Dads get a little short shrift on Father's Day, especially compared to all the hoopla surrounding Mother's Day.

There is, however, something you can do to make both him and the day special: Bake him a cake, a simple one in which the whole family can take part. Who doesn't love cake? For this particular celebration, a sheet cake can be just the perfect thing.

Sheet cakes are pretty simple to make — a single layer, baked in a sheet-cake pan, a jelly-roll pan or a 9-by-13-inch pan. They are also quick — you can make one within an hour, sometimes using just one bowl. Only one layer, always with frosting, which can be spread over the top or decorated to the hilt. Cake decorators suggest putting the frosting in the middle of the cooled cake, then spreading it gently with an off-set spatula end to end.

They are also easier to cut and serve, almost always in squares, as you would brownies or bars. Sheet cakes are also easier to transport — you don't need to worry about layers slipping or toppling over. Because of that, they are often a fixture at summer cookouts, picnics, potlucks and reunions.

Cakes, in whatever form, are made up of simple, basic ingredients: flour, butter or shortening (or both), sugar, eggs, milk, a leavening agent and flavoring. In the cake world, there are literally thousands of recipes, some centuries old. Most of us have our favorites. Would you be surprised that the most popular is chocolate?

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The question is, can you convert a layered-cake recipe into a sheet cake? Yes, though it should be a standard recipe, not angel food or one with a meringue. Also, make sure the baking pan is deep enough to hold the extra batter. If in doubt, you can have a cupcake pan ready if you worry about overflow. It may also need to bake longer. Keep your eye on it and follow the same rules you normally do to check for doneness — the center should feel springy, and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

One of the most popular sheet cakes over the years has been the Texas brownie cake. It took the country by storm after the recipe first appeared in a Dallas newspaper in 1957. Some bakers have even described it as "the little black dress of chocolate cakes." It's moist, chocolaty and delicious. What sets it apart is that it's a thinner cake that's frosted shortly after it comes out of the oven.

Dad would love it — but then again, he'll love anything you bake for him.

Texas Sheet Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1 cup water

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs, slightly beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or spray a jelly-roll pan (15-by-10-by-1-inch). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Set aside. In a 2-quart saucepan,bring to a boil the butter, water and cocoa powder. Stir well to combine. Pour the mixture over the flour/sugar/salt combination. Stir until well-mixed. Then add the buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla and the eggs. Mix until everything is well blended. Pour into pan, spreading evenly. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. While cake is baking, make the frosting.

Frosting:

1/2 cup butter

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

6 tablespoons whole milk

2 1/2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

In a 2-quart saucepan, bring to a simmer the butter, cocoa powder and milk. Take off heat and beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Either stir in the pecans or sprinkle them over the frosting. When cake comes out of oven, gently pour the frosting over the hot cake and carefully spread it around if necessary. Cool cake completely.

Post Bulletin food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to life@postbulletin.com.