Far From Normal Cake

Our mother was not the only Far From Normal person in the family. No, upon occasion, my sister Lindy and I manage to vacation in the Far From Normal world and the Friday after Thanksgiving was one of those moments.

It began with me innocently 12 Layer Cakeseeking a recipe on Pinterest that would astonish my entire family. So the Pinterest search began.

I was not looking for just an ordinary recipe–this was a special time since not only would my sister Lindy and her daughter Fiona be joining us, but so would other family members from several different states.

After much perusing of ideas, I finally settled on a twelve layer cake.  The twelve layer cake would be spectacular and very impressive, and since it was two weeks before Lindy’s birthday, it would be a nice surprise for her as well.

Little did I know how much of a surprise it would be.

I followed every direction, unlike Mother who would have changed several things around.  I baked all twelve layers in twelve disposable pans, just like the recipe suggested.

Once the layers were baked, I allowed them to cool for the recommended amount of time.  I cooked the chocolate glaze and allowed it to cool before attempting to stack the first layer.

The first layer went fine and I poured on the chocolate.

Next I set the second layer on top of the first and poured some more chocolate.  On about the fourth layer, one of the earlier layers started to slip out of the stack.  I kept trying to push any wayward cake layers back in, but it was to no avail.  My hands were covered with frosting from lifting the layers, and my family was no help as they compared the cake layers to pancakes–which they did closely resemble.

Finally the last layer was placed on the top and I poured the remainder of the chocolate glaze over it.  The cake looked nothing like the picture I had on my computer.  My family was calling it the “Twelve Layer Tornado” and the “Chocolate Eruption.”  None of these names fazed me since I knew that the finished product would be delicious.  I wasn’t even fazed when the layers again began making a break for it and Cousin Beverly had to firmly guide them back to the correct position.

When I cut the cake, it looked NOTHING like the picture up above.

12 Layer Coma Cake

This is the cake we made the day after Thanksgiving. Eating it put us in comas.

Rather, we had this.

I served a giant slice to each “willing” relative and they attempted to choke it down. This was a more difficult undertaking than expected.

First of all, despite a recipe that included a pound of butter and six cups of sugar, it was extremely dry.

Second, it tasted like just what it looked like–pancakes.

Everyone started complaining about being forced to eat twelve layers of pancakes and we swiftly decided to throw the remaining twelve layers away.

I had spent over two long hours making this cake and in less than ten minutes my self-esteem was destroyed by some pretty pointed comments.  After a few bites, however, the comments stopped…and the cake-induced coma set in.

Shortly after the coma-like states began to wear off, several people claimed to be sick and our family tradition of playing games almost didn’t get off the ground.  Thus, this cake is now renamed the Far From Normal Cake.

Here is the recipe for Far From Normal Cake:


  •     4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , sifted
  •     1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter , at room temperature
  •     2 1/2 cups sugar
  •     6 large eggs , at room temperature
  •     3 cups milk
  •     1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •     3 cups sugar
  •     1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder , preferably Dutch process
  •     1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut up
  •     1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  •     1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  • Position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375°
  • Lightly butter four 8 1/2- to 9-inch cake pans (you will bake the cakes in three batches) and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper
  • Flour the pans and tap out the excess
  • To make the layers, sift together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the mixture one more time, and set aside
  • Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes
  • Beat in the eggs, one at a time
  • Scrape down the bowl and be sure the mixture is well-blended
  • On low speed, add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula
  • Beat in the vanilla
  • Using a scant cup for each layer, spread the batter evenly in the pans. It will make a thin layer.
  • Staggering the pans on the racks so they are at least 2 inches from each other and the sides of the oven and not directly over each other, bake the layers until they feel firm when pressed in the centers and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 12 minutes
  • Cool in the pans for 5 minutes
  • Invert the layers onto cake racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely
  • Wash and prepare the pans
  • Repeat the procedure until all 12 layers have been baked and cooled


  • Bring the sugar, cocoa, butter and evaporated milk to a full boil in a large saucepan
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the icing has thickened slightly (it will resemble chocolate syrup but will thicken as it cools), about 3 minutes
  • Stir in the vanilla
  • Let the icing cool until thick enough to spread, but still pourable

Putting It All Together:

  • Place a layer of cake down
  • Spread with a few tablespoons of the icing, letting the excess run down the sides
  • Stack the remaining cakes, icing each layer
  • Pour the remaining icing over the top of the cake. If you wish, smooth the icing on the edges to cover the sides
  • Let stand until the glaze sets

The cake is best served the day it is made. To store, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.


  1. That looks awful. No wonder cousin Beverly is heading back to California.

  2. Cousin Beverly can’t wait to escape; however, I am sending her home with some Twelve Layer Cake. (It slipped easily into her suitcase and an airplane ride will possibility improve it!)

  3. Lindy Riverside says:

    Hey! If you wish to make the same “cake”, I have an easy solution. Buy one dozen frozen pancakes and one can of Hershey’s Syrup. Return home and defrost the pancakes. Begin layering with a drizzle of the chocolate syrup on each pancake. Try hard to keep them from sliding off your plate. This is more difficult than one might think. Continue layering and syrupping. When you have completed this process, begin to cut and serve each victim, I mean guest a large piece. Hopefully your home has plenty of bathrooms “just in case.”

    • My suggestion: Think of the “Twelve Days of Christmas” and make one layer each day. This will give you time to rest and ponder what to do next. Maybe you do not follow directions very well. ….Are YOU “Far From Normal”?Maybe you should mix a little wax in that chocolate and then remove it from the pan…. Your cake is NOT appealing.!! Yikes! ! I never did like pancakes. with chocolate!! Do not send any to me!!!Thanks….

  4. Mary Berner says:

    This reminds me of the time I was 13 and decided to make a “from scratch” cherry pie. We had sour cherry trees, and I picked enough for a pie. Unfortunately we did not have enough flour so I used pancake flour. Well, the filling was good but the crust was horrible and like rock. Dear Grandfather said, ” don’t discourage her, someday she will make something we can eat!” Hang in there Abby.

  5. Diane Frost says:

    Here are my tips for trying to stay on the Normal side….
    1) Never make a recipe that you can not print on a sticky memo note! 2) If there are more than 5 ingredients, buy it already done at your local bakery.

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