Sunday, May 16, 2010

Alan Jackson's Chocolate Cake (my now favorite chocolate cake recipe)

I have made my share of chocolate cakes but this one really really knocked my socks off. I wasn't even prepared to be wowed. I mean, it's a sheet cake. It's just a casual, serve in the pan, non decorated chocolate cake. Sounds pretty ho hum. But this cake is now my hands down complete favorite chocolate cake I've ever made. This cake is so ultra moist and so chocolatey. But it's not a dark chocolate and it's not milk chocolate either. It's somewhere in between - perfect actually. I found this recipe quite by accident while I was reading a friend's Paula Deen magazine. There was an article in there about Alan Jackson and his daughter Mattie. This recipe is a family favorite of theirs and I guess the recipe is also in his cookbook (which I didn't know he had but then again, I hardly know who he is). The photo in the magazine was sure nothing special but for some reason I was still compelled to make it. I cannot rave enough about this recipe. I will for sure be making this again and again. Easy to make. Easy to transport. Easy to serve but most of all, it's completely satisfying and delicious. I LOVE this recipe!! Mark this recipe as one you MUST try. I'm telling you, you won't be disappointed.

I made a few personal notes, in blue, down below in the recipe.

Gosh, this cake just looks so unimpressive sitting here in the pan. Don't let that fool you! It may not be the prettiest cake but it's the best tasting!

You can tell in this photo how the fudge icing seeps down into the holes in the cake. When the icing cools & solidifies, it makes the whole cake super fudgey & moist. That's why I think bigger and lots of holes poked in the cake are a must.

This cake was wonderful while warm and the next day is just as delicious if not better. Wow, I'm going to have a difficult time leaving this cake alone. Better give it away, quickly.

Alan Jackson's Chocolate Cake
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup butter (divided - 1 stick for the cake & 1 stick for the icing)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup cocoa (divided - (1/4 cup for cake & 1/4 cup for icing)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 (16 ounce) box powdered sugar (about 4 cups)
  1. Spray a 13x9 inch pan with nonstick baking spray
  2. In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar and salt together
  3. In a large saucepan heat water, 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, oil, 1/4 cup of the cocoa.Whisk until blended. Bring just to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and stir until smooth.
  5. Blend in buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, 1 teaspoon of the vanilla and vinegar until smooth.(I combined my buttermilk, vinegar, baking soda and vanilla in a measuring cup before I added it to the bowl)
  6. Pour into the greased 13x9 inch baking pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.(mine took less time so be sure and check starting at 25 minutes)
  8. After removing cake from the oven, place on cooling rack. While the cake is still hot punch holes all over using a fork. (I used a rather thick chopstick to poke holes in the cake and it worked perfectly. I made a LOT of holes - like every 1/2 inch. The holes that you make are where the fudgy icing will seep into so I wanted to make sure there were lots of kind of large holes. The holes cannot be seen after icing has been poured on & cooled)
  9. Make Icing:
  10. In a sauce pan, over medium-high heat, melt remaining 1 stick of butter, add the milk (I used whipping cream instead of the milk) and the remaining 1/4 cup cocoa and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. Stir until smooth. (I used my electric hand mixer for this part. It made my icing super smooth & silky) Pour over the hot cake. Let cool and enjoy! (I couldn't wait till the cake was cool. I cut and ate some while warm. SOOO good! Like a warm pudding cake.)


Anonymous said...

This is my favorite sheet cake recipe as well! It's also known as Texas Sheet Cake. I put walnuts in my frosting. Mmmm!

Anonymous said...

Okay... you sold me. I'll be making this soon, very soon.

Louise said...

vinegar? interesting... what kind of cocoa do you use? a good chocolate cake recipe is hard to come by. Either it's super $$$ to make or it tastes shallow and like baking powder...
this looks like fudgey goodness...

Anonymous said...

如果,人類也像鼠輩一般,花很多時間來吃飯和睡覺,一定會改善健康。 .............................................

Foodessa said...

Heidi, thanks for sharing this great version of choco cake. Now, I was many miles do I need to walk to shed those very tiny calories?
Flavourful wishes, Claudia

Anonymous said...

hi was wondering whether there was a substitute for buttermilk,,thanks,,

Heidi said...

There IS a wonderful substitute for buttermilk that I actually use more than I use buttermilk itself! It's a mixture of regular milk with vinegar mixed in. Regular white vinegar, not apple cider vinegar. Just under one cup of milk with one tablespoon vinegar mixed in. Let it sit 5 minutes..and there you have it! Buttermilk. You can also use lemon juice mixed with milk but I've always used the vinegar.

Anonymous said...

Hi! i just wanted to let you know i tried this cake recipe out today for valentines day and it's amazing!!!

Heidi said...

I'm telling you, this cake may not look fancy but it is soooo good!! It's a casual sheet cake sort of cake - not a layer cake. It's the icing that makes it. The cake itself is good but the icing brings it over the top!!! I love this cake!

Anonymous said...

I made this over the weekend, and I did not like it one bit. I have done further research and discovered that the original recipe called for two sticks margarine. I never use margarine in cooking, but the reason this didn't turn out like Alan Jackson's is because this is not his recipe. And I used heavy cream like she did, and I will be using milk like it called for in the original recipe. This frosing was so thick that it just sat on the top of the cake and didn't go in the holes.

Heidi said...


That's a total bummer that your cake didn't turn out. I can't find my original Paula Deen magazine at the moment BUT I do find several copies of the recipe online and half say butter & half say margerine. I've never baked with margerine so I cannot say how that would turn out. Otherwise I'm sure I followed the recipe unless otherwise noted. I know I used whipping cream instead of milk but I made that notation. I'm sorry it didn't work for you. I understand that feeling when you get excited about finding an awesome new recipe that so many folks have raved about & then it just flops for me. That has happened to me many time and still does ocassionally. Like I said in my post, this Alan Jackson chocolate cake might not be attractive but I love the flavor and texture so much. But now you have me curious to find the copy of my old Paula Deen magazie with the recipe in it!

Anonymous said...

We love this recipe so much that I have to make it at every office function. In fact, I have to amke it next week. I lost my recipe and found your blog w/ recipe. Your pictures are making me starve to death for this cake.

Heather said...

I don't know how anyone could bake this cake and not absolutely love it. I have made it three times now and we adore it. I doubt I will ever make another kind of chocolate cake. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I think your tiny changes are great since I prefer butter over margarine and cream over milk.

P.s. There are NEVER leftovers of this cake and that's what lets me know its a success.

Ragini Pundir said...

i bake this cake today but it turned out very hard what can be the reason i used bakin powder instead of bakin soda is this the reason dat i didnt turned out perfectly

Heidi said...


Oh my...I'm sorry your cake turned out hard. I'm not good at diagnosing what happened, especially when you followed the recipe. But maybe the use of baking powder instead of soda could have had an effect. When you use vinegar in a recipe, I know that soda is the leavener you want to use. But I'm sorry it was a hard cake. I haven't made this cake in awhile but it's definitely supposed to have a soft moist texture. Hope you didn't have to present it at a dinner party or anything.

Sanobar Fatima said...

hi heidi, you have used salted butter or unsalted butter?wanna try this cake it looks delicious.if i use milk instead of cream like you have used i will not get thick frosting like yours I guess.

Heidi said...

I always use unsalted butter when I bake but you can use salted as well. Just leave out the extra half teaspoon. As for the milk I would use either use whole milk ,half and half or cream in the icing. I would not use a lesser fat milk.

Sanobar Fatima said...

ok thanks for reply.I will let you know how it turned out.

Anonymous said...

I love Alan Jackson lol <3
I have a signed cook book, you should definitely get it. There's wayyy more and his daughter has a winery in Austin, TX that is amazing also. Great family. He's a legend to country music and it's a damn shame that nobody knows him like they should.

jerry said...

This is the best chocolate cake recipe i have ever made!! tyvm


Anonymous said...

Hi Heidi,
I made this cake and it was awesome.. soft and moist... i didnt ice it and still everyone liked it..
Thank you for wonderful recipe..