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Family Central: The Lost Boys on the Bread Aisle

Is there anything more adorable than a dad with a long list…lost in the grocery store? I love watching these men, especially the ones in suits and ties who have obviously just reigned over a boardroom all day but cannot find the bread aisle to save their lives.

Of course, there are plenty of men who know more about the ins and outs of the grocery store than any woman, but it’s the dads with three kids in their cart and the deer-in-headlights look in their eyes that grab my attention. I find myself offering to help them again and again.

Going with my Daddy to the grocery store when I was a child was not just an errand. It was an event. We never came home with only what my mother had written on the list. Mama may have planned roasted chicken for dinner, and somehow Dad would come home with rib eyes or even lobster. If the list said milk, then he made sure we had white, chocolate and maybe strawberry as well. And more than once I can remember his letting all three of my siblings and me select our very own half gallons of ice cream.

As a child, I don’t think I knew anywhere safer – or sillier – on the planet than being with my father. Our relationship has helped to determine so much in my life, from my self-image and work ethic to how I mother my sons…and even my sense of humor.

My father has two favorite cakes: Lemon Pound Cake and a Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake. I still make these two cakes all the time, and although they are simple recipes, friends ask me to bake these 10 to 1 over any complicated cake I have made.

This Father’s Day, our table will have the usual, comforting father favorites: meatloaf and potatoes, sweet tea, homemade rolls and a warm Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake topped with vanilla ice cream. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, this menu ought to tell our fathers we love them very much.

Texas Sheet Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa
3 Tbs buttermilk
2 to 2 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans, optional

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 15x10x1-inch or 13x9x2-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup butter, 1/3 cup cocoa and 1 cup of water. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour chocolate mixture into the dry mixture. Stir well with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended. Add eggs, 1/2 cup of buttermilk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. Stir again until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake about 22 to 25 minutes for the 15×10-inch pan or about 30 minutes for the 13×9-inch pan. Remove from oven.

While cake is still hot, prepare icing by melting butter on stove with cocoa and buttermilk. Gently stir in sifted powdered sugar and vanilla (and toasted pecans if using). Pour warm chocolate icing over the warm cake, spreading evenly. Place cake in pan on a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

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