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Chocolate Little Layer Cake

4.71 from 137 votes

Part cake and part confection, this heritage recipe for Chocolate Little Layer Cake is made by home cooks throughout southwest Georgia. The cake consists of tiny yellow layers baked individually then filled and topped with old fashioned boiled chocolate icing.

I really love the way technology connects us. It makes it possible for us to share special recipes like this Chocolate Little Layer Cake beyond our closest circle of friends and family. What we used to do through cards and letters, newspaper and magazine clippings, or simply by word of mouth, we can now accomplish within seconds.

A slice of cake held on a spatula.

Just a quick internet search and virtually any recipe ever thought of appears on your screen. I’m even more grateful that technology is helping us to preserve our old heritage recipes like this beautiful little layer cake.

📋 A Heritage Recipe

These beautiful multi-layer cakes have, for as long as I can remember, always been a part of family reunions, church dinners, and most holidays in the southwest corner of Georgia where I grew up. You might think at first glance that they’re standard cake layers that have been split and filled, but they’re not. Not at all. Each little thin layer is baked separately.

To make it even more different from traditional layer cakes, it’s iced with warm boiled chocolate icing while the layers themselves are still warm. Totally goes against the conventional method, doesn’t it?

Years ago, Kim Severson of the New York Times did a story on these little layer cakes. I had the pleasure of hearing Kim speak once at a food blogging conference. She’s a very accomplished food writer and has received numerous accolades, including several James Beard Awards.

In her NYT story, she talked about how the cakes were made only in one area in Alabama and on Smith Island near Maryland. Well, I can assure you that they are part of the fabric of at least one small southwest Georgia town as well :-)

In the small town where I grew up, lots of ladies make these cakes for a little extra income on the side. They come in two versions – chocolate or caramel. Some of them make a fairly brisk business of it, especially around Christmas.

Way back when, the thin layers for these cakes were made by cooking each layer in a hoecake pan or iron skillet on top of the stove, but now most everyone cooks the layers in the oven. It just goes faster when you can bake three or four layers at one time, you see.

If you’re really experienced with little layer cakes, you can get as many as fourteen layers from your batter. I usually get a ten layer cake. I need to practice more. If you’ve never made this cake before, aim for about seven layers your first time and gradually increase as you improve your technique.

Finished cake on a pedestal.

😎 A Modernized Recipe For You

The original recipe that I have for little layer cakes is so typical of old-time recipes. It assumes that the cook pretty much knows what to do, and only the bare essentials are given.

For instance, the instructions for making the batter read, “Mix well. Grease 8″ pans with Crisco. Put 2 large cooking spoonfuls in each pan. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes.” That’s it.

And the instructions for the boiled icing are “Place over low heat until all is dissolved. Do not boil. Be sure all sugar is melted.” Well, alrighty then!

In the recipe below, I’ve tried to re-write and modernize the instructions a bit for you.

❤️ Why I Love This Recipe

  • The delicious and unique boiled chocolate icing.
  • Tastes great and is easy to make once you get the idea.
  • It’s a very old, sentimental part of southern foodways.

🛒 Ingredient Notes

All ingredients needed to make chocolate little layer cake.

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  • Granulated Sugar – This is just plain old white sugar. We tend to use Dixie Crystals in the south.
  • Baking Chocolate – It’s really important to use the right kind of chocolate for this recipe. You’ll need to purchase Baker’s Premium Unsweetened Baking Chocolate, which produces the distinctive look, texture, and taste required for this recipe.
  • Evaporated Milk – Be sure you’re buying evaporated milk NOT sweetened condensed milk.
  • Butter – Like most old-fashioned southern cooks, I use salted butter in everything, including this recipe. I can’t remember the last time I purchased unsalted butter.
  • Vanilla Extract – Use a quality extract such as McCormick’s.
  • Eggs – The fresher, the better.
  • Self-Rising Flour – Southerners love our White Lily flour for any type of baking. It’s made from soft winter wheat and produces very tender baked goods.

The complete ingredient list with detailed measurements is included in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

🥄 How I Make Chocolate Little Layer Cake

Prep the Pans and Ingredients

Prepped baking pans ready for cooking.
  1. Before starting your baking, make sure to have all the ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and go ahead and prep several 8-inch cake pans with shortening and set them aside.

👉 PRO TIP: How many layers you bake at once depends on how many pans you have and can fit into your oven without them touching. Some people use disposable cake pans for this, but I don’t see the need. I just wipe the pans out and re-grease between each set of layers.

Make the Icing

Unlike other cakes, you actually start your little layer cake by making the icing first.

Icing ingredients in a saucepan.
  1. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat. The heat should be barely medium-low. If in doubt, go lower.
  2. Add the sugar, baking chocolate, evaporated milk, butter, and vanilla all at once. Cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring occasionally. It is important that the icing does not boil and that you make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved so that no grainy texture remains.

Make the Batter

  1. Meanwhile, make the batter. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs all at once and beat until well incorporated. Add the flour and water alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Mix in the vanilla.

👉 PRO TIP: The batter will appear to be curdled after each addition of water – this is normal.

Bake the Layers

Batter poured into a prepared cake pan.
  1. Pour approximately 3/4 cup batter into each prepared pan. Smooth the batter to the edges.
  2. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until the layers are barely golden on top. Remove from the oven and turn out onto cooling racks.
  3. Clean the pans, grease them, and repeat baking.
  4. When the second set of layers goes into the oven, begin icing the first set.

Frost the Layers While Warm

  1. Place a still-warm layer on a cardboard round set on a cooling rack inside a baking sheet. Spread 1/4 cup of icing on the layer, smoothing it gently to the edges. Top with the next layer and repeat.

👉 PRO TIP: Note that the icing will be thin and fairly runny. It will drip down the sides of the layers. This is to be expected. Any excess icing should be scraped up and returned to the pan and all of it used in icing the cake. This is why I strongly recommend doing the icing of the cake on a cooling rack set inside a baking pan.

  1. When all the layers have been stacked and iced, spread the remaining icing over the top and sides of the cake. If the icing becomes thick, return the pan to very low heat until it returns to spreading consistency.
  2. Smooth the icing around the sides of the cake, but realize that the contours are supposed to be visible on the outside of the cake.
The sliced cake showing all the layers.

🔀 Variations

  • Many cooks around my hometown also make this cake with a caramel icing. I don’t have the original caramel icing recipe, but the version I use for my Southern Caramel Layer Cake should work well.
  • I’ve also seen commercial versions of the little layer cake done in coconut, red velvet, and even lemon. I prefer the chocolate and caramel versions.

🍽️ What to Serve With Chocolate Little Layer Cake

This cake is the perfect dessert for practically any occasion. I’ve served this for Sunday night family dinner, birthday parties, family reunions, and even bridal showers. It’s the perfect ending to a traditional southern meal of country fried steak, old fashioned green beans, fried okra, cornbread, and a fresh cucumber salad!

🍚 Storage

Store the cake in a covered container at room temperature for three or four days.

This cake freezes very well. To freeze, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Place the wrapped cake in a freezer container and freeze for up to three months. Allow the frozen cake to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Servings of sliced cake on individual plates.

❓ Questions About Chocolate Little Layer Cake

My icing is runny and I can’t spread it on the cake! Help!

As mentioned in the post, this icing is really thin and runny. It’s not the consistency that you usually think of for icing. The way I handle it is by placing a wire cooling rack inside a baking sheet and setting my layers on that to start. As I add icing, it drips off into the baking sheet. Keep scraping it up and adding it back to the pan. You’ll eventually use all the icing.

My icing is grainy! What did I do wrong?

There are a few reasons that the icing can turn out grainy. A few tips are to make sure you have all the ingredients at room temperature before you start and to make sure all the sugar is completely dissolved.

I’m having trouble keeping my cake layers from sliding. What can I do?

The best way I’ve found to keep the layers from shifting is to insert two or three very thin bamboo skewers when you get about halfway up the stack. Keep layering and frosting, and cut your skewers off before you put the last layer on so they don’t show on the outside.

Lana Stuart.

Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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A slice of cake held on a spatula.

Chocolate Little Layer Cake

This southern heritage Chocolate Little Layer Cake consists of tiny layers baked individually and topped with boiled chocolate icing.
4.71 from 137 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Desserts
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 24 servings
Calories: 366kcal
Author: Lana Stuart


  • Solid shortening for greasing pans

For the icing:

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 ½ ounces unsweetened baking chocolate see notes
  • 10 ounces evaporated milk
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the layers:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 ½ cups self-rising flour sifted
  • 1 ¾ cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease 8” cake pans with shortening and set aside.
  • Make the icing first. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium-low heat.
  • Add the sugar, baking chocolate, evaporated milk, butter, and vanilla all at once. Cook until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring frequently. Do not boil. It is important to make sure that the sugar is completely dissolved and no grainy texture remains.
  • Meanwhile, make the batter. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs all at once and beat until well incorporated. Add the flour and water alternately, beginning and ending with flour. (Note: the batter will appear to be curdled after each addition of water – this is normal.) Mix in the vanilla.
  • Pour approximately 3/4 cup batter into each prepared pan. Smooth the batter to the edges.
  • Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until layers are barely golden on top. Remove from oven and turn out onto cooling racks.
  • Clean the pans, grease them and repeat baking.
  • When second set of layers goes into the oven, begin icing the cake.
  • Place a still-warm layer on a cardboard round set atop a cooling rack inside a baking sheet. Spread 1/4 cup icing on the layer spreading it gently to the edges. Top with the next layer and repeat.
  • When all layers have been stacked and iced, spread remaining icing over top and sides of the cake. If the icing becomes thick, return the pan to very low heat until it returns to spreading consistency.
  • Smooth the icing around the sides of the cake, but realize that the contours are supposed to be visible on the outside of the cake.


  • The specific type of chocolate traditionally used for this recipe is Baker’s Premium Unsweetened Baking Chocolate. This chocolate produces the distinctive look, texture, and taste of this recipe.
  • Store your cake in a covered container at room temperature for three or four days.
  • To freeze, wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil. Place the wrapped cake in a freezer container and freeze for up to three months. Allow the frozen cake to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before serving.

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 366kcal | Carbohydrates 53g | Protein 5g | Fat 16g | Saturated Fat 10g | Cholesterol 75mg | Sodium 132mg | Potassium 106mg | Fiber 1g | Sugar 39g | Vitamin A 442IU | Vitamin C 1mg | Calcium 48mg | Iron 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on April 24, 2012. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

Completed Chocolate Little Layer Cake on a cake stand.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Brenda Reeves says:

    Will humidity affect the consistency of the icing?

    1. High humidity can affect any cake icing. It can cause the icing to take longer to dry and set up.

  2. how many layers can I get from this recipe? I need 15 layers

    1. As I explained in the post, the number of layers depends on how thin you pour the batter. I usually get ten layers but some people can up to about 14.

      1. Yeah I read that after I sent the question. Thank you for responding back.

      2. 5 stars
        Thank you so much for the recipe! my grandma made this and left me her recipe. I was unsuccessful with the bare instructions she gave so I am really grateful for your modernized one. my cakes came out a little rubbery, do you have any suggestions for what I may have done wrong? My cakes pans are nonstick, I wonder if I should adjust the baking directions because of that.

        1. I’m glad I could help you with a more modern interpretation of the recipe! As to rubbery cake layers — that’s usually a result of overmixing the batter.

  3. Patricia Lockamy says:

    5 stars
    Can you substitute buttermilk for the water in the batter ? It turned out perfectly, just love buttermilk in cakes and wanted to try.

    1. I’ve never tried this recipe with buttermilk. My intuition is that it might make the layers too tender and they’d have more tendency to fall apart. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes.

      1. Patricia Lockamy says:

        5 stars
        I did 3/4 cup buttermilk and 1 cup milk. It was tender and it didn’t crumble. It had the taste I enjoy. It was for a family reunion and I got rave reviews. I might try with all buttermilk when it’s not a special occasion. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  4. is the icing supposed to be thin and runny?

    1. Well, in the post I did say this — “👉 PRO TIP: Note that the icing will be thin and fairly runny. It will drip down the sides of the layers. This is to be expected. Any excess icing should be scraped up and returned to the pan and all of it used in icing the cake. This is why I strongly recommend doing the icing of the cake on a cooling rack set inside a baking pan.”

  5. Angie Harris says:

    All I have is 9 inch pans. How much batter would I put in each pan?

  6. Katie Edmonson says:

    Do you have a recipe for a caramel icing to use with the little layer cake? I’ve struggled to make a little layer caramel cake! Thanks!

    1. There is a specific caramel icing that is used for the little layer cakes, but I don’t have that recipe. I’ll try to remember to ask someone that I know who makes them next time I’m back home.

  7. I’m so glad to see this recipe! My aunt (in southeast GA :) ) made this cake many times, and it was always a hit and one of my all-time favorite desserts!!
    I will be making this and definitely sharing this wonderful treat to bring back fond family memories!! Thank you!!

  8. OMG I love this recipe and thank you for it. I made it yesterday and this is to me a true old fashion cake. Most cakes now a days have so many ingredients that’s its crazy and yours has just the right amount. I didn’t have the Bakers chocolate or the self rising flour on hand but I had some off brand chocolate and added salt and baking powder to the apf and it was still good. Thanks again! 😊

  9. Felicia Scurlock says:

    5 stars
    Made this recipe exactly how you said. It turned out perfect! It wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be.

    1. That’s so great to know, Felicia! Once you give it a try, you see how simple it is.

  10. 3 stars
    The sugar will not dissolve completely. Coud I use powdered sugar instead?

    1. I don’t have any experience with substituting powdered sugar in this recipe.

  11. Linda Gutierrez says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is very similar to one that my Venezuelan mother-in-law always made for my husband’s birthdays. Thank you.

  12. C. Burris says:

    Thanks for the recipe. I will be trying it this weekend for my son’s 16th birthday. These cakes are made in North Carolina as well and my grandmother made them regularly before she died. He has requested the “the cake that grandma made.”

  13. Anastasia K says:

    My icing… the sugar never fully dissolved 🥺 I sat there playing with the temp and never would get to where I needed it. It is 3c sugar in the icing and 1.5 for the cake… or is it the opposite?
    Thank you!

  14. This cake is also popular in Southeast Georgia. Thank you for sharing the recipe. My grandma used yellow cake mix, but she made the boiled frosting from scratch. I can’t wait to try it!

    Instead of greasing the pans, my grandma always used parchment paper. She would use the cake pans to trace a pattern. She cut out a stack of parchment paper circles before starting on the icing. Then she put a circle of parchment in the bottom of each pan before baking the layers. It made it easy to flip the cake layers out and just peel off the paper.

  15. This cake is also very popular in the Florida panhandle – which is practically lower Alabama! I have a few aunts that make these and bring them to the family reunion. They are like a family tradition.

  16. I lived in Iron City Ga and this cake was made very well by one of the town’s senior lady and my Mom had one made for us every time we came over. Thank you for sharing.

  17. Vickey Vaughan says:

    I grew up in Middle Georgia and this cake was always at church dinners,family reunions and Sundays when the preacher came to eat dinner with us. This cake is delicious-one you can savor while you eat and forget about calories and carbs.

    Thank you for making the recipe easier and I can’t wait to make it for my family.

  18. I’m from South Carolina and my grandma and mama made this cake all the time. We use cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate

  19. KAY WATFORD says:

    5 stars
    My mom was from Jacksonville, Fla but and made this cake often. We lived in the the Atlanta area and in Dublin.

  20. Greg Coats says:

    My icing is more liquid than I think it should be. It pours on rather than spreads. What am i doing wrong . It’s the 14 layer cake

    1. This is a very runny icing. It doesn’t spread like a conventional icing. You have to keep pouring it back over the cake as I mentioned in the post.

  21. 5 stars
    Hi, I’m from Southeastern NC, and this type of cake has been made my by grandmother’s family for generations. She made it slightly different, but the idea is still the same. A few years ago I tried to make this cake. I didn’t have her exact recipe, but it turned out very close to the way hers always did. The number of layers always depended on how she was feeling, and the reason for the cake. She could get up to 19 layers!

    1. I also am from the southeastern part of North Carolina.
      My mother use to bake this thin layer cake every Christmas.
      It is one of my most fond memories of the holidays.
      Great recipe.

  22. Shanna Enfinger says:

    Hey Miss Lana! Laura used to be my good friend, and I spent the night with you several times growing up! How neat that I found you by this cake recipe! My daughter (age 13) has made a little business selling old fashioned 14 layer chocolate cakes like this, and I was online trying to find tips for keeping the layers from sliding around during the icing process. Do you have any tips?

    1. Hi Shanna! Good to hear from you!! I think it’s great that your daughter is making a business out of these little layer cakes. They’ve always been a big part of the foodways in south Georgia.

      About keeping the layers from shifting — the best way I’ve found is to insert two or three very thin bamboo skewers when you get about half way up the stack. Keep layering and frosting and cut your skewers off before you put the last layer on so they don’t show on the outside.

      Hope that helps!

  23. This cake is a staple of church gatherings & town meetings in our little hometown of Pelion, SC. There are few and far between who can really master this delicious cake. Thank you for sharing your version & tips to go along with it.

  24. My great aunt made this cake but her recipe is A little different. For one thing she used buttermilk instead of water. Her daughter upgraded her recipe. I have used both. We live in NC.

    1. Donna F Anderson says:

      Do you have the recipe for the caramel version of this cake?

  25. We live in the Central Savannah River Area of Georgia, and these cakes are very popular. There is also a lemon version we call lemon cheese, even though there is no cheese in it!

    1. I make the Lemon Cheese Cake, too Amanda, but not with the little layers. It’s delicious!

    2. I’m going to try this recipe. I grew up in Albany, GA and my grandmother would make this frequently. I live in Iowa now, but last summer I visited family in Alabama, and we had this! It’s one of my favorite cakes!!

      1. I lived in Albany for 22 years – grew up in a little town just south of there. Small world!

      2. I’ve made 18 thin layer chocolate cakes for years. I’m right beside you guys in Sylvester GA born, raised and growing old.😀

  26. I’m from Southeast Louisiana and have been making this cake for 20+ years. In my family, the 14 LAYER cake originates from my granny in North Alabama :)

    1. Yes, it’s pretty much all throughout the southeastern states. Everybody knows and loves little layer cakes!

  27. I was just googling an alternate icing recipe for my little layer cake because mine calls for cocoa powder and I’m out. To answer your question about the origins of the cake, this cake was a staple of my childhood! Little old ladies would make it and bring it to cover-dish meals. I lived all over the eastern half of North Carolina, and this cake turned up wherever I lived. Definitely not just a small part of GA!

    1. Yes, they’re available all over my home area, too. And always delicious!!

  28. We lived in Statesboro, GA for several years and these cakes were a staple! I wish I could find a caramel recipe as well!

    1. Donna F Anderson says:

      Do you have the recipe for the caramel version of this cake?

      1. Hi Donna. You’d use the same recipe for the layers and your favorite caramel icing recipe.

  29. Shirley Shipman says:

    4 stars
    I made my first 14 layer cake today. It turned out so pretty. The recipe was close to mine but I used whole milk instead of water. I found that Bakers Joy is a handy spray for this cake. I cool the cake for a minute then flip the cake on my hand and then I place on stack and ice. This is not a difficult cake to do. Just need patience.

    1. 5 stars
      I’m glad to know your cake turned out pretty, Shirley! As you said, it just takes patience.

  30. Just after i married my husband 26 years ago, his Nana decided to turn this recipe over to me. She taught me this cake wigh a few differences. I have made it for every christmas since. They are from the Columbus, GA area.

  31. Sheryl Rodgers says:

    4 stars
    The cake is delicious and have made it numerous times. I have question about the icing. Sometimes it will become ‘crinchy’. The recipe I use calls for boiling the icing for 2 minutes whereas your recipe says not to let it boil. Would boiling cause the icing to be grainy?
    Sheryl in SC

    1. Lots of things can make an icing grainy. It’s hard to say what happened without being there, but some tips are to make sure you have all your ingredients at room temperature before you start and to make sure all the sugar is completely dissolved.

  32. 5 stars
    Thomas County Ga area and this is a staple along with Milky Way pound cake at all of our family holidays for as long as I can remember! Our great grandmother(I’m sure her mother and grandmother were but I wasn’t alive for that) started making it and now the great grand daughters take turns each year!! Carmel cakes are also VERY popular during the holidays here!

    1. I don’t think we could have Christmas without this cake and a caramel cake, too!

      1. Vickey Peel says:

        5 stars
        My grandmother taught us to make this cake and we have it for most holidays. She also made a Lane Cake every Christmas, which was my Grandfathers favorite. His birthday was Christmas Day, so that was his request for his birthday. I never mastered the Lane Cake. We live in the Florida Panhandle.

  33. 5 stars
    I grew up in Robeson County in North Carolina and this was a Christmas staple.

  34. Leah Faison says:

    I’ m in the Dothan, Alabama area and this type of cake is a much-prized thing in the Wiregrass area of southeast Alabama, southwest Georgia and northwest Florida. I plan to master this technique for the holidays this year. This type of cake is a treasured part of our heritage. I’m also going to try this technique with “lemon cheese” filling 😋

    1. I’m from the same area as you, Leah – southwest Georgia. We always had these cakes in chocolate and caramel. I’ve never tried one with lemon cheese, but I bet it would be delicious!

      1. Cindy Saunders says:

        Lana…. I have made your recipe a couple of times and it turns out perfect every single time. Thank you so much! We are from Dothan and Bonifay 😉 Question for you — one of our grandmothers used to make this cake alternating with peanut butter icing layers. Do you happen to have a variation for that?

        Thanks and happiest of holidays to you! Thank you for sharing the recipe! We are happy to have found it a few years ago!

        1. Wow, Cindy, that sounds delicious! This is the first time I’ve ever heard of it so, unfortunately, I don’t have a recipe for it. If you find one, do let me know!

  35. Lil Andrews says:

    My grandmother always made a 5 layer, however, after a funeral yesterday I had this 7 layer. I was so intrigued and glad to find your ariticle. It was amazing and could certainly tell it was homeade.
    Thanks for the recipe !!! I live in S. Carolina !

  36. Hi! I made this one day in advance. Do I need to fridge it overnight or is an air tight container at room temp okay?

    1. You can safely store it covered in an airtight container at room temperature.

  37. Karen Key says:

    5 stars
    My Grandmother also made this cake quite often. I have never made the cake myself but intend to real soon. She was originally from Alabama but lived in Florida most of her life. I do remember her making an orange cake using the same layers. Thanks for the recipe, it definitely brought back some wonderful memories.

    1. That’s the first time I’ve heard of a little layer orange cake! Very interesting. I’ll bet it’s delicious :-)

      1. I live in a small town in middle Georgia. My Mawmaw always made many 10-14 layer little layer chocolate cakes during the holidays for the family and she also sold the for a little extra money. She made coconut and orange slice too. I’m very fortunate to have cooked in the kitchen with her as a child and now I make them for the family during the holidays. Thank you for sharing!

        1. Brenda Reeves says:

          Are the coconut and orange slice cakes little layer cakes? Could you share the recipes?

          1. Hi. I’m not sure which cakes you’re asking about, but I’ve never seen a little layer cake that was coconut or orange. Only chocolate and caramel.

  38. 5 stars
    I’ve made this cake as a birthday cake a few times from recipes/instructions given by my Atlanta-born husband’s relatives, but never have felt comfortable with the process since I did not grow up with this type of cake in Texas. Thanks to your recipe and detailed instructions, now I can prepare this cake with confidence. Got ten layers and am thrilled! I might even be brave enough to make it more than once a year!
    Once it’s presented for his special day, I’ll post a pic on IG with your #
    Thank you again!!! :D

    1. So glad I could be of help, Cathy! I can’t wait to see the photo of your finished cake :-)

  39. 5 stars
    This sounds really great and fun to try. This seems to make a 10 layer cake so just keep baking with as many 8 inch pans you have? How many were you able to bake at a time?

    1. People who are very experienced at making this recipe can get up to 14 layers from the batter. As you can see in the photo, I got ten on this attempt. You don’t need 10 pans, however, you just wipe the pans out and re-grease between baking each set of layers.

  40. 5 stars
    Words cannot express how excited I am to find this recipe! (And your blog!)
    My Grandmother’s chocolate layer cake was a staple at every family get together, every holiday get together, and every church meal for as long as I can remember! She never measured ingredients and never used a written recipe, but every cake turned out perfectly delicious!! I watched her many times and tried to learn how to make this cake, but could not remember what she added to the Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate! THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post!!
    To reply to your question about location, we are from right outside of Charlotte, NC in Belmont, NC. My grandmother was a native of Belmont. Her thin layer cakes were very well loved and often requested!! She used the same thin layers for her coconut cake, and also a confectioners’ sugar glazed – banana cake!
    Thank you again!!

    1. I’m so happy that I could be of help in restoring an old family recipe for you, Jayne. I’ve found out, too, that this cake is made all over the southeast — Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina — just about everywhere!

  41. Connie Anderson says:

    5 stars
    I made your cake today and it was delicious! My mother-in-law made a cake like this but added pecans in the frosting. I did 7 layers with pecans. It wasn’t as pretty as yours but it we are all enjoying it. I was born and raised in Charleston SC . Thank you!

  42. You asked if this were localized to the Alabama-Georgia line area. The answer is no. I am from the Raleigh, NC area and my grandmother (who was from rural Johnston and Harnett counties in North Carolina) made this cake when I was growing up. I miss it dearly and am exceedingly happy to have found the recipe.


    1. Glad you found the recipe, Craig, and hope you enjoy the cake. Yes, it’s quite widespread throughout the southeast.

  43. Theresa Kitchen says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe. This looks exactly like my Grandma’s “Granny Britt” cake. She was from Goldsboro, NC.

  44. Barbara King says:

    the texture was tough and did not have much flavor. I won’t use this recipe again to make this type of cake.

  45. Hi,
    When I tried to make this cake my layers started to look like a dome. HELP!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      It’s so hard to say what went wrong without being in the kitchen watching how you make the recipe, but my best guess would be that you used too much batter for the individual layers. I’ve never had them turn out any way other than flat or maybe with a very slight rise in the center. If you try again and the same thing happens, maybe try stacking them alternating with the bottom up and the top down every other layer to try to even it out.

  46. Sandra Brown says:

    The seven layer cakes my mother and grandmother before her made were jelly cakes. We live in Kansas and the jelly used is Sand Plum Jelly…..I am 83 and have been making this seven layer jelly cake for my daughter’s birthday for 60 years now.

  47. Merrill Guice says:

    My mother made this. She was originally from Hoboken- Jesup. Strangely enough, a bakery called Cakes, Cakes, Cakes opened in the 80’s next door to the Castle Park Harvey’s and they featured this cake.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      It’s one of the oldest recipes on my blog. The original recipe was just a few lines – no real instructions. I do hope I’ve done it justice in this post.

  48. Lucinda Bailey says:

    My mammo used to make this cake, and I have tried, all of my adult life, to replicate it. I am going to try this recipe, to see if it comes close. It is the icing that gives me trouble. I don’t know if I cook it too long, or not long enough, but I can never get it to come out with the perfect glaze-like consistency that hers had. Thanks for posting this.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Yes, that icing can be tricky! Hope you have good luck with this recipe.

  49. I have a similar recipe. I have milk in the batter. I cook mine in an iron skillet in my oven. It is so good. I’m lucky to have 2 ovens and 4 skillets. So I get 4 cooked at the time.
    The recipe for these cakes are scary. But once you’ve tried it. You’ll hope for excuses to bake this.

  50. Hi Lana! I am originally from southeast Alabama and grew up with both the kinds! Do you happen to know how to make the caramel icing??? I have tried many recipes, and none taste quite right! Thanks!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hi Laurie – No, I don’t have the caramel icing recipe. Sorry!

  51. My Grandmother -1896 birthday- had a hardcover blue cookbook that was published 1898 or 1899, we cannot recall exact year nor who published it. Her mother and her 8 older sisters had really used it. It was coming apart when we cleaned out her home after her death in the 1980s. One of my sisters took the book. There was a recipe for a cake like this, I saw it on her dining table enough to remember it. She entertained mostly women’s groups related to church. When I was 8-9 she told me, “ it’s a lot of trouble”, with her fun smile. She loved to share her big farmhouse for women’s gatherings and was a really good cook and baker, most all food from their farm/ranch. This was all in NORTH TEXAS!

  52. My grandmother made this cake, just seeing yours brings back sweet memories. She was born in 1920 and grew up in Baker County, GA but lived in Albany, GA as an adult. She didn’t split the layers like some do but made them thin like yours.

  53. Kristina Gregory says:

    My grandma who raised me grew up making this cake religiously. I now make it as well:) She grew up deep in the Florida panhandle. It was a normal thing for people to make for funerals, birthdays, Christmas, whenever. There is a trick with this cake that she always told me..it can’t be rainy or looking like rain that day..the icing won’t set right;) It’ll taste good always though;))

  54. Vicki Anckner says:

    My Grandmother & her sisters and my Greatgrandmother all made these while they were alive. I miss then & the wonderful Caremel and Chocolate Cakes that appeared for every holiday. Jesup & Savannah, Georgia

  55. Shirley A Harvey says:

    Lana do you have a cookbook with this choc. receipes in it

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hi Shirley – Thanks for asking. But, no, I don’t have a cookbook. Maybe one of these days!

  56. Treena Johnson says:

    I have had these numerous times. (and made a few times) My husbands family is from Moultrie GA, where we would have them. I am curious, my aunt-in-law says there is one flavor of that type of cake called ‘lemon cheese’, I’ve had it before but would love to make one, but do not know how. Do you know what I am meaning? Any direction would be appreciated.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hi Treena – Yes, lemon cheese is the same thing as lemon curd. My mother makes a wonderful lemon cheese cake. It has the normal size layers with the lemon cheese (curd) as filling and a white seven-minute frosting. You could easily make that into a little layer cake, but I like it the traditional way.

      1. Treena Johnson says:

        Thank you a ton! I will keep you posted on how it turns out (when I can syke myself up to make one, they are a lot of work!!) ❤️

  57. I’ve made this cake several times and it always turns out creamy, not hard/crunchy. I usually make my layers ahead of time and freeze them, because I have to make so many at one time. Recently, I cooked the icing, put it on the layers while the layers were still cold. After it set, the icing became crystallized. Any idea why? I can’t figure this out. I let the sugars melt. Oh, and does anybody know why you can’t let the icing boil? I never do, but was just curious as to why.

  58. Hi my name is Janice. I am from Opelika, AL. Both of my grandmothers, my mother and many of my aunts were great bakers. I have made many cakes and love how each one is so unique. Your cake recipe intriges me. I have always made my cakes using buttermilk. I have never made a cake using water as the only liquid. I am curious as to the reason for this.

    1. Hi Lana, I decided to give your chocolate layer cake a try. I made it exactly like your recipe. The cake turned out great. I am thinking the recipe used water instead of buttermilk so the layers would not rise too much in the middle. As for the icing, I did not have any bakers chocolate bars so I used Hershey’s Cocoa powder instead. I did not know the conversion amount so I guesstimated. My icing’s consistency was creamy and thicked up nicely as it cooled. I think I put a little too much cocoa powder because the icing has a dark chocolate flavor. Overall, I was very pleased with the recipe and will be using it again.

  59. Cheyenne Morris says:

    Hey from South Carolina! I am about to attempt to make this awesome cake for my youngest sons 11th birthday! My Great-Grandma always made this cake for our family reunions! She was from Princeton, South Carolina, which is in the upstate of SC, kinda near Greenville! Best cake I’ve ever had, and I can still remember us making sure we got a slice of “Lil Grandmas” chocolate cake! We even call the icing “Lil Grandmas Icing”! ?

  60. Rick Turner says:

    My grandmother made these. She lived in Cochran Georgia. Church dinners, family reunions, and Christmas. My favorite cake.
    If you showed up to a Church dinner with a “store bought cake” you were shunned from the church,
    Grandma once gave my wife and I a cake to take home to Panama city. The cake did not make it there.

    1. My husband cousin lives in Cochran. Carol Sykes.

  61. My grandmother made a tiny layer cake for me years ago. We are natives of Savannah, Georgia. She said then her aunt had passed the recipe on to her.

  62. Betty Powell says:

    My husband and I were born and raised in Augusta ga. Actually Martinez ga. Anyway his grandmother use to make these cakes we thought it was an old family recipe that only his grandmother made we lost our recipe so i googled it and found this sight and a few others so maybe it’s a Southern thang Lolol!

  63. Hi, l live in Australia and l have been making layer cakes ‘tortes’ for a while. Like the Hungarian Dobos Torte or drumbeat cake. I’m going to have a go at this cake, it looks very nice…..l will let you know how l go. Could you tell me approx how much chocolate you have used please, preferably in grams but oz will do. Cheers Edith

  64. I grew up in a small town in southwest Georgia. We had these ineither caramel or chocolate for very special occasions. Or from the auction. There were a few ladies in town who made them, but we always got ours from Mrs. Rose. I am going to try your recipe and take my first shot at a layer cake (well more than 3) for my dad’s 60th birthday. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’m from a small town in southwest Georgia, too! Small world, isn’t it? I hope your cake turns out good.

      1. Anywhere close to Camilla?

        1. Lana Stuart says:

          Fairly close – Colquitt in Miller County.

          1. How much chocolate are you referring to when you say “block”?

          2. Sonya Driskell says:

            Not to far from me, I’m in Baconton!

  65. I decided to attempt one of these cakes and was looking for a recipe. I discarded one after the next b/c I didn’t trust them (I’m sure they were perfectly fine but I couldn’t bring myself to sacrifice the time, money, and energy on just any recipe). And then I saw your’s…When you said you grew up in a rural southwest Georgia town I knew I had found the right recipe. It’s funny to me how quickly I was like “yep, this is the one!”

    I grew up in Arlington. When I was a little girl my grandmother and granddaddy had Sunday afternoon “Coffees”. My aunts would make caramel cakes like this (one of which did make them and sell them!) She also made a fluffy, white coconut cake. My granddaddy (and my daddy) was a peanut farmer and there was always roasting peanuts in the oven and he would make peanut brittle right on the counter-top.

    Such sweet memories of simple times. I think that’s why I “trusted” your recipe. I was reminded of a time when all was right in the (my) world and the hardest decision I had to make was which dessert I was going to eat and which cousin I was going to play with.

    Thank you for sharing. We’ll see how my cake turns out.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I really hope the cake turns out great for you! I’d love to know how you like it.

  66. I had never seen this cake until I went to a local store and bought a piece for my husband.
    He loved it! Now I’m looking to make my own. Thank you for sharing the recipe, I’ll probably use butter instead of shortening. It’s healthier, I think.

  67. I am from southeast GA (Statesboro, GA) and my great-grandmother was almost famous for her 14 layer chocolate and caramel cakes. Before she passed, the one thing I requested were her cast iron pans that she used to make these cakes with. Her recipe, and the one I still use, is very different from this one. I bake the layers at 500 degrees and can make 2 cakes in an hour once I get started. I actually made a chocolate one yesterday and I had forgotten how much I love that smell! According to my grandmother, if the moon is “on the rise” you can easily get 15 or 16 layers. Thanks for posting!

  68. I live in southwest GA (Albany, GA). My mother loved sweets, and this cake was one of her favorites. She recently passed away, so the cake baking baton has been passed along. I tried her “little layer cake” recipe for the first time in all of my 50 years yesterday. It turned out a little messy, but my friend said it tasted really good. I don’t know where the recipe originated (Alabama or Maryland — maybe neither), but it doesn’t matter to me, because it has been a part of at least 3 generations in my Georgia family and no doubt predates my grandmother who was from middle GA (farm country) and 88 when she died at the turn of this century.

  69. This cake is in my recipe box. Some of the
    words have been changed around a bit, but
    it is the same recipe. This cake recipe was
    on the old Hershey Cocoa cans. I am 66 years old & this recipe was in my mother’s
    recipe box on the original wrapper of the cocoa can. It is a brown label & recipe is printed in silver. A delicious cake. My mother made this cake when I was a child.

  70. Dianne Evans says:

    My mother used to make a 14-layer chocolate cake. (I have her recipe). She actually spread the batter on the back of the cake pans so she would have thin layers. I have her recipe. I recently sold a 6-layer caramel cake for $45. It took all day to complete!!!! As they used to say, “a lot of sugar for a dime”, haa

  71. Watkinsville, Georgia. ..outside of Athens. Ladies at my church would make this. I have had it in both chocolate and caramel. Judy Giles made the best ones…she was amazing!!!

  72. Tina Radicchi says:

    i am from duraham nc and grew up eating these.they were at church functions,family gatherings etc.but the best ones were made by my uncle.he owned a bakery in norfolk va.and brought us one of these wonderful cakes when he came to visit.

  73. I’m from East TN but moved to NC where this cake has turned up at church functions. I found out it is made by one of the oldest members of our congregation. She was talking about making this cake the other day after church. Since she brought it up, I had the opportunity to ask if she had any tricks to it. She said well, she had to work fast. For each layer she uses 1/3 c. batter and they don’t bake long. She also said it was important to ice them while the layers were still warm. Since you commented on the layers not making as many as you wanted, I figured I’d share. I’ve been trying to decide what to make for a dessert for Christmas and have decided to commit to this cake since I’ve thought about it before and been hesitant. Maybe it won’t be too hard. Have you ever made the caramel version? I have had highs and lows with caramel frosting so I’d be curious to see if anyone has tips on how to keep the consistency for making this one in caramel.

  74. I grew up in Middle Georgia and always spent Christmas at my grandmother’s or aunt’s in Marietta. We ALWAYS had this cake! For years my mother also made it for my birthday. I haven’t had it since she died 6 years ago, and I’ve really wanted it. My new MIL asked me to make a chocolate cake this year for Christmas, so I’m going to attempt this one! I haven’t had time to go to my dad’s and find my mother’s recipe.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hope you enjoy the cake, Julie!

  75. Tammy Garris says:

    I’m from coastal SC and this cake has been a staple in my family for years. My mama used to make these when I was a kid. I know a number of people who have made layer cakes with these thin layers (usually 12-18) for years.

  76. My great-grandmother always made a seven layer yellow cake with caramel icing. She was from rural south-west South Carolina. She would even keep a set of layers in the freezer, so if company dropped by unexpectedly she was ready; she would set them all out (didn’t take long to thaw), whip up some icing, and before you’d know it there was a beautiful cake to enjoy along with the visit. Hers always looked so neat and perfect — unlike my previous attempts with caramel icing! Great memories.
    I have seen many variations of these cakes at church potlucks and social gatherings throughout South Carolina and east-central Georgia; I have always thought of them as regional Southern recipes, certainly not restricted to only two small towns. I have not encountered them anywhere outside of the South.

  77. FranLivingston says:

    I am from SC and am 52.5 years old-ha. My Parents, Grandparents, Great and Great Great Grandparents all resided in SC. These cakes have been a part of my life since I can remember as a little girl. I continue the tradition of making them. They aren’t easy, but they are worth it!! Each one turns out different in shape, but the taste is always the same! You won’t turn into Patti Labelle with a taste of it, but dang it is love, comfort and goodness in your moth! P.S. I am not a pie girl. Cake for the win!

    1. FranLivingston says:

      Mouth too! Lol

      1. Annie Ruth Council Clark says:

        Hi Lana,
        I named my first born Lana.
        We are from Waterproof, Louisiana, a small town in Northeast Louisiana.
        My dad’s mom always made this cake for repasses, church socials, family reunions, and holidays. It was always a hit.
        I have never known anyone else around here to make it. She always did fourteen layers. I was always in awe of this cake as I was coming up.
        Now that she is no longer with us I have decided to carry on the tradition for her. I hope I do her memory justice.

        1. Lana Stuart says:

          I’d love to know how the recipe works out for you!

  78. My Grandmother used to make this chocolate thin layer cake in her skillet on the stove top with very thin layers. It was always so good. She was a great cook and baker. She lived in Nashville Georgia.That is in Georgia.

  79. Hi, Rosemary…. I’m from Sampson County near Dunn. Sherri’s Bakery in Dunn makes the cakes, and Burney’s Bakery in Elizabethtown and Southport makes both chocolate and a caramel frosting in 15 layers. I read a NewYork Times article years ago statin that they were particulate to Alabama and just had to correct them! I have a coworker from Baltimore who calls them Smith Island cakes because they are popular in a region of Maryland.

  80. Yes! My Aunt Cleo in South Alabama always made these for family reunions. It was always my favorite item on the dessert table! I was specifically looking for a how-to like this so I could re-create it. Thank you so much!

  81. Susan Houston says:

    Thanks SO MUCH for posting this recipe! I had one of these cakes years ago at a family reunion in Dasher, GA (near Valdosta), and apparently it was an old family tradition. That part of Georgia/North Florida is full of descendants of the Salzburgers, several waves of immigrants from Germany and Austria who came over starting in the mid-1700s. This cake seems very much like a Germanic torte; I can totally imagine that it came from that ancestry!

    I got a copy of the recipe at the reunion and have since lost it, so I’m delighted to see this. Thanks!

  82. I have had this in eastern side of the Tallahassee, Florida region. My daughter-in-law makes this at the holidays, but her layers are 1/2 or less the thickness of what yours shows and is about 13-15 layers to make a standard height cake. Hers is the hit of every family get together it is like eating yellow cake soaked in chocolate syrup. It is Heavenly.

  83. OMG! My late grandmother, who would be in her 100’s, used to make these. It was her “go to” cake. She lived her entire life in No. Florida near the Georgia line. The only difference is that she baked her layers on the stovetop on a cast iron griddle. I don’t know how she managed to keep the size of the layers consistent but she did!

  84. Melissa Williams says:

    Can you make this cake with buttermilk instead of water?

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’ve never tried that, Melissa. My guess is that the buttermilk would make the layers too tender and they’re probably fall apart. If you try it, let me know how it works out.

  85. He said this was what he remembered. I made extra frosting and he made sure it all went on.

  86. My husband is from Cairo and before I met him I had never heard of this cake. He talks about his grandmother making it, I grew up in NE GA just above Athens. I hope this recipe is like hers was, because after 22 yrs there is nothing I can think of to get him for Valentines Day that would be more special.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Patricia – this is indeed the classic recipe. I’d love to hear how your husband likes it!!

  87. Marcelle Tudhope says:

    I can’t thank you enough for sharing this recipe! My grandmother, from Savannah, GA used to make this cake all the time. It was a family favorite AND brought in quite a bit of money for her since she would bake, sell and deliver cakes year-round. We could never get her to write down the recipe (she only had a third-grade education) and somehow we never managed to be with her when she baked. She loved to have everything done ahead of time so that we could just “visit.” I made this for my son’s 24th birthday yesterday. All plates were practically licked clean! I’m visiting my parents in GA this coming week and plan to bake one for them. It’s probably been a good 25 years since they’ve had one and I wonder how it will hold up against the memory! Thank you again for taking the time to share!

  88. Ann DesRochers says:

    Lana, I was so thrilled to find your blog with this recipe! My parents are both from southeast Alabama, my mother from Dothan and my father from the Clio-Louisville area. My paternal grandmother and my mother’s sister made these cakes for every special occasion, both chocolate and caramel.
    Caramel was my favorite. Could you post a recipe for that?
    My son, who will be 50 years old tomorrow, has been asking me to make one “like Aunt Pearl used to make” for years, and I’ve just now managed to find your recipe. I’m going to surprise him with one this weekend. Can’t wait to see his reaction!
    Actually, I think it’s the directions that will help most – I’ve baked for local restaurants for years, but just made regular 3 or 4 layers. I’m looking forward to this special creation.

  89. Heidi Collins says:

    I Love this cake I m from Germany my friends Mom USed to make this cake only on Birthdays because she say it is to much work she used a spring form cake pan and baked each layer by it,s self we call the cake Prinzregenten Torte

  90. I love baking my son homemade birthday cakes every year. One year it wasn’t about how the cake tasted at all it just had to resemble “It’s a Small World” from Disney. But this cake looks great and delicious. I would like to know if it’s possible to put strawberry frosting between layers as well.

    Thank You,

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’ve never tried this cake with strawberry frosting, Laura. Sorry, I can’t say.

  91. weird question, does the icing harden? I had a woman make this cake for us and her icing was amazing! I haven’t had a layer cake like it since!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      The icing does form something like a crust on the outside but it doesn’t completely harden throughout.

      1. Robin Timmons says:

        Hi! I just came across this recipe and going for my first attempt tomorrow night. In my hometown, you weren’t “nobody” if you didn’t know the lady that made the best “chocolate thin layer cake”. The cake lady in Ocilla, Georgia we knew well was Ms. Tankersley and the cakes were awesome! They were gave as very welcomed gifts and receiving one was a honor. I’m pretty sure she did caramel too, but the chocolate was most popular. She only offered these two cakes and people bought at least two during the holidays. Sounds like a great side business!

        I’m really not sure if Ms. Tankersley still has her cake business but I’m sure my Nanny still has a favorite cake lady she calls during the holidays. Over the past few years there has been a bakery In Tifton, Georgia; that could just as well be a “cake lady” because I’ve never heard anyone mention the name of a bakery. Sometimes people in South Georgia can get secretive about who their “cake lady” is. Cake business can get serious to folks. Whomever it may be though does many different types of this type cake and are all to die for! Doing the traditional chocolate, red velvet, key lime, and German chocolate; that I’ve saw at different gatherings the past few years. Simply amazing cakes.

        I’ve been trying to decide which cake I could use as my “side job” during the holidays this year and I think I’ve narrowed it down to this cake. It’s a classic cake with a pretty simple recipe, and I think the people in the area I now call home will fall in love with too. I guess I’ll have to wait and see how it turns out tomorrow night.

        Thanks for the recipe!


        1. Lana Stuart says:

          Hope it turned out good for you, Robin! I’d love to know.

  92. Kim Whitfield says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I live in Wilmington,NC and travel a great deal all over NC. I have found this cake in many a traditional BBQ restaurant all over NC, sold by the slice. There are many small local bakeries and ladies that still make it today and it is at every family gathering. The grocery chain Piggly Wiggly in SE NC usually has a homemade version available by the slice daily and the cake can be ordered ahead. Some of the stores use box mix and frosting and some make homemade (Warsaw and Wallace NC are good). They also can be found in the grocery’s freezer section and thaw beautifully. Thank you for posting and accepting comments. I love your site.

  93. Katharine, I live in your region. Burney’s Bakery in Elizabethtown and Southport sells both chocolate and caramel 12-layers. The caramel is just as good as the chocolate and as good as homemade!

  94. Katherine says:

    The cake looks fantastic! Can’t wait to try it :) . I also live in a small town in Eastern NC, very close to the SC border. These cakes are made by many older ladies in town, but aren’t as common as they were when I was a child.I don’t think I have ever seen a caramel one around here though, only the chocolate and they usually have anywhere from 7-11 layers.

  95. Caroline Domack says:

    This cake is beyond wonderful! I would like o make a couple now for Christmas, will they freeze nicely? Thanks!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      You can freeze it if you allow the icing to set until quite firm after your frost the cake and then wrap the cake very well. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator or in a very cool place for a couple of days before serving.

  96. My grandmother made a lemon cake like this every time we visited her in Mississippi and it is now being made in Arkansas and Texas. The recipe was given to her by an older aunt. I know they were making it in Marengo Co., Alabama before 1900. It is a family favorite. I used to call her when I started making the batter and again when making the icing. Wish I could still do that! I have her recipe and spoon in a shadow box on my study wall. I have to look at it every time I make THE CAKE. My children have fond memories of my grandmother’s cake and other cooking. I agree that from scratch cakes are better than mixes. Thank you for this article; based on it, I may have to adjust a couple of my methods. Like making the icing first.

  97. My family from north and middle Georgia had them all my life and I am 65 years old. Not just a cake for a small area. A real treat!!!

  98. Belinda Skipper says:

    I am from eastern South Carolina and grew up with my grandma, Mom, aunts and many members of the community where they grew up making these cakes. They used cocoa instead of chocolate blocks. I have seen layers so thin and cakes up to 20+ layers. This is my favorite cake.

  99. Yvonne Torres says:

    Omg I have been trying to find one for a long time and I would really like one especially that I am 8 months pregnant and have a craving for it. Unfortunately I’m not that much of a great baker so if you know anyone willing to deliver please let me know.

  100. Lana, I live in the Pee Dee area of South Carolina and this cake is one cake that is highly sort after during the holidays. I knew a lady that made them for me but she is sick and does not cook anymore. Thanks for sharing your recipe. I will be attempting to make one myself for Thanksgiving.

  101. This cake is an old favorite of mine that my grandmother use to make. My son always request this cake on his birthdays every year! This cake is still very popular in South Carolina.

  102. Teresa Hawley says:

    I made this for my oldest daughter’s wedding….the final outside layer was cream cheese frosting…..what a huge cake…a heavy cake…and not a single crumb left !

  103. Sandy Collins says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe Lana!
    I live, and grew up, in Northwest Florida. This cake is one we would only have at family reunions in Andalusia, AL – where my mother’s family is from. My husband is from Sylvania, GA and his grandmother made this cake all the time and it was his favorite. Since we didn’t know anyone who had the recipe, on either side of the family, I went looking and yours was the only one that truly reminded us of those cakes.
    Since I’m not a baker I used a box cake mix (sorry folks) for this first attempt. I figure if I get the frosting right then I will make both the cake and the frosting next go around….
    I have just finished and I am so excited! To me, the frosting tastes exactly like I remember! This is for my husband’s birthday tonight so I haven’t cut it yet.
    One tip – I had the frosting on Low – I mean the lowest possible setting. All was great then I glance over and it is boiling! Just a bit, on one side, so I yanked it off the heat, grabbed my whisk and started beating it – not the way you do to incorporate air but just to thoroughly blend it. I think I saved it from being too grainy….whew. So if this happens to you – don’t give up on it, you might can save it.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Sandy – thank you so much for your very kind comment. Nothing makes me happier than when one of my recipes brings back fond memories for someone, except…when a reader take the time to comment and let me know that they enjoyed it! Hope your husband enjoys the cake!!

  104. Bobby Wade says:

    My mother, Lizzie Whatley, always made these cakes at Christmas time. She would make one each for all 7 children, and 1/2 each for the grown grandchildren. Hers had a unique taste, which I have been unable to capture, and it was in the frosting. If anyone out there knows what I am talking about, I would love to hear from you. We grew up and lived in the lower Alabama area near Dothan, AL. I have been told a lady in Georgia bakes the cake and it has the same taste. I wish I knew who, because I would give my eye teeth to get the recipe.

  105. We live in Dry Branch, GA and my grandmother used to make these layer cakes in the cast iron skillet sometimes on top of the stove, sometimes baked in the oven in the skillet. But she used cocoa powder and cooked the icing on the stove. When she iced the layers she would use a fork and poke holes in the top of the cake to allow the icing to run in. Delicious.

  106. Question: I have made this several times now and I LOVE IT! It is by far the best 10 layer chocolate cake recipe I have made, but it always looks lopsided, who can I make it look even and pretty? I feel like it is because I put one warm layer onto another and they just naturally slide. Any advice? Thanks and thanks for the wonderful recipe!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Caroline – If the layers are uneven, make sure you even out your batter in the pans before you put them in the oven and also make sure your oven/stove is sitting level! You can also try inserting a toothpick or two every 3 or 4 layers to hold it in place.

  107. It’s interesting to see how many people bake this type of cake or know someone who does. I’m a lifelong Marylander and Smith Island is the first place I ever heard of these cakes. I’ve not had the joy of actually getting to eat one and now that I HAVE to live gluten-free (trust me, this is NOT by choice but by medical necessity), I’m going to have to wait until either myself or someone else “de-glutenfies” it (is that a word?). I personally think Ms. Severson was referring to MANY MANY years ago, perhaps even the late 19th century and early 20th century in which the cakes were only made on Smith Island and the Alabama area. (Wouldn’t it be interesting to discover how these two areas, so far apart, at least a 100 years ago, had this particular style? I wouldn’t be surprised if a young bride moved from one location to the other and took the tradition with her, that how this sort of thing happened pre-modern technology.)

    But, it IS interesting to see how far and wide the cakes have grown. The online retailer Kitchen Krafts has a cake divider system which makes NUMEROUS layers that I’ve been wanting to buy. I wonder if that’s considered cheating to get lots of layers? Or, does it make a flavor difference to bake such thin small layers? Is it along the same concept of pancakes versus waffles that taste differently despite coming from the same batter? Food for thought anyway! (no pun intended there) However, for some reason, no matter WHAT I do, even using Wilton’s cake levelers, etc., I can NOT seem to get even, nice layers when I try to divide normal cake layers. Has anyone used one of those multiple layering sets? They’re not cheap which is why I haven’t purchased it yet. Perhaps I’ll just try baking the small thin layers. Lana, you tickle me with your comment of seeing just how many layers you can get from your batter. I had a great Aunt Zelda who was the baker in the family during her life. She was youngest of 3 sisters and each sister was excellent at one “female” skill. The oldest (my grandmother) was an amazing seamestress and quilter, anything with a needle, the middle one, fashion and entertaining and the youngest, she loved baking but don’t ask her to do any of the other stuff. She also had a bit of obsessive compulsiveness in her (actually all 3 of them did) and would count EVERY cookie she baked. It was a challenge to herself to see just how many sandtart cookies she could get out of each batch of cookie batter. The difference was determined by how thin you could roll the cookies. They’re best when you can almost see through them.

  108. I’ve been baking these for years in S.C. My recipe came from the local newspaper and like you mentioned – only the ingredients & no directions. Most layers I ever got was 15. This is our Christmas & Birthday cake. Would love to have the caramel icing recipe you wrote about. Just found your blog – it’s a joy to read. Thank you for sharing.

  109. North Carolina ladies make the “Thin Layer Chocolate Cake” with 12-14 very thin layers.

  110. Thank you for the directions. I made these as a child with my grandmother all the time. Her entire family was from the Columbia, SC area. She was born in 1912.

  111. Hi! I can’t wait to try this recipe! But I haven’t used baking chocolate much, when you say 3 1/2 blocks is that the smaller blocks that the break into, or 3 1/2 bars?

    Thanks for your help! :)

  112. Tammy Johnson says:

    I’m from south eastern North Carolina & North Eastern South Carolona. Lived on the border actually. I grew up eating these cakes. My mother made then all the time. Some times in a hoe cake iron skillet ,(and I bet most people don’t know what hoe cake is), some times in the oven. She made everything from scratch and the cooked icing. WOW. I don’t like canned or ready made icing to this day. I don’t remember her ever measuring anything. And yea she would make and sell cakes at Christmas. You could even find individually wrapped pieces of this cake in local conveinant stores for sale. This cake is all is all over the South East so no one area can put claim to it.

  113. Lana, I’m from Tifton and make this cake for my son’s birthday and other times when I have two hours to spare. I once threw away batter when I got to layer #18 because I was too tired to go on! Do you have a secret to keeping all the layers stacked evenly? No matter how hard I try, they seem to come out lopsided! My momma says an ugly cake is the best tasting so mine have to be awesome!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Kathy – You can try using a couple of long wooden skewers. Put them in after about 5 or 6 layers and keep stacking up on them. Just be careful because it’s real easy to tear your layers on them. Personally – I just keep pushing it up straight as I work. They always try their best to slide around :-)

  114. Thank you SO much for sharing this recipe! I am a southerner (my family is from Nashville, GA) who is living in Hong Kong….Good cake is hard to come by here, and I have been craving this classic southern cake. I just made your recipe and it came out perfect…just like the cake I remember from family gatherings. I am so proud of myself that I got 12 layers out of it! Thanks for helping bring a little taste from home to a far away place!

  115. Lana-
    If you do find out how to convert the measurements, to answer the above question, please post for all of us to see.
    I have a similar problem with all my handed-down recipes.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I sure will, Vicki. Maybe I’ll do a whole new post about it.

  116. Rosemarie says:

    Lana I don’t know if this is an appropriate question here or not. Please delete if not. I am a great grandmother, 86 yrs. old, and I am having a problem with making my old tried and true recipes. They use to always turn out perfect and could depend on the recipes. Now they flop, or don’t turn out right. Someone said, that the ingredients, e.g. flour etc. are a different consistency now than they used to be. I know you aren’t any where near my age, but have you, or anyone you’ve heard of have this same problem? If so how do they correct it.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Rosemarie – It’s true that lots of ingredients are different nowadays, especially flour. The White Lily that we always depended on for our Southern recipes is even different (company was bought out and the formulation changed). I’m not sure how to compensate for the differences, though, but I’m going to do some research and I will email you with what I find out.

      1. Rosemarie says:

        Thanks Lana, I will be looking forward to what you find out.

  117. Hi Lana. Just found you recipe for the 10, 12, 14 layer cake. I am 78, been cooking all my life, used to make cakes, professionally. I even lived in LA for a couple of years, but I never heard of this cake. I am from Maine. Never have seen it on a menu or anywhere ekse in the Northeast. I am going to try to make it. It sounds wonderful.

  118. I don’t think I’d want to use a slicing tool. That would take some of the charm away for me. It’s the fact that my Granny made this cake and I want to make one like hers that makes me want to make them in the first place.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hi Adriane – these layers are not sliced. They’re individually baked one at a time.

  119. This looks pretty much idential to a “Smith Island” cake. If you don’t know about Smith Island it’s a small community, on an island, in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. I tried to enclose a picture of a Smith Island cake but the site won’t allow me to do so in this comment box so here is a website address of a company where a person can order a variety of these cakes. The cakes are not only in chocolate, they come in a variety of flavors. See description from Wikipedia below. I particuarily like that THIS cake has been designated as the OFFICIAL dessert of the state of Maryland. I guess since this is the case I’d better learn to make one pretty darn quick. They can be anywhere from 8 to 15 layers. Heck, if you’re going to do it, you might as well go all the way and go for the 15 layers. I guess I’d better get busy and order my Frieling Cake Layer kit.
    If for some reason this website address does not work, you’ll have to paste it as it wouldn’t paste in a link, just do a search for Smith Island cake and you can find a variety of recipes to make your own. This cake is one of them on my “bucket” list of cakes I want to make one day. HOWEVER, before I attempt this cake or ANY cake with some small, tiny, fragile, delicate layers I fully intend to purchase a Frieling Layer Cake Slicing Kit which can be purchased from Chef’s Catalog. The thing cost $60.00 so it’s not like adding on a little cookie cutter or a new Ateco tip or something. But truthfully, I wouldn’t even THINK to attempt a cake like this without that tool.

    Smith Island Cake:
    Smith Island has its own region-specific traditional cuisine. The most famous dish is a locally produced cake featuring 8 to 15 thin layers[9] filled with creme, frosting and/or crushed candy bars. The cake is iced with a cooked chocolate icing. Beginning in the 1800s, Smith Islanders would send these cakes with the watermen on the autumn oyster harvest. The bakers began using fudge instead of buttercream frostings, as cakes frosted with fudge lasted much longer than cakes with other frostings.[10] The cake is often made using a commercial cake mix but with unique additions such as condensed milk. It can also be made from scratch using flour.[11] The most common flavor is yellow cake with chocolate icing but other flavors such as coconut, fig, strawberry, lemon, and orange are also common. Known simply as the Smith Island Cake, the dessert is baked for any occasion and not reserved only for holidays.[12] The cake is also baked as the feature prize for a local fundraising tradition called a cake walk which is a game played like musical chairs where donated cakes serve as the prize. Great attention is paid to the perfection of the pencil-thin layers that form the distinctive cake.[13] Before each round, the prize cake at stake is cut in half and shown to the players who pay to participate in the game. A poorly stacked cake may not attract many players and as a result, not raise as much money as a more perfectly executed cake.[14]

    On April 24, 2008, Smith Island cake was designated as the official dessert of the state of Maryland

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Pamela – yes, it’s similar to the Smith Island cake. Lots of people have commented on that.

  120. My Great Grandmother Grandmother & Mother made these multilayer cakes all their lives. Chocolate, Lemon Cheese, Coconut & Carmel were always around for Holidays and Birthdays. They would take all day to make because of the small ovens and many layers.
    I still have their recipes, but forget to make them often enough.
    You’ve inspired me to do it again!
    I live in Savannah and there used to be a lady here who you could order them from, but can’t find her anymore.

  121. I am from Eastern North Carolina and my aunt used to make these for holidays and birthdays. Hers usually had 25 or so layers and you could only eat a thin slice because they were so rich. These cakes are delicious and your looks beautiful. When I get some time to bake, I am going to give this a try. Thank you so much for sharing!

  122. My mother made these at Christmas all of my life until she died in 1999. She sometimes had 13 layers on her cakes, the difference being that her’s was the boiled chocolate icing. Every year we gathered at her house to make the cakes, (fresh grated coconut, apple/orange, banana and a nut pound cake). I was usually the one that got the job of stirring the icing.
    The Christmas before my mom passed away in February, she was worried about her cakes and how they were going to get done. I told her that I would do them. She insisted they be done at her house and every once in a while she would get out or the bed and come to make sure I was doing them right.
    I have not been able to see a Christmas come since she passed away that I did not have those same cakes. I have only managed to get 10 layers on mine, but it is definitely part my Christmas memories with my mom.
    I live in the midlands of South Carolina.

  123. The cake originates in New Orleans with pudding between the layers, It is a Doberge Cake. Gambinos bakery bought the recipe from the imigrant that first made it when she sold the bakery to them.

    1. The Doberge cake originated at that bakery in the 1930s as an adaptation of another cake. I’d be really surprised if the Doberge cake was the original for this cake though. It seems like the only thing in common is the multiple layers. With others telling of their great-grandmothers and great-great grandmothers making this cake, I assumed it had been around longer.

  124. I make these for my family and friends. I am from NC now living in GA. The most layers I have ever made was 26 “paper thin” layers for my Pastors’ birthday. A LOT of work!

  125. My saw the times article a few years ago and responded that the cakes were not exclusive to Alabama! A lot of east coast folks (nc, sc, ga) settled Alabama in the early 19th c. So I expect they took recipes with them.

  126. These are referred to as “Smith Island cakes” here in Maryland. And, naturally, Marylanders assume they’re only made here!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Isn’t that funny, Sarah! I’ve found out through the comments on this post that they’re made throughout the South. The New York Times story that I linked to in the post stated emphatically that they are made ONLY in a small area in southeastern Alabama!

      1. Granny was raised in Bellview near Colquitt, and she and her mother and younger sisters moved to Central Florida when she was in her late teens, after her father passed away. She made these cakes all during my Dad’s growing up and baked them for Thanksgiving and family functions when I was growing up. They definitely aren’t limited to SE Alabama. I don’t know how any good food could be limited to one small area. People tend to take their favorite recipes wherever they go and pass them on to their children.

  127. I am Georgia girl…born and raised down here.
    These cakes are very popular in the Vidalia-Reidsville-Statesboro areas. Everyone round here knows someone who sells them and there is always one or two old ladies in every church that make them :)

  128. I live in North West Florida, close to Panama City and Tallahassee. We’ve always had these at gatherings, especially church gatherings. My Mama would make one, but on hers she would put some of her homemade Mayhaw Jelly, OH MY how delicious they were. Thank you for bring back wonderful memories, now i want to make the chocolate one and a Mayhaw jelly one for my kids…..and ME.

  129. I would love to make a caramel cake, please post recipe.(caramel icing)

  130. I would love to make a caramel cake, please post recipe.

  131. Shelly Taylor says:

    I am from middle GA, Macon, and I know that these cakes are a staple for the Church suppers and socials in the area. I have seen & have had these cakes with the many little layers that are baked individually. Around Macon, many people call this a 14 layer cake because it is about how many layers there usually ends up being after it is completed.

  132. I’m from Kentucky and stack cakes are made here, mostly Apple Stack Cake. They are made and sold at Apple Festivals, etc. They have 12-14 thin layers. They look like yours except apple. They are yummy! I have never made the chocolate but I have made the apple many times. They also made a mini version (think pancake size) with multiple layers that they sell at the festivals. I’ve only made the big ones. I’m definitely making a chocolate one after seeing yours!

  133. I love the pictures I’ve seen, and I would love to make a lot of them. So I don’t want to miss any recipes u put out, so won’t u please add me to u r mailing list! Ty

  134. Doreen McCloskey says:

    Lana, I have searched for this recipe for many years. I cannot thank you enough for posting it! My Granny from Hazlehurst, GA, made this cake many times during my childhood. I loved her and I loved this cake! Now that I have this recipe, I can pass down to my children a delicious part of my Granny’s legacy! Thanks so much!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’m so glad you found the recipe here, Doreen! I hope you enjoy it and think of your Granny when you make it.

      1. Doreen McCloskey says:

        Hi Lana.. I will think of my Granny and I’ll be thanking you at the same time.

  135. Lana – My family is from Dublin, GA and I remember this cake when my grandparents died. Someone made one chocolate and one caramel for my mom and her brothers. I found a similar recipe in a Martha Stewart cookbook but it was almost too sweet to eat. My friend and I are going to try and make this one for Easter. You mentioned caramel in your article but the recipe only includes the chocolate icing. Just curious if you had the recipe for the caramel icing that works with this cake. Thanks for the information.

  136. Gladys Adams says:

    I live in Delaware and heard about Smith Island Cakes for years. I came across a tiny 4 inch version in a hot dog restaurant in Cambridge, MD. I bought 2 for our yearly tea for the Adams Family women and we loved them. Wanting a bigger cake I checked on line and found many bakeries in the area that make them. The one I went to is in Salisbury MD and they make these cakes in 22 flavors. My husband loves the coconut version. They bake them as you do in many layers rather then slicing the cakes. They have 8 to 10 layers. If you want to see all the flavors you can go to Classic Cakes Salisbury MD and see the whole list.
    I enjoyed reading all the comments about your cake, it looks amazing.

  137. My great-grandmother made a cake very much like this with the individual baked layers but her icing was more like a chocolate glaze made with coco powder instead of baking chocolate. Hers normally had between 7-9 layers and she made 2 versions, the chocolate and a pecan that was made with an icing similar to a 7 minute icing. These cakes have been passed over the past 5 generations and we still compare them to the original “Granny Cakes”. Our family is from the lower Alabama area. These cakes have always been a staple at any family get together for as long as I can remember. I have made them during college for roommates and friends and over the years I have brought them to work/friendly gathering and I have never had anyone say that they had seen or heard of this type of cake before. It is truly amazing how much things have changed over the years and how much easier it is to share info through the great wide web. I have never seen or heard of a caramel cake. I would love to have the recipe to try that one.

  138. My Grandmother made these. She was born in 1897 and lived in SE Alabama. my husband from OK. Had never seen one and was quite impressed with the cake!

  139. Donna Nelson says:

    My husbands grandmother is from Paintsville Ky and they have an annual Apple Day,, and she made apple stack cake every year and it was a lot like your cake,,, she also made 3 kinds of apple pies,,, ,regular two crusted like you see in your grocery store,,,, something called a soft apple pie and fried apple pies,,,,, and for breakfast her famous apple butter,,,,,, I know she had at least 14 layers to her stack cake,, it was legend,,,,, and so good.

  140. Chaney Noe says:

    My late mother, Clara (Curnutt) Truett born in 1911 said her late older sister Mae (Curnutt) Franklin made a seven layer one of these in Homer, Louisiana back in the 1930’s. Where she got the recipe is unknown since their mother never made it and my mother had never had it before. My mama said it was heavenly and never forgot that cake. They all lived in the Cotton Valley area of Louisiana until marriage. There was no other state connection. Thank you for the memory of my mother. Sincerely, Chaney (Truett) Noe. Wagoner, Oklahoma

  141. My grandmother from upper part of Georgia made the thin layer cakes – carmel with yellow layers and chocolate with yellow layers. I have made them also but the key is letting the layers cool and having the icing in the right consistance so it sets up quick when you finish. 6 layers cakes are easier to manage due to the more layers you have its easier for them to start sliding.

  142. I am from Rockingham, NC and I had an aunt Gladys who made a cake like this. In fact I was talking to my cousin in Riverside Calif. and we were talking about her cake and wishing we had a piece of it. She had seven children and she sure could bake! Lots of good memories!!

    1. I am from Hamlet, do you know the Boney’s from Hamlet, that is my family. I have made this cake so many times now, it is so good. My mom even said it was as good as Artie’s from what used to be The Cake Shop on circle in downtown Rockingham, the best compliment ever!

  143. Mary Alice says:

    I’ve seen many of these cakes in southeast Georgia. They are delicious and always a coveted item at raffle fundraisers.

  144. I so thank you for posting this recipe. My great grandmother’s recipe card looked like that of what you described, just a few sentences and no real measurements, no way I could even try to repeat that. I am going to try this one this weekend and hope it tastes like hers did.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      You’re welcome, Caroline. Best of luck with the recipe! I hope it turns out just like you remember your great grandmother’s.

      1. I made this today, it is great!! Thanks again for sharing. I only got nine layers, I really wanted 10, but I can fix that next time. I had a few problems with my layers breaking apart, but no big deal, it taste wonderful.

  145. Valencia Hill says:

    My grandmother made this cake!!!!!! ALL THE TIME!!!! She was from Mississippi! She only did the caramel, though. Do to have that recipe????? I would love to surprise my family!!!! She is gone and never shared her recipes. ( you know the type :) ) I’ll so happy I find this!

    1. did you get the caramel recipe? Would just love to have it is my favorite.

      1. Lana Stuart says:

        Sandra – I do not have a caramel icing recipe specifically for a little layer cake. You could try just a regular, standard caramel icing to see if that works.

  146. A few old ladies make them here in graniteville sc

  147. AMY BRYANT says:

    You mention people in your town making a caramel icing for this cake. Have you perfected a recipe and if so would you share it? I got a recipe from an elderly friend soon before she died and it was the typical, spoonful of this and handful of that and I’ve never perfected it – although it does taste great!

    Thanks in advance!

    1. I’d love the recipe too. My Dad recently told me that he always enjoyed Granny’s caramel cake. I’d love to make one. Granny was the same way when she cooked- a spoonful of this and a handful of that.

  148. How many oz’s are in a BLOCK of unsweetened baking chocolate? Or is a BLOCK and a BAR the same thing? I’m trying to remake my grandmother recipe of this type of cake and most of the ingredients/measurements are the same, but I can’t seem to find out if a block and bar are the same thing or not. I ask for the oz’s because I know Bakers brand recently changed the size of the bars from 8oz to now 4oz.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      A block is 1 ounce.

      1. Thank you!! I’ve been trying to figure this out for hours.

  149. My father always talks about how his mama made cakes like this when he was growing up in Reidsville, GA (SE Georgia). Simple, thin layers of yellow cake cooked in a cast iron skillet and each layer coated with very thin, syrupy chocolate icing.

  150. Cathy Ammons says:

    I live in Eastern NC and make this all the time. My recipe is a little different than this one. I’m going to try some of the different ones just to see how I like them.

  151. My aunt who lives is Nichols, SC makes this cake. It is wonderful. I live is spartanburg/Greenville, sc area and have had some with peanut butter icing as well. Getting my nerve up to try my hand at it for the first time….. We shall see.

  152. My sweet son who is the youngest of 6 has his birthday on 12/23. I asked him what cake he wanted and described this cake. I grew in Northern Florida and this recipe has been handed down through the years in my extended family. I am so grateful you have posted this recipe. It was my favorite every Christmas when all my cousins got together. My mother has mailed yhr cake to us in the winter because we it love so much. I think of my aunt who lived in SW Georgia when I was young. This recipe is a blessing.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Thank you for your sweet comment, Natalie! Would you believe I *just* got finished making one of these for Christmas? Best birthday wishes to your son and a Merry Christmas to you!

  153. The blocks of chocolate each equal 1 ounce.

  154. My son bought ghirardelli baking chocolate instead of the baker’s brand. Not sure if the blocks would be the same measurement. Could you give the approx. weight you use of chocolate?

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Vicki – the squares of baking chocolate are 1 ounce each.

  155. My mom is from South Georgia, near the Tifton area, and my aunts have made the chocoalte and the caramel version. I grew up in North Florida and it was a popular cake there, too. I now live in Northeast Alabama and I don’t see it made here. I have made it a few times. Most people are amazed that each layer is baked individually. I have made up to 15 layers but not all 15 were in the cake since I do tend to break a few layers.

  156. Hi,

    am looking for a recipe with the thin layers…my mom called it “hocake cake” and cooked it on top of the stove in a small black round griddle. It was a yellow cake and the icing was clear almost with chopped pecans or chopped pineapple added…we are from south Georgia

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hi Betty – I’m from south Georgia, too, but the only hoecake I’ve ever known about is a thin cornbread. I haven’t heard of a sweet hoecake.

  157. Will add your user friendly recipe to my Christmas menu. Thanks!

  158. Looks just like my grandmother’s cake everyone used to stand in line for at gatherings. My sister gave me a recipe for it but assumed I knew the meaning of a tad of this and a bit of that. Also, said to cook icing to soft-boil stage. Managed eight layers on my one try but the icing dripped to the counter and floor. Clean up was not worth it. Does this icing have the slightly crusty texture on the very outside?

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Vicki – yes the icing does have a little crunch on the outside after it has set. And it does run everywhere when you’re icing the cake. I set the cake on a rack inside a baking sheet and just keep scooping it up and putting it back on the cake :-)

  159. I am so proud to say that I made this cake last night, and it turned out so great!! I’ve always wanted to make one, since growing up in Eastern NC, and enjoying it. It was a big hit after church today for dessert! In fact, I think I will make another one for Thanksgiving! I ended up with 9 layers, and was happy with them, because I was using 9 inch pans, instead of the called for, 8 inch.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’m so happy to hear that you had success with your cake, Kim! That’s fantastic.

  160. How thoroughly delightful it is to have discovered your site, Lana, and just in time for the holidays, too, for the conversation here resonates with a warmth that is akin to sharing stories in a dear one’s kitchen. And this recipe is simply divine! Thank you!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Thank you so much for your kind comment!

  161. This is very popular in Northwest Florida. My grandmother is making me one today. I can’t wait to share it with family and friends.

  162. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’m from Eastern NC also and this cake is the one that everyone would flock to at our family reunions and holidays. My aunt would make it and bless her heart, she couldn’t cook much else, but she was a fine baker and this was her specialty!

  163. Jo Brooks says:

    I have tried to do this several times and have never been successful. Do you just grease the pans or flour and grease? I have seen these cakes made around here in N.C.; but the two women I knew that made them no longer do. My cakes stick to the pan and break when trying to get out. I love this cake and want to be able to make it. Any help would be appreciated. I flour and grease my pans.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hi Jo. I grease the pans with shortening. I wipe them out and re-grease in between each set of layers as I bake.

      1. Sandy Powell says:

        Jo, not sure if you do this or not, but do not put the batter into the pans until just before you slide them into the oven. If you put the batter into the pans and they sit for several minutes before baking, they will stick. I just spray my pans with PAM Baking or Bakers Joy Floured spray, spray well, and I turn my pans upside down and the layers fall out onto my hand. I do not flour and grease seperately. I have made hundreds of these. Good luck.

  164. Sandy Powell says:

    HI, I also make the little layer cakes, 14 layers that is. I have made hundreds of them. I live in SW Georgia, my recipe came from my husbands Grandmother who lived in Alabama. The recipe posted here is very similar to mine, and I am sure is just as good. I know of several people here that make this cake, so it is not just an Alabama cake or Smith Island Cake. Everyone loves it!

    1. Sandy Powell says:

      also, I was just reading more posts / comments, did not realize you live in Colquitt. I live in Blakely, and I bet you know my sister, I have several relatives who live in Colquitt……small world !!

      1. Lana Stuart says:

        Hi Sandy – Yes, I grew up in Colquitt and my mother still lives there. My husband and I live near Atlanta now.

  165. This cake is an ole’ favorite in Eastern North Carolina as well.

    1. Susan Gillikin says:

      Thank you for this recipe. I plan to make it tomorrow. Do you happen to have the caramel frosting recipe? If so please share!

  166. These cakes are so popular in Eastern NC that some bakeries make them. Seems to be a pocket of popularity with Bladen, Sampson, and Harnett Counties at the center. I love the chocolate (try to get one for every birthday), and no church function or wake is complete without it. This weekend I enjoyed a slice of 15-layer black walnut cake with cooked caramel icing. Oh, my!!! I’m pretty certain that both cakes are served in Heaven.

  167. I made this today but altered to 1234 cake and used old-fashion icing (cocoa). Delish!

  168. Wouldn’t you know it! Our family was all together for a funeral recently and they all started talking about Ma-Ma’s little layer chocolate cake. No one knew how she made it but they all missed that cake. And where is Ma-Ma from? The southwest of GA :) My husband has been trying for years off and on to make her cake. He’s going to try this one today :)

  169. My Granny made a cake like this. She grew up in the Bellview area outside of Colquitt in Miller County, Georgia.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hi Adriane – I’m from Colquitt, too, and these little layer cakes were always around when I was growing up.

      1. If you know anyone with the last name Addison, they are probably kin. :)

        1. I asked my dad about this cake. He said granny made 5 layers. I don’t remember them being quite as thin. He said he really liked the caramel one she made so I’m looking for a recipe. :)

  170. Hi! I am writing an article for my blog about my friends obsession with these cakes! She drives to the outer banks of nc and buys 3 at a time and brings them home to freeze! I am featuring you as my inspiration as I am going to attempt to make this!! I will let you know how it goes!!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hope the cake turns out good for you! Let me know how it goes.

  171. My Mother-in-law made apple stack cake, her’s had 6-8 layers. I learned to make it from an older lady at my sister-in-law’s church, it has five layers. My kids liked it and always hoped one of the layers would break apart coming out of the pan so they could eat it right then while hot. Her recipe said you could also use it to make Tea Cakes, it’s really good. I live in Northwest GA.

  172. Cheryl Edmondson says:

    I live in the panhandle of Florida and I’ve seen, made and eaten these cakes all my life. My grandmother made them in iron skillets on a wood bring stove and if he lacked the ingredients for the chocolate icing, she would put homemade blackberry jelly between the layers and on top. My daddy liked them better with the jelly but I’m a fiend for chocolate so that’s the way I always go. I took one of these to a family reunion last year and it was the first dessert plate empty. These cakes are time consuming to make but everyone seems to love them so much it’s worth it.

  173. Vera Futch says:

    The only one I have ever seen was in Georgia, Swainsboro to be exact. It was tasty though

    1. I’m from a Statesboro, which is very close to Swainsboro. My grandmother made these for birthdays, along with her caramel cakes.

  174. I am going to try this cake tonight. I’m originally from Anderson,SC and this cake was a special treat anytime or church had a dinner. It was made by a little lady we called Mama Grease because she was always cooking. I haven’t had one of her cakes in over 30 years. No pressure for your recipe. My cooking ability are questionable.

      1. Lana Stuart says:

        That looks just perfect, Dean! Now you’re making me want a slice. Maybe I’ll have to make one myself this weekend :-)

  175. I made this for the first time today and ended up with nine layers and it looks pretty good. It was not as hard to make as I thought it would be. Trying to give it some sitting time but I have 2 sons that had to taste it immediately. They think it is good. Kind of excited to make this old time favorite! Thanks for the recipe from a fellow GA Peach. (Macon). :)

  176. I live in Madison, FL and we have several people in town who make these 10 layer cakes with the individual layers. I can’t wait to try making this one. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hope it turns out great for you, Karen!

  177. Hi! I’m from South Carolina and my grandma made this cake for every special occasion and for many Sunday family dinners. It brings back so many memories! Thanks for sharing the recipe! :-)

  178. Hi! I just found this post through the Southern Food Bloggers page, but I love it! I’m over in Bainbridge (so it’s nice to find someone blogging nearby!) but grew up in Bristol, Florida, just over the line. I had one of these little layer chocolate cakes for my birthday every year of my life! Now I’m making them too. A trick I use – I bought 14 aluminum pans from the Dollar General – that way I don’t have to wash and re-grease while I’m focusing on baking! I let the dishwasher do the rest. :) You can see my most recent little layer cake on my blog. Thanks for sharing – you don’t see them very often anymore, especially outside of the tri-state area! And you’ve got a new follower in me. :)


    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Welcome Natalie! I’m happy to have you as a follower. Yes, I grew up in southwest Georgia, but I live north of Atlanta now. These very special cakes are a part of our culinary history that I hope younger cooks will keep alive. They’re a lot of work to make, but soooo worth it!

  179. They are popular with the older generation in the northwestern part of South Carolina. Most people make them with 12 layers, but my neighbor could make 16. I think it is time to try making one myself!

  180. We have definitely been making this cake here in upstate South Carolina as long as I can remember. My daughter usually gets 12 to 14 layers, but the lady who taught her how to make them sometimes got 16. Delicious cake!

  181. hi, the cake looks amazing! can u please tell me is it moist cake? or more on the dry side?

    1. If you overcook the little layers then, yes, it could be dry. You just have to be very careful not to do that. Otherwise, it’s great. Not greatly moist, but nice.

      1. thanks Lana! I will definitely give it a try!

  182. I’m from the Albany area originally and have lived in Sylvester and Baconton! My Aunt just made this cake the last time I visited. Everyone goes nuts over it. I’m planning my 1st attempt at this cake for Easter this weekend:)

  183. Yes I grew up my step mom would make this cake love love love it!!! Thin layers. And I going to attempt it myself!

  184. Love this cake! I had my first slice when my husband took me to visit his family in Nashville, GA. Every time we headed south to visit his family we looked forward to having another slice this cake.
    Thank you for posting this recipe.

    1. You’re welcome, Anne! I love keeping these old recipes alive for future generations to enjoy.

  185. Wow, more favorites. Grew up with this chocolate cake but fewer layers, lemon cheese cake, and caramel. I ask my sister several years ago for chocolate cake recipe. Her response was about 3 tbsp of butter, more or less, 2 cups of something else, more or less and on and on. I took all of her list of ingredients and finally put together a good icing. She used regular milk and cocoa in hers instead of evaporated milk and chocolate squares. My daughters now cook this icing. We use the quick method (cake mix) probably why we don’t get lots of layers but what we make never lasts long. My mother cooked the cheese cake and caramel. You must have attended church dinners too! My father was quite good with cooking pit barbecue, his own Brunswick stew and cane syrup. A family member who lives in Ga now brought me a stalk of sugar cane and wanted to know what to do with it. Use to walk the square in Colquitt on Saturdays and go to movies in old theater, have a hamburger at Ma Harrell’s on corner of square.

    1. You know I don’t make this cake very often, but when I do it’s gone before we know it. Of course, I grew up going to church dinners (dinner on the grounds as we called it). Ma Harrell’s was before my time but I’ve heard my mother and grandmother talk about it many times.

  186. My grandfather (raised in SE Georgia and then moved to Jacksonville FL) worked for the railroad. We would go visit him out on the camp cars (they stayed out all week working on location). The cook for the crew used to make a seven layer cake that we loved. We were just talking about it over the holidays. We will have to try this and see if it reminds us of Pete’s cake. Looks like it could be it.

  187. June Musick says:

    I live in Whitesburg GA which is west GA. I had one of these for my birthday many years. A little lady from Arnco made it.
    My sister made these for years and I have made them as well.

  188. Thank you for sharing this recipe! It is a favorite here in SE Alabama / NW Florida. I wanted to attempt my first one today, on my own, before asking for help from my husband’ s grandmother “MeMa” on the next one. Your icing recipe isn’t exactly like hers, but it looks fabulous!

    1. Oh, and I have a friend who has made up to 21 layers! They are always the biggest money maker at our charity cake auctions!

    2. Good luck, Stacie! I’d love to know how it turns out for you.

  189. I made the cake tonight – ugliest cake I’ve ever made made but tastes fantastic! Lesson learned – if you use the parchment paper for baking, remove it as soon as the cakes come out of the pan or they stick and cause the thin layers to tear.

  190. Betty Davis says:

    My grandmother used to make a stack cake like this with one addition. She added pecans between every layer. I always wanted to know how to recreate this cake as it was my favorite. I never knew how she made the chocolate glaze but this is definitely the cake. My family is from Eastern NC, Duplin County. They had a lot of pecan trees where my grandmother lived so this would account for the addition of the pecans. Grandmother also made the same cake with coconut filling and with pineapple filling. Those three marvelous stack cakes were her specialties every holiday. Hers had 12 layers. Thanks so much for posting this.

  191. My Grandmother lived in Marianna Florida. I remember her baking this cake through out my life in Marianna and Panama City FL. I make one at least once a year. Florida loves tiny layer cakes with chocolate frosting.

    1. I live in Blountstown, Fl; about 30 miles from Marianna. There was always chocolate and jelly cakes made like this at our gatheings. My Mama made Mayhaw jelly and would make a jelly cake like this, using her jelly. It was always a big hit, never any leftovers. Other ladies would bring the chocolate or another type of jelly cake.

      1. My grandmother (Foxworth, MS) did the exact same thing with her mayhaw jelly! She used a poured peanut butter frosting over the whole thing when it was done, and called it jam cake. That’s actually how I found this blog post. I have been searching for the recipe for years!

    2. I live in Blountstown, Fl; about 30 miles from Marianna. There was always chocolate and jelly cakes made like this at our gatherings. My Mama made Mayhaw jelly and would make a jelly cake like this, using her jelly. It was always a big hit, never any leftovers. Other ladies would bring the chocolate or another type of jelly cake.

  192. My daughter requested that I make one for Thanksgiving this year so I’ve been combing the web. After eleventeen google pages, it finally came up with your recipe, which is the exact one I was looking for. The rest of them were for the chocolate buttercream filled. I made one several years ago, baking each layer individually, but was stumped by the frosting. So excited to be able to try this one! We had been getting them from a lady in Jacksonville, NC, but she quit making them. I don’t know where she got her recipe from, but I remember seeing them occasionally when I was growing up in Chapel Hill, NC.

  193. Judy Wise says:

    My granny was famous for her layered chocolate cakes she would usually only make about seven or eight layers, but OMG they is nothing in the world like them. She’s been gone for four years now and I’ve tried several times to make them and have gotten close using her hand written recipe, but like most southern cooks they never really measured anything back in the day, so I think I’m going to try this one and see how close I get to hers.

  194. My Bigmama made these but I never saw how she did it. I just inherited a flat cast iron pan that was my great great grandmother’s that she used to make this cake. Yes, that means she cooked each layer one by one on top of the stove, wood burning stove I’m sure.

    1. Hi Lisa – I have one of those flat griddles, too, and I’ve made this cake on it as well. It just takes *forever* waiting on each layer to cook on the stovetop. Most people now bake the layers in the oven.

  195. I have been making these for years. They are wonderful!!! The caramel version is to die for as well especially with the home made caramel. The original recipes for the layers called for them to be “baked” on the stove top in a cast iron skillet. Me, I have always used 8” or 9″ pans in the oven; I will try the cast iron someday. Great site and yes, let’s keep the traditions going by passing these great recipes down

  196. My great grandmother moved to California from Canton, Mississippi. She made this cake for us every time we came to visit. I had no idea it was a Southern food until I saw an article about layered cakes in the New York times. I am so thankful to have come across your recipe because it closely resembles that cake that she used to make. Thank you.

  197. Helen T. Andrews says:

    Hi….I’ve enjoyed seeing your website. The multi-layer cake is found in many areas. I’m from Ozark, AL.(20 Mi. N of Dothan) and I know of many little ol’ ladies who make this cake, especially for bake sales and holidays. I’ve heard it called the ’14 Layer Cake’ and the frosting is usually chocolate, but have seen caramel as you mentioned above. I’m sure this recipe(or a version of it) has been around for a long time and is common throughout the Deep South(NC,SC, GA, FL, AL, MISS, LA, TENN & TX) and is not really from a particular ‘area’. Everyone seems to think ‘their area’ is the only one with ‘sweet tea’, pound cakes, tea cakes or other old fashioned recipes. LOL! I am a foodie myself and enjoy collecting recipes and trying them out to see if they compare to my mother’s cooking. Most don’t hold up to the test of time, as you can imagine.

  198. Stephanie says:

    Oh my gosh I have been looking for these everywhere! My grandmother used to have them all the time when I visited her house because they were mine and my Grandaddy’s favorite. She lives in a small town near Dothan in the South East area of Alabama. I asked her how to make them recently but she’s on in years and didn’t remember the kind I was talking about. Now I can make this in rememberance of my Grandaddy and the summers I spent drinking sweet tea and reading on his porch swing. It really means a lot, thank you.

    1. I’m so glad you found a recipe for the little layer cakes you remember your grandmother making, Stephanie. It makes my day when one of my recipes brings back sweet memories for someone. I’m from southwest Georgia, just a little way from Dothan, so I’d bet our recipes are very similar. Here’s another one from our area that I bet you might remember your grandmother making, too: Old Fashioned Southern Teacakes (http://www.lanascooking.com/2011/03/01/old-fashioned-southern-teacakes-and-a-lifetime-of-food-memories/)


    my mother is from Miller cty…….has lived in Camilla after she married my daddy….where we grew up

    1. You’re probably really familiar with these little layer cakes then!

  200. I grew up in Atlanta but I’ve seen these around at various events in the city and the mountains, so they’re present in the north half of the state too. Ironically, when I’ve had them in South GA they were clearly split layers.

  201. Here in Maryland they are known as Smith Island cakes. Smith Island is located in the Chesapeake Bay.

  202. My grandmother made these using a cast iron pan. South Georgia…Wiregrass Country. They were common growing up and even though the cake itself isn’t chocolate I called it the chocolate cake.

    1. Hi Mary – I’ve seen people make these little cakes one layer at a time in a skillet. Whichever method you choose, they’re just delicious aren’t they?

  203. Hi great site-especially love the layer cake. It brings back so many happy memories. I’m from the Piedmont area of SC and my family always had these cakes during the holidays. Layer cakes are bragging rights for many ladies, aunts and grannies. The taller the better. Sadly I never made one but I just might give it a try and surprise my family.

    1. Hi Stacy and thanks for your kind comment. These cakes are such a part of our heritage. Let’s keep making them and passing down our recipes to younger cooks!

  204. I am from eastern South Carolina…we have a few ladies that make these upon request. I actually just finished eating a slice…this time our cake had 23 layers!!! (cake only)

  205. My grandmother in Hahira Ga. Used to make this cake every time we would come to visit from Alabama. I recently ask my Aunt Marynell for this recipe!

  206. My 81 year old mother has been making these for years. She gets 18 layers out of hers. She has 20+ cake pans, she greases 18 of them at a time, puts the cake batter in all and then bakes 3 at a time. Everyone loves her cakes! We live in the Sandhills of North Carolina.

  207. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    Love this beautiful mile-high layer cake, Lana. It’s stunning. The icing is perfect and lovely dripping down the sides tempting me since I saw it the other day. I grew up eating a similar multi-layered cake from Hungary (Dobos Torte). I can’t wait to see if you get up to 14 layers!;)

  208. Katherine Martinelli says:

    Wow, what a cool recipe! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  209. Rona Roberts says:

    I regret I don’t know the name of the southeast Georgia town we traveled through about four years ago, or the restaurant that served several of these magnificent cakes in two different locations. I took a lot of pictures and tried everything I could to figure out how the cakes were made. The restaurant had some information handy that insisted the cakes were truly baked in separate layers, not split, but I couldn’t believe it — until now. I am so excited to know how this is done. And may I second Bakeaholic’s abject plea for the caramel version? Could it be done in 7 – 14 layers using your recipe? I made a caramel cake from a recent Saveur last week, and it all worked beautifully, but just in two layers, with a most strange and interesting boiled icing. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

  210. Lynn Lekander says:

    Your cake looks delicious. It reminds me of a Dobosh Torte we made in cooking school. A lot of work for sure!

  211. Bakeaholic says:

    Hmmm…Please, please, please! I absolutely love caramel. Plus, I’m pregnant and a caramel cake sounds fabulous about right now! ;) I bet you have some readers that are caramel fans too. Yum!

  212. Here in a very small town in upstate South Carolina it is still being
    made. The wonderful lady who always brought it to all our church gatherings has passed on, but a couple years before, she invited my oldest married daughter to come over and spend the day learning to make it and bringing home the result! I think it was 17 layers that day, but thats the fun of it, you never know how many layers you will end up with. Thats a cake that is always asked for at special occasions. Good to see others are making it.

    1. Hi Cindy – It’s been fun to read all the comments from people who know about these little layer cakes. So glad your daughter learned to make it and is keeping this little piece of our heritage alive.

  213. Bakeaholic says:

    I’m from the west (now living in the midwest), we didn’t have anything like this gorgeous little cake out there. This looks wonderful. Will you be making the caramel version soon?? That one sounds delicious too. Thanks for posting.

    1. I hadn’t planned to make the caramel one since the chocolate is my favorite. However, I might be persuaded…

  214. Missy Johnson says:

    I’ve seen it with the white frosting (I assume it’s a 7 minute?) with the lemon cheese between the layers, but I have only had it where the layers were filled and the cake was frosted on the outside with the Lemon Cheese. I cannot wait to see what you come up with! I remember my grandmama Harris making hers, and thinking that 9 egg yolks was an obscene anount of eggs to use. LOL That was in the eighties when everyone was concerned about eggs and cholesterol. Her recipe came from a Mitchell EMC fundraiser cookbook, which disappeared.

    1. Yes, it’s the 7-minute frosting. Mama always leaves hers just plain layers with filling and that’s the way I like it, too, but seems like most people want the frosting. Just kind of takes away from the lemon cheese to me :-)

  215. Missy Johnson says:

    Oooh! I have a LOT of Southern recipes I’m looking for. Lately, I’ve been craving Lemon Cheese Cake. Not to be confused with Lemon Cheesecake. I know you know what I’m talking about.

    1. I know *exactly* what you’re talking about and I actually have my Mama’s lemon cheese cake recipe that I’ve been meaning to cook and photograph for the blog for the longest time. You’ve just given me the inspiration I needed to get that one done this weekend. Look for it next week. By the way, do you like your lemon cheese with the white frosting or just the layers with filling?

      1. I don’t see the recipe for the lemon cheese cake in the recipe section. Did you ever make it?

        1. Lana Stuart says:

          I never did post that recipe, Lynda. Thanks for reminding me that I need to do it!

          1. Annie Ruth Council Clark says:

            Hi Lana,
            I would love to have that lemon cheese cake recipe.
            My mother-in-law made a cheese cake that wad absolutely delicious.
            This was not your typical cheese cake.
            This cake had grated cheddar in the batter and the frosting had the cheddar in it as well.
            I tried my best to get her to tell me how to make it but she took the recipe with her to her grave.
            If you are any of your followers know of a cake such ad this, I would very much appreciate it if you would share it.
            Thanks in advance.

            1. Lana Stuart says:

              Wow! I’ve never heard of a cake like that. I’d like to see that recipe, too!

  216. Missy Johnson says:

    Have you ever hear this called Smith Island Cake? I just happened to pick up a Feb. 2009 issue of Cook’s Country, and they had this featured as their Great American Cake. Apparently, it was made the official dessert of the state of Maryland.

    1. Yes, I’ve read quite a bit about the Smith Island Cakes and I think it’s similar but not exactly the same as ours. Theirs have fewer layers, if I recall correctly.

  217. Missy Johnson says:

    I’ve been looking for a recipe like this forever. My grandmama made one of the that was 16 layers for my 16th birthday. She died last year without writing any of her recipes down, and I am pretty sure this recipe is close, if not the one, that she used. Thank you for posting this! I love your blog! I’m a Worth County girl, transplanted to PA via NJ and miss good Southern cooking.

    1. Hi Missy – I hope this recipe will be similar to the one your grandmother made. It’s the traditional one used in my home area so hopefully it’s close to hers. I’d love to know if there are any other southern recipes you’d like to see on the blog. Thanks for stopping by.

  218. Rachel@Time for Good Food says:

    Oh my gosh, this looks divine! I have been mildly obsessed with layer cakes lately and will have to give this a try. I too remember them growing up. Boiled fudge icing is one of my favorite things in the whole world. Thanks for sharing!

  219. Lana, I’m from South West Georgia and my mother has been making this cake for as long a I can remember. I’ve never seen it anywhere else and she does bake each thin layer like this. Her recipe says it make 16 layers, but to hear her tell it she has only accomplished all 16 layers once. She usually breaks or burns a few layers, which is pretty easy since they are so thin. So her’s are usually 12-14 layers, but no one really cares what the exact number is or if it’s a little lop-sided, they just want to eat it :)

    1. Hi Connie – weren’t we lucky to grow up in a place with fantastic recipes like these little layer cakes? I’ve got to keep practicing so I can get up to at least 14 layers from my batter :-)

  220. Elizabeth says:

    Lana, I recently found your blog and just love it! My grandparents are from Coolidge, Ga and this cake reminds me so much of my grandmother! She always made the caramel version for holidays and family dinners. I now live in Dallas, Texas and am going to make this cake and introduce it to the Texans! Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I just know your Texas friends are going to love our little layer cakes.

  221. Lana,
    In south central Alabama, these layer cakes can still be found and I remember them from my childhood! My sister-in-law makes the chocolate one and her family calls it the “Son” cake, because she only makes it when her son comes down from Virginia! The entire family wishes he would come more often! I made one for a cake auction and it brought $180.00 for charity! The apple stack cake is also made in our area of the south! Homemade dried apples were used in it. Thanks for the wonderful post!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Glinda. Wow – your cake brought $180? That’s fantastic! I’d love to try the apple stack cake – sounds like it would be good in the Fall.

    2. My husband has talked about his grandma making this type of cake for years. She was a hundred years old when she passed away several years ago. I had to show this to him when I saw it. He said the one his grandma made was made with dried apples. I would love to have that recipe if anyone comes across it. I will be giving this one a try but not until Thanksgiving or Christmas. We live in north central North Carolina right on the Virginia border.

      1. Joy Barnard says:

        Can you share the recipe for apple stack cake. I got married in 1958 and my mother-in-law used to make this for us. It was wonderful ! Had dried apple mixture between layers and boiled icing poured over the top. I ould have eaten the whole thing

  222. My Grandmother made this cake during holidays. She lived in Atlanta. Thanks for the recipe, it brings back great memories.

    1. Thank you, Jeanne. It always makes me happy to bring back memories through my recipes.

  223. Marianne Lashley says:

    Lana, I`m friends with Brenda and Ted Horton and live at Lake Blackshear and I know you know where Irvinville, Ga. is you being from Sylvester. There`s a lady who lives in Irvinville who makes these cakes every year at christmas . She also works for one of my husband`s customers in the pecan business and she makes sure I get one of these cakes every christmas. They are DELICIOUS. Her`s are 14 layers and so moist. She also makes delicious pound cakes and sweet potato pies.

    1. Hi Marianne – These really are very special cakes, aren’t they? Around my hometown they come in either chocolate or caramel. I’ve heard from several people who have had them in red velvet as well. That sounds delicious!

      Actually, I’m not from Sylvester, I’m from Colquitt (Miller County).

      1. Rachel heinemeyer says:

        How do you make this cake using caramel

        1. Lana Stuart says:

          Exactly the same except you use a caramel icing. I don’t have a recipe for the traditional caramel icing they use.

  224. I’m from Iowa and I’ve never seen this before. If it had made it to our little part of the country, I’m sure Grandma would have made it or it would have shown up at a family reunion!

  225. What a beautiful masterpiece!! really fantasticly put together and gorgeously delicious :)
    Mary x

  226. Alison @ ingredients, Inc. says:

    omg this looks fantastic!!!

  227. Penny Wolf says:

    I live in central Ohio and do not see these layer cakes. I have made them thanks to the web but also thanks to some historical camping and old cookbooks. I have forgotten now where I read this, but I thought an
    APPLE STACK CAKE was the oldest written cake recipe from the colonists.A variation of your recipe and popular for weddings where each guest family would supply a layer of cake and the bride’s family supplied the apple filling. True or not I love the idea of the community coming together for the couple.
    I would like to try and bake a cake on the stovetop.

    1. That’s so interesting, Penny! I have not heard of the apple stack cake but now I want to research it. I’m sure that these small layer stacked cakes probably originated with layers that were cooked in a skillet because no oven was available. They’re also very similar to a torte and may have evolved in some way from that classic recipe. Probably people just making do the best they could with what they had on hand.

    2. I’ m from Eastern NC. My husband is from Western NC. I had 14 layer chocolate cake growing up. He had apple stack cakes. I’d never heard of apple stack caskets until I moved to the mountains of NC with him.

  228. Cajunville says:

    This cake looks wonderful! It reminds me of the doberge cakes so popular in south Louisiana. Doberge is a Christmas tradition in our family. These cakes are a lot of work and I admire you for making one.

    1. I had not heard of doberge cakes, so I did a Google search. Oh, my, they look delicious!! Very much like our little layer cakes.

  229. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says:

    Absolutely gorgeous, I’m in awe!!

  230. Nothing looks little about that cake! ;)

  231. Barbara | Creative Culinary says:

    I never made one of these in my years in the south but now I remember them…and you do it such justice; looks absolutely lovely Lana. LOVE the instructions from the original; so true of a lot of older recipes I have too.

    Thanks for the memories.

    1. Don’t you just love the instructions in old recipes! So simple. They put into two lines what we take a page and a half to write.

      1. Karen Gilliam says:

        I live in Rockingham nc and just finished making this same cake from a recipe I saw on face book. I was making it for thanksgiving. My layers were sliding all over. It looks awful…but it taste good! Any tips on keeping layers front sliding. Thank you in advance for any help on this. Karen

        1. Lana Stuart says:

          Karen – try inserting a toothpick down through the layers every now and then as you stack them.

  232. Ok, confession time. I tried to make this cake one time. One time. I did not have the foresight to think to place it on a rack over a baking pan to try to ice the thing. I chased icing all over my countertops, scooping, and trying to get it on the blasted cake. I did not have a happy experience.

    I am jealous.

    Miss P

    1. Oh, yeah. That icing can be hard to corral!

    2. There are some recipes that call for refrigerating the cake after frosting every layer. Seems it would holds much better, although a little time consuming with 10-15 refrigeration per layer.

  233. I make one with 12 layers. I have 6 pans and I put wax paper in them. That way when they come out of the oven I can pull them right out of the pans. Bake the remainder while the first ones cool. Ive tried doing thin layered red velvet but it stuck to the wax paper. Only tried it once but I know it can be done because Ive had one and its awesome. By the way Im in southeast Ga about an hour from Savannah.

    1. Thena, I haven’t had the little layer red velvet but I’m sure it’s delicious.

      1. Denise Baldree says:

        Lana, I see alot of NC posting…. my grandmother (South Goergia) has always for as long as I can remember made this, I’ve made it several times using my Great Grandmothers recipe that I still have on old oil stained yellowish paper… I’ve gotten 12 but we like our layers thin an crispy. I use a iron skillet. I think it’s fair to say it def is a Southern staple from our grandmother’s before

  234. What a stunning (7 layer?) cake. I’m a layer splitter, using unwaxed, unflavored dental floss, but I’ve always wanted to try the individually baked layers, even though it takes a little more time. They sell them in bakeries here (Northeast), but they’re usually rectangular. I’d give anything for a slice of that beauty, now.

    1. It’s 10 layers, Lisa. I need more practice to get up to 14 :-)

      1. 10 separate layers of cake, or 10 layers of cake and frosting? Here they call them 7 layer cakes, but I’ll have to count the cake layers to make sure they didn’t include the frosting as a layer lol

      2. I bake 14 layers, and they are individual layers.

  235. I live in Eastern North Carolina too and it would not be a family reunion without one of these cakes. I have never seen the recipe although Gladys has told me how she makes hers. Personally I would rather eat one somebody else made!

    1. Hi Nancy – interesting that you and one other person mentioned seeing these cakes in eastern NC. From my other hobby, genealogy, I know that quite a few people in our area have family ties to eastern North Carolina.

      1. Everybody would look forward to Gladys’s cake and if you didn’t get a piece before you got your food you would be out of luck.   I have a funny story to tell you.  My mother found a woman that would make those cakes and she would get one for holidays, birthdays or her bridge club.   She would not tell anyone the woman’s name!   My mother took that woman’s name and phone number to her grave!   

        1. Nancy, Is the Gladys you are talking about lived in Wilmington and grew up in Pender Co named Gladys Harrelson Malpass?? and she has a sister Helen “Jo” Harrelson Jenkins?? Helen is my grandmother and I would really love to know how she made this cake. I have a cousin that found a recipe of Gladys but it’s a bit different.

          I know know that you can get this cake at Paul’s Place Hot Dogs in Rocky Point. Well, it taste the same as my grandmothers only it has 2 layers.

      2. Lana,
        You say your other hobby is genealogy, I’m attempting to work on my dad’s family’s tree and I have quite a few blanks. My family would be from New Hanover and Pender Co.’s. If this is where your family is and you would be willing to help me, my email address is [email protected]

    2. I’m from Eastern NC, Duplin co. We had these cakes every holiday and family reunion too.

      1. Lynn Griffin Hughes says:

        My family originally comes from the Beulaville area of NC. My Aunt Arlene made a 21 layer cake that would make your tongue slap your tastebuds, it was so good. I am searching for her recipe. My sister has it somewhere but she cant find it! I tried the Paula Dean recipe at Thanksgiving. It turned out dry. It was good when microwaved, but not as good as hers.
        Jennifer, is it possible you have my Aunt Arlene Griffin’s recipe?

      2. Carlie C’s grocery store in Durham sells it & it’s actually as close as homemade I’ve ever tasted out of a grocery store.
        I’d like to make my own soon.
        Thx 4 the recipe!!

  236. There is a lady near Savannah, Ga. that makes these and hers are 18 layers. She does the yellow cake with chocolate icing, yellow cake with caramel icing, and a mocha cake with chocolate icing in the little layers. They are delicious!

    1. Amanda – I’ve known some people who could get as much as 18 layers from their batter, too. I’ve just got to keep practicing to get it perfect. And I’ve never had the mocha version but it sounds delicious!

  237. This one is a beauty!!!! and—-something that I have NEVER tried to make. As long as the icing is good, it doesn’t seem to matter how the layers are. So many people just go for the icing. Me–I like the layers too.

    1. Thanks! I thought it was pretty even if it was just a teeny bit lopsided. And I like it all – layers and icing! Some people have trouble getting the icing smooth but this didn’t have a single grain of sugary-ness in it.

  238. I’ve seen lots of these in Eastern North Carolina, only the little ol’ granny I know that makes them makes a full size layer and splits it in half with a thin guitar string looking thing.

    1. Yes, I’ve seen cakes with split layers lots of time, but I’m specifically wondering whether others cook the individual thin layers like this. Thanks for responding!

      1. I’m from Eastern NC and my Great Grandmother (I’m 24 she was born around 1920) used to make a cake just like this baking the thin layers and then using the boiled icing. She used to say when you made a cake not to be too particular about how the icing looked because if you spent too much time making it pretty you’d lose track of making sure it tasted good haha. Then again she could afford to say that considering even her “messy” cakes looked better than most of my pretty ones.

      2. Rosemarie Marchand says:

        years ago we had an Austrian baker in our neighborhood. There 7 layer cake was the best I have ever tasted. I have been trying to find a recipe to duplicate that cake. The layers were not the traditional yellow layer cake. I seem to remember they were sort of tan in color very very thin and almost had a nutty taste.
        does any one know what kind of layers these were? I have been trying to duplicate this cake for years

        1. My Grandmom made a torte with thin layers. I remember her using merangue and ground walnuts with chocolate icing. Delicious! Maybe someone else would remember!

          1. Are the ground nuts mixed with the batter like I remember?

      3. I’m from Dunn, North Carolina and have had these cakes all of my life. My grandmother made these and several ladies in my church and community make these. One lovely lady in my church gets between 30-32 layers out of her cake. It is THE BEST EVER!! It takes her around 3 hours to finish it, and she makes her husband leave while she’s making it! No interruptions! I think she doubles or triples her icing recipe.

        1. Dunn is where I had this cake. A friend of my aunt’s brought one over when my uncle passed away 20 years ago. Still remember it. Always wanted to make one.

        2. Whitney Bain says:

          I’m from Dunn as well! This cake has always had a sweet spot in my childhood! It was always my favorite one, and my first request for any occasion! My grandmother always made cream cheese pound cakes, and I have mastered that recipe. This is one I would like to tackle next (and homemade biscuits). I attended a church fundraiser last night for a family who just lost their mom, and I found myself bidding on one of these cakes..it came home with me LOL! I just started searching for recipes to get the wheels turning for the right time for me to give it a go. Seeing the comments about Dunn made my heart happy! We know how to do it right around here :P Now I’m wondering where this 32 layer one is HAHA

      4. Hi, I bake these thin layer cakes. I do my layers in pans and spread batter thin. I have been making these for over ten years. Ian am in Cairo GA.

        1. Sharon Summerlin says:

          I’m from Moultrie, GA. I make a thin layer chocolate cake like this also but always have trouble getting my layers to lay flat and not be thicker in the middle. I cook my layers in my cake pans and they don’t appear thicker in the middle until I start stacking the cake and the middle gets thicker with each layer. Any suggestions

          1. Lana Stuart says:

            Sharon, one thing you can try is to alternate placing the layers right side up and bottom side up as you stack them. And you can always shave a tiny bit off the top on every second or third layer.

          2. Hi , it could’ve been very thin layers of crepes. I cook mine on the bottom side of a pan and cook only on one side ,they are amazing ,I mean amazing ,I do all sorts of things with them . Or it could be some type of a meringue .

        2. Katherine says:


          This is a long shot but do you still make these cakes? I have been calling around in Cairo and Thomasville all day trying to find someone who can make one for me. If you happen to see this within the next couple of days could you please email me at [email protected]

      5. The pride of making this cake is to accomplish the perfect outcome of 16 layers as the old times one known in eastern NC. My sister and I make one of these every Christmas Eve for our family dinner on Christmas Day. We use the old fashioned fudge recipe and keep it thinned with evaporated milk. delicious! Top with nuts.

      6. Hughlene Collins says:

        Baking the thin layers works much better for me! I’m not good at splitting the full sized layers!

      7. Pam Davis says:

        I’ve seen these (and baked them) since the 50s. My grandmother was so pleased when the war (WWII) was over, because she could finally start making her 15 layer chocolate cakes again (war shortages and rationing, even on a farm, limited a lot of her baking).

        I’m in Soperton, between Dublin and Vidalia, and these have been around since the early 1900s, at least. (And I never heard of splitting layers! Mawmaw baked hers in an iron skillet.)

      8. I first learned of these wonderful cakes near the boarder of NC & SC. There is a precious lady who bakes these for all the church dinners. Her small hands are arthritic and twisted almost into fists, but she is famous for her quiet ways, and this fabulous cake. Baked in thin layers, not sliced.
        I found the news article you mentioned and made it twice, and turned out great. I’m about to try your version to give for Christmas gifts. Your icing seems easier to make.
        Is it very sensitive to humidity when you’re cooking it?

        1. Lana Stuart says:

          Hello Marie – like many icings, this one can be a little temperamental and humidity can affect it but not badly. I hope the cake turns out great for you!

      9. My husbands grandmother (from North Carolina) taught me to make these. She and the ladies at church would make these at Christmas for a fundraiser. They charged a dollar a layer. So much history….So much fun! When our son married he asked for a 14 layer chocolate groomsman cake..,,14 inch square and yes ma’am… I delivered. Legacy cake? Maybe!

      10. Violet matthews says:

        I am from nc an I make the tiney layers

      11. Lauren Brantley says:

        Could you make the layers and freeze them and then put them together a few days later with the frosting? I wonder how the layers would freeze?

        1. Lana Stuart says:

          Good question. I really don’t know. This recipe always calls for the cake to be frosted while the layers are still warm from the oven. You’d definitely end up with a totally different type of cake.

      12. We have had these in years past at family reunions in the Pee Dee area of SC, but not in a while. You have inspired me to try.
        My friend in Hartsville, SC, cooks the thin layers. I think I’ll borrow a couple extra pans from the neighbors.
        Wish me luck!

        1. Lana Stuart says:

          Hope it turns out great for you!

    2. I am from North West Florida. I make this cake quiet often.