Recipes | Cakes & Cupcakes

Low FODMAP Texas Sheet Cake

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Our Low FODMAP Texas Sheet Cake sticks close to the classic: large, thin, moist chocolate cake with a poured-on chocolate icing studded with nuts. Easy to make, serves a crowd – and you will definitely get your chocolate fix!

closeup Low FODMAP Texas Sheet Cake square on white plate
Chocolatey, rich, moist and very easy to make – Texas Sheet Cake! And ours is low FODMAP.

Let’s Talk Texas Sheet Cake

Cutting to the chase, no one can agree on the origins of this flat, chocolate sheet cake. A few aspects are consistent from recipe to recipe: it is easy; baked in a sheet pan (more below); is moist and featuring buttermilk (almost always); and it has a cooked chocolate icing, studded with nuts, most often pecans, poured right on top.

A mention was made as early as 1936 in the Galveston Daily News. Similar cakes have been written about in Alabama, and it has sometimes been referred to as “sheath” cake, buttermilk brownies, Mexican chocolate cake, plain old chocolate sheet cake and even a brownie sheet. A recipe appeared in 1967 in the Huntsville Heritage Cookbook for a “Mrs. Elkin’s Sheath Cake” that used pecans in the frosting.

There has been mention of Lady Bird Johnson being involved with the cake – either creating or naming – but historians have found no mention in her archives.

Let’s just call this DELICIOUS!

Low FODMAP Texas Sheet Cake square on white plate
Our recipe serves 30! Perfect for a get-together. Travels right in the pan.
What Is A Half-Sheet Pan?

Not all rimmed baking sheet pans are created equal. The term “half-sheet pan” is used to describe a rimmed, sturdy, aluminum commercial-grade pan with dimensions of 18-inches by 13-inches (46 cm by 33 cm). You will sometimes see dimensions varying by ⅛ (3 mm) or ¼ (6 mm) of an inch due to where the pan is measured; the 1-inch (2.5 cm) rimmed sides do flare out a bit.
 
They are called half-sheet pans because full sized sheet pans (which bakeries and restaurants use) measure 26-inches by 18-inches (66 cm by 46 cm), but these will not fit in a home oven. 
 
I have written many cookie cookbooks and when I was embarking upon my first one, A Baker’s Field Guide to Christmas Cookies, the first thing I did was compare sheet pans since I knew I was going to be baking hundreds, if not thousands of cookies. 
 
I tested many, from flat, rimless sheet pans to textured ones; ones with two layers of metal pan with air in-between; nonstick…you name it. None come close to the standard commercial-grade aluminum half-sheet pans for durability and most of all, even heating. They won’t warp and will last for years. Your cookies and cakes and even roasted vegetables and proteins will bake and cook beautifully.
 
And, by the way, your tools do make a huge difference. If you use equipment other than what our recipes have been tested with and you get so-so results, it can absolutely be due to your equipment. Sometimes it isn’t you!!! Some folks think they can’t bake, but if they used the right tools and equipment, they would see that they can.
 
I like these half-sheet pans from Nordic Ware.

 Is Cocoa Low FODMAP?

Great question, which I actually have a lot to say about. I have taught classes to professionals and home bakers for decades about chocolate and cocoa and know a fair amount. I have issues with the way Monash presents cocoa in their smartphone app. I delve into this in depth in our article, All About Cocoa. 
 
The short answer, here, is that yes, there are low FODMAP amounts of cocoa and if you follow our serving sizes of this cake, you will be diet compliant.

What Is Natural Cocoa?

Not all cocoa is the same. Natural cocoa has a pH level between 5 and 6, which means that it is a bit acidic. This acidity is tempered in baking recipes by the inclusion of baking soda, with which the cocoa reacts (producing carbon dioxide). Some common U.S. brands of natural cocoa are Hershey’sScharffen Berger and Ghirardelli. I also like Penzey’s Natural High Fat Cocoa and also Callebaut Natural Cocoa Powder.
 
It is not the same as Dutch-Processed cocoa in flavor, color or in the way it reacts in a recipe. Please use what is called for in individual recipes – in this case, natural cocoa.

What Is “Faux” Buttermilk?

As of this writing there is no low FODMAP buttermilk using lactose-free milk available in the U.S., so we make an approximation. Our recipe for “faux” buttermilk is essentially soured milk.
 
Buttermilk, or soured milk, gives Texas Sheet Cake a tender crumb and moist texture.

Can I Make This Without Nuts?

You can make this without nuts, but the results will be quite different. The texture of the nuts, both from a visual as well as gustatory perspective really add dimension to this recipe. I do give you the option of walnuts or pecans, as either works very well.

Making Texas Sheet Cake

For The Cake: Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Coat a half-sheet pan with nonstick spray, then coat with flour.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups (254 g) flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda; set aside. 

dry ingredients for texas sheet cake in bowl
No need to sift. Just whisk your dry ingredients together.

In a small saucepan, melt butter, then whisk in cocoa.

natural cocoa in measuring cup held over pot of melted butter

Whisk in boiling water and allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then remove from heat.

boiling chocolate mixture in saucepan

Pour warm chocolate over flour mixture and stir in to combine. In a large liquid measuring cup whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.

faux buttrmilk and egg in measuring cup
Read about making low FODMAP buttermilk before starting.

Stir this buttermilk mixture into chocolate/ flour mixture until well blended. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer if necessary. 

Texas Sheet cake batter in pan unbaked

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs. Place on rack.

Texas Sheet Cake baked in pan
Bake until a few moist crumbs are clinging to an inserted toothpick.

For The Icing: As soon as the cake is pulled out of the oven, melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in cocoa until smooth, then remove from heat. Whisk in cream, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.

making chocolate frosting in saucepan

Stir in nuts.

Texas Sheet Cake Frosting in saucepan
Chocolatey icing is made in a saucepan.

Immediately pour the warm frosting over the warm cake, using a small offset spatula to help it to into the corners and cover the cake completely.

closeup-of-Texas-sheet-cake-frosting-on-cake-in-pan-aqua-wooden-background-1

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes to firm up icing. Cut into squares and enjoy!

Texas Sheet Cake in pan with spatula
Texas Sheet Cake might be thin, but it is mighty and rich.

Cake is best served the day it is made but may be covered with plastic wrap and/or foil and stored overnight at room temperature.

FODMAP Information

Our recipes are based on Monash University and FODMAP Friendly science.

  • Butter: Both Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have lab tested butter. Monash states that a low FODMAP Green Light portion is 1 tablespoon or 19 g and also states that “butter is high in fat and does not contain carbohydrates (FODMAPs)”. FODMAP Friendly gives it a “Pass” at 1 tablespoon or 19 g. Both recommended serving sizes are presented as part of healthy eating guidelines, not as maximum FODMAP serving size. Fat can affect guy motility and trigger IBS symptoms in some people. Eat to your tolerance.
  • Cocoa: Monash University has lab tested what they call “cocoa” and also “cacao” and they show different FODMAP content. The problem is that from the chocolate manufacturing industry’s perspective, there is no difference between cacao and cocoa powder. The FDA, The Food Standards for Australia and New Zealand, the ICCO (International Cocoa Organization) and the National Confectioners Association do not even recognize the term “cacao” to describe cocoa powder. We have an article, All About Cocoa, that we encourage you to read. It attempts to explain the discrepancies in the Monash lab testing.
  • Dairy: The low FODMAP diet is not a dairy-free diet. It is, however, low in lactose. Many dairy ingredients are low in lactose, such as heavy cream and many cheeses.
  • Pecans: Monash and FODMAP Friendly have both lab tested pecans. Monash says that a low FODMAP serving size is 10 pecan halves or 20g. The small print tells us that they are not High FODMAP until they reach a 100 g serving size, or about 40 halves. You might notice that on the FODMAP Friendly app the image is for pecans in the shell. We have asked FODMAP Friendly for clarification and they told us that the ¼ cup (30 g) low FODMAP serving size is for nuts OUT of the shell and is approximately 15 pecan halves.
  • Sugar: Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have both lab tested white, granulated sugar. Monash states that a Green Light low FODMAP serving size of white sugar is ¼ cup (50 g). FODMAP Friendly simply states that they have tested 1 tablespoon and that it is low FODMAP. Regular granulated white sugar is sucrose, which is a disaccharide made up of equal parts glucose and fructose. Sucrose is broken down and absorbed efficiently in the small intestine. 
  • Walnuts: Both Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have lab tested walnuts. FODMAP Friendly gives them a “Pass” at ¼ cup (30 g) portions. Monash lists the same gram amount as low FODMAP and pegs the volume at 10 walnut halves. 

Please always refer to the Monash University & FODMAP Friendly smartphone apps for the most up-to-date lab tested information. As always, your tolerance is what counts; please eat accordingly. The ultimate goal of the low FODMAP diet is to eat as broadly as possible, without triggering symptoms, for the healthiest microbiome.

corner-of-Texas-Sheet-cake-in-pan-close-up
closeup Low FODMAP Texas Sheet Cake square on white plate
4.75 from 4 votes

Low FODMAP Texas Sheet Cake

Our Low FODMAP Texas Sheet Cake sticks close to the classic: large, thin, moist chocolate cake with a poured-on chocolate icing studded with nuts. Easy to make, serves a crowd – and you will definitely get your chocolate fix!

Makes: 30 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Author: Dédé Wilson

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake:

Icing:

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (151 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup (21 g) sifted natural cocoa
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) heavy cream, conventional or lactose-free
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups (115 g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup (100 g) finely chopped pecans or walnuts

Preparation:

  1. For The Cake: Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Coat a half-sheet pan with nonstick spray, then coat with flour.

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups (254 g) flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt butter, then whisk in cocoa. Whisk in boiling water and allow mixture to boil for 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Pour warm chocolate over flour mixture and stir in to combine.
  4. In a large liquid measuring cup whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Stir this buttermilk mixture into chocolate/ flour mixture until well blended. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer if necessary.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs. Place on rack.
  6. For The Icing: As soon as the cake is pulled out of the oven, melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in cocoa until smooth, then remove from heat. Whisk in cream, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Stir in nuts. Immediately pour the warm frosting over the warm cake, using a small offset spatula to help it to into the corners and cover the cake completely. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes to firm up icing. Cut into squares and enjoy! Cake is best served the day it is made but may be covered with plastic wrap and/or foil and stored overnight at room temperature.

Notes:

FODMAP Information

Our recipes are based on Monash University and FODMAP Friendly science.

• Butter: Both Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have lab tested butter. Monash states that a low FODMAP Green Light portion is 1 tablespoon or 19 g and also states that “butter is high in fat and does not contain carbohydrates (FODMAPs)”. FODMAP Friendly gives it a “Pass” at 1 tablespoon or 19 g. Both recommended serving sizes are presented as part of healthy eating guidelines, not as maximum FODMAP serving size. Fat can affect guy motility and trigger IBS symptoms in some people. Eat to your tolerance.
• Cocoa: Monash University has lab tested what they call “cocoa” and also “cacao” and they show different FODMAP content. The problem is that from the chocolate manufacturing industry’s perspective, there is no difference between cacao and cocoa powder. The FDA, The Food Standards for Australia and New Zealand, the ICCO (International Cocoa Organization) and the National Confectioners Association do not even recognize the term “cacao” to describe cocoa powder. We have an article, All About Cocoa, that we encourage you to read. It attempts to explain the discrepancies in the Monash lab testing.
• Dairy: The low FODMAP diet is not a dairy-free diet. It is, however, low in lactose. Many dairy ingredients are low in lactose, such as heavy cream and many cheeses.
• Pecans: Monash and FODMAP Friendly have both lab tested pecans. Monash says that a low FODMAP serving size is 10 pecan halves or 20g. The small print tells us that they are not High FODMAP until they reach a 100 g serving size, or about 40 halves. You might notice that on the FODMAP Friendly app the image is for pecans in the shell. We have asked FODMAP Friendly for clarification and they told us that the ¼ cup (30 g) low FODMAP serving size is for nuts OUT of the shell and is approximately 15 pecan halves.
• Sugar: Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have both lab tested white, granulated sugar. Monash states that a Green Light low FODMAP serving size of white sugar is ¼ cup (50 g). FODMAP Friendly simply states that they have tested 1 tablespoon and that it is low FODMAP. Regular granulated white sugar is sucrose, which is a disaccharide made up of equal parts glucose and fructose. Sucrose is broken down and absorbed efficiently in the small intestine.
• Walnuts: Both Monash University and FODMAP Friendly have lab tested walnuts. FODMAP Friendly gives them a “Pass” at ¼ cup (30 g) portions. Monash lists the same gram amount as low FODMAP and pegs the volume at 10 walnut halves.

Please always refer to the Monash University & FODMAP Friendly smartphone apps for the most up-to-date lab tested information. As always, your tolerance is what counts; please eat accordingly. The ultimate goal of the low FODMAP diet is to eat as broadly as possible, without triggering symptoms, for the healthiest microbiome.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 61mg | Potassium: 3mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 39IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more. For a more detailed explanation, please read our article Understanding The Nutrition Panel Within Our Recipes.