Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chocolate layer baby cakes: a bit of fun for Mother's Day or any special occasion #recipe #mothersday #mystery @abbottmysteries

This recipe serves several purposes:  I wanted to find the (currently missing) recipe that my mother and Victoria’s grandmother used for her chocolate cake.  We all loved that recipe and boy do we need it back!  This one came pretty close and it makes a light, chocolate-y cake that is even tasty without icing.  Of course, we’ll offer you the full deal here.

I really wanted the recipe in time for Mother’s Day as there would be several mothers there and no one around beside them who makes cakes. 

We needed to take one of the cakes to my mother-in-law and Victoria’s other grandmother who has a lot of trouble getting out from her nursing home these days. 

Finally, I wanted to try out the four 3-inch cake pans I bought while on a ‘girls’ day in our village last year with my good friend, Linda Wiken/Erika Chase.  Linda asked me recently how many cake pans I own. The answer is ‘too many’, but never mind.  Call it a weakness.

I bought these 3-inch ones after seeing a feature in our newspaper about a chef who creates 3-inch cakes.  Then I couldn’t find any recipes for that size.  There has been a certain amount of experimenting with recipes to get things right including how much batter in each pan and how long to cook the smaller but higher cakes.  Any cake recipe will do, if you can live with having a bit left over.  This cake made four 3-inch cakes and the leftover batter went into a six-inch cake pan to make a small snack cake, that vanished almost instantly. So no photo.

     The recipe is based on the amount for a 2-layer cake so you can just use two nine-inch round pans if you don’t have the small ones. It will taste just as good.  Increase by 50 % and use a third pan if you want to be quite grand.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted (you’ll be glad you did this!)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
Plus: 1 recipe of your favorite icing. We used mocha butter cream.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Our cakes have been turning out much better since we invested in an oven thermometer.  Turns out it was running about 25 degrees F less than it was set for!
Butter pans, dust with sifted cocoa to avoid showing flour on sides. Also gives a bit more flavor to cake. 

Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a stand mixer using a low speed until combined.

Add eggs, sour cream, lemon, warm water, oil, vanilla and almond extract. Beat on a medium speed until smooth. This should take just a couple of minutes.

Divide batter among the four 3-inch pans filling just over half full.  Pour remainder into a greased small cake pan for a little snack cake. 

Bake for at 350 F for 30-35 minutes for nine-inch layers.  Or 40 to 45 for small cakes because they are higher.  Use a tester to be sure. 

Cool on wire racks for 15 minutes and then turn out the cakes onto the racks and allow to cool completely.  Flip over and transfer to a plate.   You can freeze these to use later or frost and serve.  We like to split them in half: they cut into two or three layers beautifully.

We have tried fancying them up in a couple of ways: first with the mocha buttercream and second with a good soaking of your favorite liqueur between layers and then slathering with sweetened whipped cream and a bit of grated chocolate.   

This is a particularly good choice if you have frozen cakes and unexpected company because it doesn’t take long to whip the cream. Then you’re a bit of hero.

We loved them both ways and found they could be one cake for a serious cake eater or split between a couple or split four ways for some dainty eaters.  Lots of choices. 

In case you don't know, Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between Mary Jane Maffini and her daughter Victoria. Together we write the book collector mysteries.   We think that reading them is like taking a lovely trip to a mysterious place where books are everything and, yes, murder happens and great meals are served and some relatives are not to be trusted. Of course, justice prevails in the end. You see? You can have your cake and eat it too.

We like to think our book collector mysteries are fun, easy to read and surprising too! Maybe they even have layers!  All five titles are available in print, e-book and audio format. Don't miss out.

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Here are some of MJ's books: set in Canada's capital with feisty lawyer Camilla MacPhee. Trust me,  Jordan doesn't have a monopoly on unusual family and friends.  This series is very well priced now in e-books, but also available in print. 

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and Victoria Abbott


  1. These look so cute. Thanks for sharing! My sister and I are picking out a dessert for Sunday right now by email. :) Heather

  2. Why am I drooling? I just ate breakfast. These are so cute! Love the small cake idea since there are only the two of us at home.

    1. The small ones really work for a couple, Sheila! Hugs. MJ

  3. Now I need to go buy some of the mini cake pans!!! I have as small as 5-inch pans and as large as 16-inch pans but have somehow overlooked the smaller ones. Can you tell I collect cake pans too? Thanks for such a delicious recipe...chocolate is always a favorite :)

    1. I can't stop myself buying them. Glad I'm not alone! Hugs.

  4. I love the idea of a 3-inch cake pan, if they can produce such beautiful mini-cakes as these. They look absolutely scrumptious!

    1. Thanks, Celia! I am quite in love with them. Glad you came by! MJ

  5. What great fun!
    Split between 4 people?! I don't think so!
    You might like the book, Small-Batch Baking by Debby Maugans Nakos.

    1. Well, we did make four of them! A variation for all appetites. Hugs. MJ

  6. Oh, my goodness, I could inhale that little chocolate cake! One of my favorite bakeries in NYC is the Little Pie Company, which also serves mini cakes, and I've got my own mini pan so I'm set for your chocolate heaven. Thanks for sharing the recipe and have a beautiful Mother's Day, Mary Jane and Victoria! xoxo - Cleo

    1. Thanks, Cleo! Hope you have fun with them too. Enjoy the weekend! I hope to visit the Little Pie Company one of these days. Hugs.

  7. Mmmm ..... this reminds me of my Mum's recipe for "Sour Cream Chocolate Cake" but we have never had the cute little pans; have to remedy that! Thanks MJ and Victoria
    from the ever-anonymous Nancy R

  8. oooh! <3 looks like delicious fun!

  9. Something my mom would definitely enjoy, thank you!

  10. Sounds delicious try you ilk make it!