Paleo Cake Recipe
About 5 years ago, when my oldest nephew was turning 14, I had the ambitious idea to make him a 14-layer cake for the occasion. Surprisingly, the cake turned out great and didn’t fall over when I carried it from the kitchen to the table. We all ate it and enjoyed it and marveled at all the layers when we cut into it and that was that. As the years passed, the cake became a distance memory.
Paleo became our thing so the cake wasn’t even an option anyway. Well, you know I couldn’t just let it end like that. About 3-4 months ago, the idea of the 14-layer cake popped back into my head and I couldn’t get it out. Naturally, I would wait until the month of January, while everyone is on a Whole30 and when I’ve decided to do keto, to take on this challenge.
But it had to be done, and I’m so glad I did it. I couldn’t sleep at night, thinking about how to assemble, decorate, and build this cake. Now that it’s done, I’m sleeping like a baby again.
Don’t let the sheer number of ingredients and steps scare you away. I’m just trying to be thorough in the explanation. It’s definitely best to read through the entire recipe so you know what lies ahead for you if you decide to make this (which you should do at least once in your life). The thing that’s so great about this cake (besides the fact that it tastes great) is that it’s a surprise when you cut into it. You would look at this and expect 3, maybe 4, layers inside. But 14? Wow!
The 14 Layer Cake
A chocolate and strawberry 14-layer cake is pretty much the most perfect Valentine’s Day dessert, wouldn’t you say? 14 layers on the 14th. Perfect. Also worth mentioning, the combination of the chocolate and almond buttercream frostings tastes exactly like a swirled ice cream cone. Mmhmm, you’re welcome.
Step by Step Photos
For those of you visual people, before we get down to the actual recipe, here are some step-by-step photos to help you visualize the process.
The easiest way to bake the cakes is in disposable 9″ cake pans, that way you can prep all the pans and have them ready instead of washing out the pans each time for each batch.
Lightly coat the bottom of the 9″ pans with shortening or oil (I use avocado oil for ease). Line each pan with a parchment circle cut to size (or purchase pre-cut parchment rounds, which makes it much easier and faster). Then lightly oil the parchment paper. This is all to be sure your cake comes out of the pans easily and without sticking.
With the pans prepared, mix the cake batter. Divide the batter evenly between all 14 pans. This is about 3/4-ish cups (I use a large cookie scoop and put 3 scoops in each pan).
Gently tap each pan on the counter to smooth the batter to the edges. If that doesn’t work, use the back of a spoon to press and spread the batter evenly in the pan. Bake in batches in the preheated oven. Place no more than 5 pans in at one time, staggering the pans on the oven shelves so they are not directly over each other.
Cool the baked cakes on a wire until cool (it won’t take long since they’re so thin), then gently invert the pan to remove the cake. Carefully peel the parchment off the bottom of the cakes. I lay paper towels on the counter and line up all the cooled cakes so they are ready to be stacked.
Start layering the cakes/filling/ganache. I started with chocolate but it’s best to start with strawberry so you end with a ganache layer on top, which makes frosting the cake easier. Also, if you prefer not to frost it at all, you can just drizzle any remaining ganache around all sides of the cake.
As you’re layering the cake, gently set the new layer on top and adjusting/sliding the layers to be sure they remain even and aren’t sliding off to one side (resulting in a lopsided cake that could topple over). Once all the layers are added, place a wooden skewer in the cake to keep the layers even. Refrigerate the cake to set the layers.
If you want to add frosting (which I highly recommend), once the cake is cooled and the ganache and strawberry filling have set and hardened a bit, add a crumb coat of chocolate frosting. This will make the final layer of frosting much easier to apply. Refrigerate the crumb-coated cake until it has crusted over (doesn’t stick to your finger when you touch it and has a slight crunch).
Once your crumb coat is ready, add blobs of the white (almond) frosting with an offset spatula in a random pattern all around the cake. Fill in the blank spots with some of the chocolate frosting. Using a bench scraper, lightly drag it along the cake to blend the two frostings. You can see a tutorial on this method here.
If you have any gaping areas, fill it with the color that’s lacking (in my case, white) and run the “cleaned off” bench scraper over it again. Repeat the process on the top of the cake.
Decorate the frosted cake as desired. I used strawberries with the tops cut off and piped the white frosting in between them. and more along the bottom (which also helps to hide any imperfections along the bottom edge of the frosting).
Use a sharp, hot knife to slice through the cake. Carefully remove the slice and show off all those gorgeous layers.