10 little layers of moist and tender yellow cake, filled and frosted with the best boiled chocolate frosting. It’s extremely fudgy and decadent. Lydia’s 10-Layer Chocolate Cake is a Southern classic!
A tried and true recipe that’s been handed down for generations! It’s the famous “little layers” cake which isn’t really little. The 10 layers make for an impressive dessert that looks super fancy, yet simple to make.
This special recipe comes from Mrs. Lydia Andrews of Perry, FL. Her mother-in-law taught her how to make it and she’s been making it for over 50 years. She says it’s a family favorite that is perfect for special occasions like Christmas, New Year’s and family reunions. When a cake has been made for over 100 years, you know it’s got to be good!
Note: If you count the layers in this photo, you will see that I actually made TWELVE layers. I would not recommend this as there is not enough frosting that way. Take it from me, stick with Lydia’s instructions for 10 layers and it will turn out great.
How to make a 10-layer chocolate cake
This is just an overview, the full recipe is towards the bottom of this post.
- First you need 10 cake pans. These 8.5″ x 1.5″ foil pans work great. They carry them at most grocery stores.
- Spray the pans with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Make your cake batter and divide equally into prepared pans. Bake as directed. Let cool.
- Prepare the boiled chocolate frosting, stirring constantly until thickened. Let cool slightly.
- Fill all ten layers using about 1/3 cup of frosting on each cake layer.
- Pour remaining frosting on top and down sides of cake. Smooth edges with offset spatula. Chill until set.
• Room Temperature Ingredients – for best results, always use room temperature ingredients for most baking projects. Chilled ingredients mix differently and affect the consistency of the recipe.
• Evaporated Milk – the recipe calls for two small cans of evaporated milk. Carnation brand makes a 5 oz. can, so you would need two of those. If you can’t find them, just measure out 1 1/4 cups of evaporated milk (any brand).
• Parchment Paper – if you want to make sure the cakes do not stick to the pan, cut 10 parchment paper circles to fit the pans. Spray non-stick cooking spray before and after placing the parchment paper. If you’re in a hurry, try using Baker’s Joy non-stick cooking spray and spray it generously on the pans before adding cake batter.
• Boiled Icing – timing is important in this recipe. Make the cakes first, then start the icing while they are baking. By the time your cakes cool, the icing should be the right consistency for icing the cake. Don’t pour it on the cake when it’s hot because it will be too liquidy. But you also don’t want it completely cold because then it’s too thick. Full disclosure: It’s a little tricky to work with but so worth it because it has a unique and wonderful flavor and texture that’s very different from regular chocolate frosting or even ganache.
• Heavy Saucepan – use a heavy saucepan for the frosting. I prefer an enameled cast iron dutch oven to make the boiled icing. Le Creueset is a very good brand but also pricey. Try the Crock Pot brand for a more economical price.
Variations of this recipe
• Different flavors of cake – since this recipe uses a mix for the cake layers, you could easily substitute a different flavor. Try a chocolate, strawberry or red velvet mix. You could even color the layers in rainbow colors to make a colorful cake for the kids.
• 5 Layer cake – Lydia sometimes makes her cake in 5 layers instead of 10. Just half the recipe.
This is cake tastes best served at room temperature.
After you fill and frost the cake, you might want to put it in the refrigerator to let the boiled icing set for 30 minutes to an hour. Then take it out of the refrigerator and let it sit on counter for a bit before serving. You don’t want to eat it cold.
Store the cake covered, at room temperature for up to 3-5 days.
A little more about Lydia Andrews. She is 91 years young and the mother-in-law of my mom’s good friend, Marie. Thank you to Lydia and Marie for many calls and emails to discuss the recipe for this extra special cake. I’ll never forget the first time I tried Lydia’s 10-Layer Chocolate Cake. It was a New Year’s Day party in Tallahassee and the cake had created a buzz. Everyone kept saying to me, have you tried Lydia’s cake yet? You must try it, they would say. And boy were they right. It’s the talk of the town.
We love Southern cake recipes and I’ve blogged about quite a few over the years, including Granny’s Homemade Pound Cake or Alabama Lane Cake or Aunt Emily’s Chocolate Fudge Cake. Check out my Cakes & Pies section for more great vintage cake recipes!
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Lydia's 10-Layer Chocolate Cake
For the cake
- 2 boxes yellow cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Butter Golden - 15.25 oz each box)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (or 1 stick, plus 6 tablespoons)
For the boiled chocolate frosting
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 squares unsweetened chocolate bar (or 2 ounces)
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 small cans evaporated milk (10 ounces total)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (or 2 sticks of butter)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 sprinkles cinnamon
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray ten 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. (I used the aluminum, disposable pans which I wash and resuse.) Set aside.
- In a large bowl, place cake mixes, water, eggs and 14 tablespoons softened butter. With an electric mixer, beat on low until combined. Then turn mixer up to medium high and beat for 2 minutes. Divide batter equally among the ten prepared pans. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool.
For the boiled chocolate frosting
- In a heavy saucepan, place sugar and cocoa, milk and 2 sticks butter. Turn heat to medium. While stirring constantly, bring to a boil approximately 3 minutes - or test by dropping into cold water. Add vanilla extract and cinnamon. Stir until combined. Remove from heat.
- Fill and frost cake as soon as layers are cool enough to handle. Place in refrigerator to set for about an hour. (You might have a little icing creating a puddle at the base of the cake. If this happens, let it chill, then carefully remove the extra icing around the edges with a small spatula or butter knife.) Serve at room temperature. Store covered, on counter for up to 3 days.
All text and images © Lise Ode for Mom Loves Baking. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe. Disclaimer: Nutrition information shown is not guaranteed to be accurate. This post may contain affiliate links.