Coat a 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set aside.
Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add to flour mixture. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.
Combine 6 tablespoons butter, fat-free milk, and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla. Spread over hot cake. Sprinkle cake with pecans. Cool completely on wire rack.
This recipe was tested again for Cooking Light, Lighten Up America! and was baked in a 15 x 10-inch jellyroll pan at 375° for 17 minutes.
The soda and the sugar are mentioned when it says " Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl" . That includes the sugar and the soda. This means add the flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, and the salt. Usually all cakes will tell you to mix the dry ingredients together first. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry as the recipe instructs. Try it again and I bet you will love it. It is one of the best cakes I have ever made. I hope this helps. :)
This is the exact recipe I have used in the past to make a coca-cola cake except that it used water in the cake batter (when cooking on the stove) and milk in the icing batter. For a coca-cola cake, you'd substitute coke both those places and it makes it oh that much better. Its not lighter but this cake isn't very light to begin with. I did cut back on the sugar about 1/4 cup and I think next time I'll go even to 1/2 cup. Its a fantastic cake!
My family loved this cake - they couldnt even wait for it to cool completely before eating some and having seconds. I really enjoyed the fudge-like frosting and how it 'soaks' into the warm cake. Would be interested to try this in a jelly roll pan to get the higher fudge to cake ratio as one reviewer mentioned.
A tip - make sure you fluff your powdered sugar before measuring it out, You could easily add too much if it is packed down.
I love this cake! It comes out perfect every time. Those of you that don't understand the directions and make it anyway can't complain. Ask questions and get clarifications before wasting your time and money. Always read the directions completely before starting to make sure you have all the ingredients and understand the recipe process. The directions with this cake couldn't be more explanatory if they tried.
Ok, so I followed the recipe exactly, and once the cake was in the oven, I noticed that the baking soda and granulated sugar had not been mentioned anywhere in the directions. The cake came out tasting disgusting. I understand bakers with experience might have intuitively known when to add those basic ingredients, but for us novices, this turns me off completely from baking. Please don't write directions for a recipe if you can not make them clear and thorough.