Yeah, we know your mama slaved over a hot oven, baking each thin layer of this classic Southern dessert in a separate pan. But John Paul Hutchins, executive chef of Scottsdale Culinary Institute's Le Cordon Bleu program, helped us create this unique 14-layer cake recipe that appeals to the American sense of laziness.
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
3 cups milk
3 cups self-rising flour
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon zest, cinnamon or flavored rum
3 cups white sugar
2 sticks sweet unsalted butter
6 ounces baking chocolate
1/4 cup water
2 cups evaporated milk
1 handful whole pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease three 9-inch cake pans and lightly dust with flour.
In a large bowl, combine shortening, 1/2 cup butter and 2 cups sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix well. Pour batter into pans and spread evenly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until slightly golden brown in color. Insert toothpick in center of each cake to test for doneness. Let cool. Cut cakes into half-inch layers using a large serrated knife. "What chefs do is level off the top of the cake with a knife," says Hutchins. "Then mark a half-inch down from the top and cut by turning the cake in a circle." Place a cardboard cake circle under the layer and remove. Don't worry if a few layers aren't usable the recipe allows for this. Repeat until you have 14 layers.
Combine 3 cups sugar, 1 cup butter, 6 ounces baking chocolate, water and 2 cups evaporated milk in a saucepan over medium heat. According to Hutchins, good quality chocolate is the key to the recipe's success. Opt for a reputable name brand baker's chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Cook for an additional two minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and beat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until frothy.
Place single layer on plate or cake circle and brush with glaze. Top with a thin layer of chocolate frosting. Add second layer and repeat until all 14 layers are stacked and filled. Dab each layer gently, warns Hutchins. "Don't soak it unless you want to make a rum cake. Or you could just throw away the cake and drink the rum."
Frost top and sides of cake and garnish with whole pecans.
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