Note that I am not paid to endorse any products, I’m just telling you what works well for me.
This is actually two regular-sized double layer cakes. You can arrange them as two cakes, or (if you want something spectacular), you can arrange it as a four-layer cake. This recipe feeds a LOT of people!
I use one package of Betty Crocker (Super Moist) “Spice” cake mix and one package of Betty Crocker (Super Moist) “Chocolate Fudge” cake mix. I also use off-the-shelf (Pillsbury’s Chocolate Fudge, sometimes the ‘funfetti confetti’ kind of) frosting. The combination of spice and chocolate fudge flavors in this cake is absolutely delightful.
If you aren’t able to find these, try using the same style of cake mixes from the same cake mix manufacturer, just be sure to use “spice” (or “spice cake”) and “chocolate fudge” if you can get them. Devil’s Food cakes don’t work as well here, and regular chocolate cake somehow misses the mark.
The Spice cake directions call for a cup of water, a half cup of vegetable oil and three eggs. The Chocolate Fudge cake directions call for a cup and a quarter of water, a half cup of oil and three eggs. Make sure that you use the correct amount of water for each batch of cake batter; if you get the quantities backwards, things will get a little awkward. Don’t ask me how I know.
In addition, you will need a mixing bowl, mixer/egg beater, measuring cup, spatula, cake pans and (4) cake cooling racks.
I start the oven heating after I’ve got all of the ingredients and utensils arranged.
The mix box says to grease the bottoms and sides of the cake pans. I use unsalted butter (try to not leave any unbuttered gaps!)… then I coat the butter with flour (white or wheat doesn’t matter); I usually drop a heaping tablespoon of flour into one pan, spread it and shake it around and hold it over the other pan when I’m tilting the pans to coat the sides. The surplus flour eventually gets discarded.
Mix the powder, water, oil and eggs as directed, then pour equal amounts of the mix into the cake pans. Set the pans to cook on a middle rack. Set the timer according to the directions on the box. While you are waiting for the cakes to cook, it’s a good time to wash up… wash the mixing bowl, spatula, mixing beaters, etc.
When the cakes have cooked, set them to cool, then remove from the cooking pans, as per the directions on the box. I don’t normally leave the oven on while I’m at this point in between cooking stages. I usually have to wash the cake pans before the second half of this project. Once the pans have been washed, they need to be dried and buttered again… and again dusted with flour. Set the pans aside for later.
As with the first, so with the second. Once again, mix the powder, water, oil and eggs as directed, then pour equal amounts of the mix into the cake pans. Set the pans to cook on a middle rack. Set the timer according to the directions on the box. While you are waiting for the cakes to cook, it’s a good time to wash up… wash the mixing bowl, spatula, mixing beaters, etc.
When the cakes have cooked, set them to cool, then remove from the cooking pans, as per the directions on the box.
Once all layers of the cake have cooled, it’s time to start assembling the cake. If the layers haven’t completely cooled, the cake may slide side-to-side until the frosting cools and sets.
So you have to make a choice: do you want one four-layer cake, or do you want two two-layer cakes? The four-layer cake presents some problems, but as I said above, it is spectacular. For two two-layer cakes, use one layer of chocolate fudge for the base and one layer of spice cake for the upper layer in each cake. For a four-layer cake, alternate layers (chocolate, spice, chocolate, spice) as you stack them up.
One of the problems with a four-layer cake is that the layers aren’t usually flat on the top. For this reason, I usually turn the first two layers upside down. It helps a little to make the interlayer frosting thicker at the outer edges. For two two-layer cakes, I only invert the lower layer. If you feel you must, you might slice a thin layer of the top of the two upper layers, in order to try and make it less curved; don’t slice off the entire top, just take off the middle 2/3 or so.
As you begin to stack the layers, be sure to brush any loose crumbs off each layer, otherwise it may interfere with frosting the cake.
Arrange and frost the cakes as desired. Add “Happy Birthday” in icing if you want (or whatever else might be appropriate).
If you have to transport a four-layer cake, it’s worthwhile to chill the cake in the refrigerator or freezer beforehand. It helps a lot if the frosting has all completely set.
When serving, cut thin slices. It’s ok to serve someone a second slice if they really can eat it, but all too often with this cake, peoples’ eyes are bigger than their stomachs.
Add a small scoop of ice cream if desired.
Make sure there is milk available!
An amusing anecdote: I once made a four-layer version of this and hauled it about thirty miles to my wife’s birthday dinner, which was at a restaurant that year. I checked with the management before bringing the desert in, and they said it was ok. Come desert time, the waitress brought us desert plates, but they weren’t big enough to hold a slice; she went back and got us some appetizer plates. When the family was done eating desert, there was a LOT of cake left over, so I offered a slice of it to the waitress, who readily accepted. I saw her again about two minutes later and mentioned something about the cake needing milk, and she said “Too late, it’s already gone!” She had grabbed a handful of silverware and yelled at the other servers “ANYBODY THAT WANTS SOME, GET OVER HERE!” Like the old movie, it was ‘gone in sixty seconds’.
Copyright © 2015 by Kurt A. Schultz
Permission granted for personal use, right to publish retained.