Thursday, January 31, 2013

Million layer cake

What would you think if I were to show you this cake...

... or this cake?

For those who aren't standing there with their mouths open, saliva slowly dripping down their face, I can imagine people saying things like:
"Daaaaaamn, that looks good!"
"Holy cow! You are one amazing woman!"
"Make me some. Now. Pretty please?"
Sure- they look amazing. But what if I were to tell you that their insides were even more amazing??

Million layer cake

BOOM! Mind. Blown.

OK, this isn't a million layer cake. But 14 layers for a cake may as well be a million, right??

I first made this cake a few months ago and took leftovers into work. After tasting a slice a coworker asked me if I'd made it for her daughter's upcoming 2nd birthday party. She would have been happy with a plain cake, but it didn't take me long to whip together a simple name plate and whimsical fondant flower. From simple to spectacular!

It's the little touches that make it extra special, no?

Much like the layers in these cakes.

It literally doesn't take that much longer to bake and assemble a 14-layer cake as it does a regular from-scratch cake. But somehow, the slight extra time creates a special, one-of-a-kind, show-stopper of a cake. Little touches I tell ya.

Wanna see how this all comes together??

First, you've got to bake your cake layers. I like disposable (and reusable) aluminum cake pans so you can bake all 14 layers in about an hour. The great thing is that each of the layers bake up in less than 15 minutes (plus you can do 3 or 6 at a time), and they cool down in a jiffy.

If you take cake cooling into account, this 14-layer cake might even take 
less time to assemble than a regular cake. Huzzah!

Then, you start stacking the layers, one at a time. Easy peasy. If you can stack pancakes you can make this cake. In between the cake: a deliciously sweet chocolate sauce.

It's a bit messy so use a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet to catch all the drips.
(Also, I love playing around with Lightroom!)

After that, use the rest of your chocolate sauce to frost the entire cake. It won't be very beautiful. No worries.

To cover up all these crazy layers, I used a chocolate cream cheese frosting. Probably the best chocolate frosting I've ever made (and the easiest). A simple rosette using a star tip (or a ruffle up the sides like I made in the birthday cake above) is a great way to frost this slightly uneven cake into a perfect domed dessert.

Obviously you don't have to frost the cake- but I like hiding all these cake layers under a blanket of frosting. That way when you cut into it, it's magical!

Yours in always looking for new ways to add WOW factor to my baking and cooking creations,

Smith Island 14-layer cake, slightly adapted from

The original recipe called for wayyyyy too much sugar for the chocolate sauce (it was cloyingly sweet in my opinion). I cut it down to 2 cups the second time I baked the cake, and I think it could even be further reduced since you're using so much chocolate sauce in the cake. 

If you're not a giant chocolate fan, I think this cake would work great with a lot of different flavors. How about a raspberry sauce in between the layers? Or lemon curd instead?? It's a fun cake to play around with to find what works best for you.

Hot Tip: Buy inexpensive aluminum foil cake pans at the grocery/ dollar store store (they can be saved for another time as well), you will be able to knock out layers in no time. 

For the cake
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter , at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the chocolate sauce
2 cups sugar (or even less, to taste)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut up
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375°. Lightly butter four 8 1/2- to 9-inch cake pans (you will bake the cakes in three batches) or disposable aluminum pans and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Spray with baking spray (or flour the pans and tap out the excess.) 
  2. To make the cake batter: sift together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and be sure the mixture is well-blended. 
  4. On low speed, add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla. 
  5. Using a scant cup for each layer (for 12 layers) or 3/4 cup for each layer (for 14 layers), spread the batter evenly in the pans using an offset spatula. It will make a thin layer- this is normal.
  6. Stagger the pans on the racks so they are at least 2 inches from each other and the sides of the oven and not directly over each other, bake the layers until they feel firm when pressed in the centers and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 12+ minutes. 
  7. Cool the pans for 5 minutes. Then invert the layers onto cake racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely. 
  8. Repeat the procedure until all 12 layers have been baked and cooled. (If you are not using disposable pans, make sure to wash and re-prep the cake pans.)
  9. While the cakes are baking, make the chocolate filling. Bring the sugar, cocoa, butter and evaporated milk to a full boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the icing has thickened slightly (it will resemble chocolate syrup but will thicken as it cools), about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Let the icing cool until thick enough to spread, but still pourable. (This will take a little while, so it helps to pop your pan in the fridge and stir the mixture periodically to cool it. By the time you're done with your layers the chocolate filling should be about done as well.)
  10. Next, assemble your cake. Place your first layer of cake on a 9" cardboard round, and place that on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Spread your first cake layer with 1/4 cup of the chocolate sauce, letting the excess run down the sides. Stack the remaining cakes, icing each layer. Pour the remaining icing over the top of the cake. If you wish, smooth the icing on the edges to cover the sides. Let stand until the glaze sets. Once it has set enough, cover with your frosting of choice. I like the dark chocolate cream cheese frosting (below) to offset the sweetness of this cake.
Chocolate cream cheese frosting, adapted from Bakerella

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa)
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted (more or less to taste)
1 tsp vanilla
1-3 Tbsp milk

  1. Cream the butter and cream cheese with a mixer. Add the cocoa and vanilla.
  2. Add the confectioner’s sugar in small batches and blend on low until combined. Scrape down sides with each addition. Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until you get the consistency you desire.


Anonymous said...

This is amazing! You are a genius!

Post a Comment