Aunt Foy's Sheath Cake

Aunt Foy's Sheath Cake

Texas Sheet Cake with a twist! Gluten-free, dairy-free, and with a flavor that is as warm as a loving embrace from your favorite Auntie!


A true Texas Sheet Cake is a thing of beauty, just like my late Great-Aunt Foy. She always lied about her age; even her own children didn't know her real age until they, themselves were adults! She recently passed at the age of 99-years, and this was her signature dessert dish. Perhaps loads of sugar and butter are the key to a long and happy life? Who am I to question that philosophy?

This is an updated, gluten-free, dairy-free, and cinnamon-substituted (chili + cardamom = cinnamon without the headache for moi) version of Aunt Foy's Sheath Cake. Yes, "sheath" is what we all called it! Like a 1950's ladies shape-clinging dress with a tailored bodice and pencil skirt. Although the Aunt Foy I knew always donned pastel pants and blouses, her perpetually trim figure would have looked stunning in a sheath dress! Now that I'm older and wiser myself, I realize that her lovely Sheath Cake, made in North Texas, is actually a Texas Sheet Cake with a twist.

Aunt Foy laced her decant buttermilk-chocolate cake with cinnamon. It gives such a warmth to this already rich cake, a warmth that makes it memorable. And the frosting, with loads of cocoa and powder sugar dotted with native Texas pecans? Nothing tastes like this cake. Nothing. It tastes like North Texas to me.


For Cake
  • 2 cups raw sugar
  • 2 cups Cake-on-Board Gluten-Free Cake Flour Blend
  • 1 cup palm shortening
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • ½ cup Non-Buttermilk Buttermilk (made with almond milk; I use Malk Organics because it is born and raised in Houston and is gum-free; if you'd like to make your own, go to Almond Milk)
  • 2 eggs at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp chili powder (plain)
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
For Frosting
  • ½ cup palm shortening
  • â…› tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • 6 Tbsp Almond Milk or Malk
  • 1 lb powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • Several whole pecans for decorating


    For Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Select pan for cake. This is a really, super flexible recipe. It works with the traditional 11" X 13" metal sheet pan (bake for 20 minutes), a combo of a 9" X 13" baking pan and 8" X 8" baking pan (bake for 20 minutes), and just one 9" X 13" baking pan (bake for 35 minutes). Glass or metal, it works perfectly every single time!
  2. Make Non-Buttermilk Buttermilk using almond milk. Set aside for 10 minutes while you do the other steps.
  3. If your eggs are not already at room temperature, then pull out the eggs from the fridge, place into a bowl of warm water, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Into large bowl, add sugar and flour. Using whisk, combine well for a minute in order to lighten the texture. Set aside.
  5. Into medium saucepan, add palm shortening, salt, cocoa powder, and water. On medium-low heat, bring to boil, stirring well. Do not burn the chocolate sauce.
  6. As soon as chocolate sauce has reached a boil, immediately remove from heat, turn off stove, and pour hot chocolate sauce (it really smells like hot cocoa) over the reserved sugar-flour mix. Using fork, mix well.
  7. Over batter, add all of the remaining ingredients. Yes, that's right, all at one time...the Non-Buttermilk Buttermilk, the beaten eggs, the baking soda, the vanilla, and the spices. Using fork, combine well. Be careful, as it is very wet and splashes everywhere if you are a little too forceful with that fork! Mix very well, and batter will come together to look like runny cake batter.
  8. Gently pour batter into prepared sheet pan, glass dish, or metal baking pan.
  9. Place into preheated oven and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (for sheet pan) or 35 minutes (for glass dish or metal baking pan).
  10. Cake is done when it bounces back when pressed gently with finger or when toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove cake from oven. Turn off oven. Set cake onto counter top while you make the frosting.
  11. Hey, friend, I did not say remove cake from pan! Leave it there. This is a casual dessert, meant to be served straight from the pan in which it is baked!
  12. For Frosting
  13. Once cake has been removed from oven, immediately start working on that sweet frosting!
  14. Into medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, add shortening, salt, cocoa, and almond milk. Bring to boil, stirring, and do not let it over-cook, please. Remove from heat and turn off burner.
  15. Pour cocoa sauce into large bowl. Over bowl of cocoa sauce, sift powdered sugar (trust me, sifted powdered sugar is the key to shimmery-smooth frosting). Mix gently so that powdered sugar does not coat your entire kitchen, only half of the kitchen, ok?
  16. Pour directly onto thickened chocolate the full tablespoon of vanilla and 1 cup chopped pecans. Mix well until frosting is uniformly chocolatey with dots of pecans.
  17. Immediately pour frosting over warm cake. Working quickly, use spatula to spread frosting evenly before it begins to set.
  18. Using the remaining whole pecans, make a lovely pattern atop the cake.
  19. Serve at room temperature to your adoring family and friends. At first hint of that spicy cinnamon-like flavor, go ahead and give a little thanks above for dear Aunt Foy and aunts everywhere.


  • Serve the same day as baked, at room temperate, in the same pan in which it was baked! Fewer dishes to clean = happier you!
  • Store leftover cake in storage containers in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Frosted cake freezes like a sweet dream. Cover with several layers of plastic wrap (tightly wrapped). Place into freezer storage bag or container. Store in freezer for up to 3 months; defrost overnight before serving.
  • This cake is very rich, just forewarning you, with love. If you are watching your FODMAPs, then cut just a tiny piece.
  • Migraine Warning: Chocolate (cocoa), Citrus (lemon juice in non-buttermilk), and Nuts (almond milk in non-buttermilk and pecans).