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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

14 Layer Chocolate Cake

A 14 Layer Chocolate Cake has been a part of Christmas at my parent's house for a very long time.  For many years, I would go in search of a tiny layer chocolate cake that was usually baked by a little old lady who made the layers in an iron skillet and cooked the icing on her stove top in a double boiler.  This was at the request of my daddy.  Some years the chocolate cake was better than others.  A number of years ago, one of our Clinic nurses, Mona, mentioned that her Nanny was going to bake Chocolate Cakes to sell for Christmas.  I told her that I would like to order one and had no idea that I would be getting the best Chocolate Cake that I had ever had.  I asked Mona if her Nanny, Mrs. Ada Alma Strickland, would share her recipe and she said yes. 

Let me tell you the secrets that I have learned.  I always cook the icing first.  I cook it in a metal mixing bowl.  When I could not find a large double boiler, it was suggested to me while I was shopping at Kitchen on the Square in Savannah to buy the metal mixing bowl and make my own double boiler.  When it is finished cooking, I put the mixing bowl on top of a deep large boiler that I have ready with boiling water in it.  The top of the mixing bowl will fit evenly with the top of the large boiler and the bottom of the mixing bowl rests above the boiling water.  This is how the metal mixing bowl becomes a double boiler.  The icing will not continue to cook but will stay hot and will be ready for the cake layers when they come out of the oven.  You need very good cake pans, so that your layers will cook evenly.  I always cook my layers in 8 in. pans.  I bake 4 layers at a time.  For me, it took cooking the cake several times before I became comfortable with it.  I spoon 3 heaping Tbsp. of batter into the cake pans that I have sprayed with Pam Spray and spread thinly.  When I remove the cake pans from the oven, I immediately turn them over onto a dish towel, tap the cake pan, and the layer falls out of the pan onto the dish towel.  The cake layer may not always turn out perfectly and that's okay.  You can still stack it, even if it's in several pieces, and then spoon icing on it.  When the cake is sliced, you will never know that a layer was not perfect.  The number of layers is not always the same.  Sometimes, my cake will stack straight and sometimes it's crooked but it always tastes good!

                                                          14 Layer Chocolate Cake

1 cup Crisco Shortening
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
3 cups Martha White self-rising flour, sifted
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Cream shortening and sugar.  Add one ingredient at a time and beat after each addition until all has been added.  Place 3 heaping Tbsp. of batter into 8 in. pans that have been sprayed with Pam Spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 min.  Stack layers and add chocolate icing while hot.

Chocolate Icing

3 sticks plus 2 Tbsp. of butter
2 - 12 oz. cans of Pet Milk
4 1/2 cups of sugar
13 1/2 Tbsp. of Hershey's Cocoa

Melt butter.  Add Pet Milk, sugar, and Hershey's Cocoa.  Cook over medium/low heat until it comes to a boil, stirring often.  Continue to cook for 7 min. or until desired consistency.  It will thicken slightly.

Place icing in a double boiler.  It will remain hot while you bake the cake layers  and place icing on cake layers.

I use a soup ladle to pour the icing on the cake layer.  I usually put two soup ladles of icing on the layer and then use a tsp. to spread the icing.


  1. I love your recipe, I grew up on 14 layer chocolate cake My Grandmother made me one very year for my birthday until I joined the Navy 18 years ago. I called her after I made the my first cake and told her how much I really appreciated all the cakes that she had baked for me over the years. The only thing that I changed is on the second cake I baked it at 450 for 3 minutes (per family recipe). I like my cakes a little heavy. I found that laying a piece of wax paper in the pan spraying it with pam and leaving it square so I can grab the corners and pick up the cake. If the cake does stick a little you can pull the wax paper off of the cake without tearing it.

  2. Can you confirm that the icing calls for 13 1/2 TBSP of cocoa?