Like the Golden Sheet Cakes, you will need to make one recipe (that is, two chocolate cakes) for each of the animal cakes.
Photography: Johnny Miller
Source: Martha Stewart Living, May 2012
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Yield Makes two 9-by-13-inch cakes
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 cups warm water
6 tablespoons safflower oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-by-13-inch baking pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving an overhang on long sides. Spray parchment. Flour pans, tapping out excess.
Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla until smooth. Divide batter between pans. Bake, rotating halfway through, until tops of cakes spring back when pressed and a toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely, then lift cakes from pans using parchment. Remove parchment.
Cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature 1 day or refrigerated 2 days.