in the freezer for a lot of single cakes would be another challenge for me. It's not unmanageable to do single cakes per person. I just wanted to point out that it's far more time consuming than doing one cake.

              2. Half sheet pans, or others of similar depth, are used to make roll cakes (jelly rolls, buch de noel). So clearly that size pan can be used to bake your cake. You just need to watch the baking time so you don't over bake it.

                But I can also imagine baking a chocolate cake (such as the simple wacky recipe) in a deeper pan (e.g. 8x8), and cutting that into cubes, about an inch in all dimensions. Wacky cake is easiest to 'frost' with powdered sugar. If you had (or made) stencils, you could use those to stencil powdered sugar letters on to the cubes.

                I imagine the cubes would be even better if dipped in chocolate, say a ganache (dark chocolate melted in hot cream). But that would be more work. Spreading a frosting on all the cut sides of cut cake cubes could be an exercise in frustration.

                Another 'cube' idea - brownies. If rich enough the cubes can be bite size, and don't need frosting.