The Chocolate Butter Cake

For the most part, Canadian and American recipes are the same. We use cups and teaspoons and all that stuff. Not a whole lot of conversions like those Europeans have to do.

But. There are a few things that continue to get me.

We don’t have “sticks of butter” around these parts. Most butter comes in 2-cup bricks. Our recipes measure out butter by the cup, not by the “stick.”

It is with this that I blame Saturday’s most recent baking fiasco.


I convinced my little sister that we should make her own chocolate cake for her birthday. She has a budding interest in food, but has so far only made cakes from a box.

Me, being the wise older one, said we had to do one from scratch! The whole cake! And the icing too!


After searching the internet far and wide, I ended up choosing The Pioneer Woman’s Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. Partially because I’m a sucker and will believe anything is the best if it says so in the title. Mostly because it looked like an easy enough cake for my sister to attempt for her first time.


I really can’t tell you how my brain determined 2 sticks butter = 2 cups Canadian butter. I knew it was a ludicrous amount as I threw it in the pot. But it was as I started stirring the buttery batter together that things finally clicked.

My sister and I started frantically throwing extra of the other ingredients into the buttery batter. We’ll have to double the recipe! Who doesn’t love twice as much cake??

I was concerned about icing though. There would be more cake than icing.

Until I dumped my one kilogram bag of icing sugar into the pot and realized 1 kg = 2.2 lbs, and not the other way around.

Really, I cannot explain how my brain determines these things. Some could say I’m preoccupied. I say there are more important things to fret about than silly conversions.


In the end, we ended up with THREE cakes. All made in different shaped pans for fun. All horribly iced and decorated because who has the patience for that when there’s cake to be eaten?

The end result was quite delicious. Very dense and brownie like. Although, not as rich as I was expecting. The icing was certainly the star of the show.

But I can’t tell you if this is how the cake is really supposed to taste, seeing as there were more than a few hiccups along the way (there may have also been melted plastic on the stove, just sayin).

Even though my sister’s first cake-from-scratch wasn’t perfect, I will say it was fun to make. Our kitchen disasters had us laughing and making fun of ourselves the whole way through. Proof positive that the process can often be more enjoyable than the end result.

Happy belated Sarah!

Posted on April 26, 2011, in Baking, Fun. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Maybe it’s because I’m part Canadian, or maybe you’ve just brought up a good point, but I tend to forget how much a stick of butter actually measures! I always find myself double checking. It would seem to me that a stick seems a little outdated… and ambiguous.
    p.s. I’ve made that chocolate sheet cake and yes, it is super tasty and surprisingly not too rich.

  2. I’m English and it’s the butter that always confuses me in American recipes as well. I have no idea what a cup of butter is. A cup of cubed butter is a lot different to a completely packed cup of butter or melted butter. It usually ends up with a bit of guess work and some googling. It may account for my slightly mixed success with American baking!

  3. The Teenage Taste

    Glad to hear that these things happen to everyone. I thought it was just accident prone me! ;]
    Still looks rather delicious, though!

  4. I believe 8 Tablespoons of butter are in a stick; 4 Tablespoons approximately equal 1/4 cup–so . . . . 2 sticks of butter would be approximately 1 cup of butter. (I doublechecked on the internetz so it must be right:-)

    (The sticks usually have markings on them for tablespoons/cups–that’s what made me think of it.)

  5. Wow you should just have a giveaway and send them all here. They look amazing and I bet that butter gives them such a decadent flavor. My brain has an odd way of thinking too that I have just given up on.

  6. 2 pounds, 2 sticks, 3 cakes, who cares…it all looks wonderful! Glad you are enjoying leftovers :)

  7. Ha!! Your post sure made me laugh.

  8. LOL!! I love you, Susan. Hey, three cakes really ain’t that bad. A blessing, really. ;-)

  9. love it!!

  10. Any snafu that ends with three chocolate cakes instead of one sounds like a blessing in disguise to me! :)

    I never knew sticks of butter were a U.S. thing. I like the convenience of the individually wrapped sticks.

  11. hahahaha! i think the ending could have been worse :)

  12. I love that you baked with your little sister! Baking with my big sister was always so much fun! And after all, triple the cake is triple the fun, so no harm, no foul. ;)

  13. I love that your baking adventures are so chaotic. I can totally relate!

  14. I’m always surprised to hear the differences when it comes to the US and Canada. So many things I would never have thought of!

    My little cousin was a novice baker when we lived together in 2005 – I came home to her making choc chip cookies using the recipe on the bag. I figured no harm could come of it but instead of reading the directions she just threw the ingredients together in the order they were listed on the bag. The eggs never got fully mixed in and she wound up with cookies with scrambled egg bits all over them. I still pretended they were yummy. ;)

  15. Some days I have the hardest time figuring out conversions, especially because I always have to cut recipes at least in half because I normally cook for one (me). I usually figure out where I’ve totally miscalculated WAY too late to fix it! Most of the time it turns out okay (probably because it’s usually cooking and not baking), but I’m made some pretty horrific recipes!

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