Try a Derby Cake for a Quick and Tasty Treat

January 10, 2019

Derby Cake

You don't have to be a baker to make this fabulous sheet cake.

Prep Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Author Ella Jewett


  • 2 cups flour all-purpose
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 3/4 cup salted butter melted and cooled completely
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup miniature chocolate chips
  • baking spray with flour
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups walnut halves and pieces


  1. Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together butter, water, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add butter mixture to flour mixture; stir just until combined. (Some small lumps may remain.) Stir in chocolate chips just until incorporated. Spread batter in a 15- x 10-inch jelly roll pan well coated with baking spray. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack, about 45 minutes.

  2. Prepare the Frosting: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-high until butter starts to foam, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring often, until butter turns a light amber color and starts to smell nutty. Remove from heat, and pour into the bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Cool butter to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Add powdered sugar, half-and-half, and bourbon. Beat on high speed, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as necessary, until fluffy and well blended. Set aside.

  3. Prepare the Candied Walnuts: Line a plate or baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add walnuts, sugar, and butter; cook, stirring constantly, until butter melts. Continue to cook, stirring often, until sugar melts and turns amber and walnuts are well coated, 5 to 6 minutes. Working quickly, spread walnut mixture on the parchment-lined plate, using a spatula or fork to separate the mixture into small pieces before sugar hardens. Let stand until sugar hardens and nuts are cool enough to handle, 5 to 7 minutes.

  4. Assemble the Derby Cake: Spread frosting evenly over the cooled cake, and sprinkle evenly with candied walnuts. Place the chocolate chips in a glass measuring cup, and microwave on HIGH in 15-second intervals until melted and smooth. Let stand until cool but still pourable, about 5 minutes. Transfer melted chocolate to a piping bag, and pipe in a decorative pattern over top of cake.


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