3-in-1 Layer Cake.

Tardy for the pardy.

This recipe was from a little while ago when we had a birthday in the family. I knew we were having a gathering. Nothing too fancy. It was really just a bite to eat and a catch up. Now I don’t mind being the cake-maker-in-chief. If my nearest and dearest are having a get together I’m usually called upon to bring something in the way of baked goods. But this time nothing had been mentioned. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I was offended or nothing. It had just seemed unusual not to be asked. Perhaps somebody else was doing the honours. Stranger things have happened. And besides, it’s always such a treat to eat a cake that’s been made by anyone who isn’t me. Let somebody else have the pleasure for a change. And then I got a phone call…

“Can you make me a birthday cake, please?”

“Sure, no problem. When do you need it for?”


“Crikey! You mean for the party?”

“Yes. I’m sorry to leave it so late but I wasn’t sure if you had been baking lately. Is that alright?”

“I’ll see what I can do. I haven’t been up to the shops so I might have to use whatever I have in. Leave it with me.”

So I hadn’t been usurped in the bakery department after all. Phew. It was going to be a bit of a rush job, but hey. Just as long as we wouldn’t be eating one of those plastic shop-bought birthday cake jobbies. Everyone’s a winner.

3-in-1 Layer Cake 5
Above The Call Of Duty?

Bowl, deluxe and the three layers.

The idea behind this cake is that you just make one big bowl of cake mixture and then divide it into three smaller batches. By adding slightly different ingredients to each portion of mixture you end up with three distinctly different cake layers. Ahhh. The wondrous alchemy of baking. The basic recipe is for a vanilla cake that on its own would be quite luxurious. But then you split it three ways. Stir treacle and chocolate chunks into the first bowl – this is your cookie dough layer. Stir chopped chocolate biscuits into the second bowl – this is your biscuit layer. Stir cocoa powder into the third bowl – this is your chocolate cake layer. And that’s all there is to it. Three different cakes from the one mix. Sandwich the layers together with vanilla frosting and voila! A quick and simple recipe that will give you a fairy tale ending. Because if somebody has been eating your cake and they’ve eaten it all up. It won’t come as that much of a surprise. This cake is so tasty it will bearly last five minutes.

3-in-1 Layer Cake 3
Three’s A Crowd.

Write of weigh?

There is a simple trick to this cake. As Paul Daniels used to say – you’ll like it. Not a lot. But you’ll like it. And it goes like this. Before you turn on the oven. Before you weigh out the ingredients. Before you do anything at all. You need to weigh your empty mixing bowl and write this number down for later. Then you carry on about your business as normal. You follow the recipe up to the point where the basic cake mixture is done. Then you weigh the whole thing again and write this second number down. All you have to do now is subtract the weight of the empty bowl from the weight of the bowl full of cake mixture. This will give you the weight of the cake mixture. To put it simply:

Bowl plus mixture – empty bowl = mixture.

Are you still with me? I thought I’d better check. It does seem a little bit long-winded when it’s written down. So now you can divide the weight of the cake mixture by three. This will give you the exact weight you need for each layer of cake. If you are not overly excited by this method. If it all seems a bit too trouble-sum. You could (if absolutely necessary, due to laziness) just dollop three roughly similar amounts into three bowls. You will probably end up with randomly sized layers of cake. But as they say in magic circles – the hand is quicker.

3-in-1 Layer Cake 6
Now That’s Magic.

A tin to bake it in.

Or more precisely three tins. And they will all need to be exactly the same. The tins I used are fixed base 23cm sandwich cake tins. I bought mine from eBay for about £2 each. But please, please make sure that you have a good shop around. The self-same tins – not just similar, I mean identical – were all over eBay for anything up to £18 each. And that was 2015 prices, the greedy beggars. Outrageously expensive. If you do struggle to find them at a reasonable price I think that at least one of the pound shops on the high street sells them. There is quite a substantial difference between paying £1 per tin and being stung for eighteen times that amount by money-grabbing profiteers. Just be certain that the depth of each tin is at least 5cm. This turns out to be one hefty beast of a cake. It should feed sixteen people quite easily. Speaking of which. I should point out that the treacle in the cookie dough layer might not be to everyone’s liking. Out of all the people who tried this cake, one or two were not exactly enamoured about how strong it was. If you would prefer you can just switch it out for golden syrup. Either way this cake shouldn’t disappoint. If you need to conjure up a cake at the last-minute why not give it a try. Just stand back and watch in amazement as it disappears before your very eyes. Now here’s that recipe… Enjoy.

23cm Sandwich Tins
23cm Sandwich Tins.

3-in-1 Layer Cake.


  • 480g Plain Four.
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder.
  • 1 ½ tsp Bicarb.
  • ½ tsp Salt.
  • 220g Margarine.
  • 400g Granulated Sugar.
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract.
  • 4 Large Eggs.
  • 220g Greek Yoghurt.
  • 250ml Whole Milk.
  • 30g Treacle.
  • 100g Chocolate Chunks.
  • 150g Bourbon Biscuits (chopped roughly).
  • 40g Cocoa Powder.
  • 750g Icing Sugar.
  • 240g Unsalted Butter.
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla Extract.
  • Up to 100ml Whole Milk.
  • 150g Bourbon Biscuits (cut in half).

    3-in-1 Layer Cake 1
    3-in-1 Layer Cake.


  • Place the shelves in the centre and one up from centre positions of the oven. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Grease and base line three 23cm sandwich tins. Weigh the empty mixing bowl and keep a note.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  • Add the vanilla and beat to combine.
  • Fold in the flour, milk and yoghurt alternately until just combined, taking care not to over mix. (Flour, milk, flour, yoghurt and ending with flour).
  • Weigh the bowl and its contents. Subtract the weight of the empty bowl. You can now divide the mixture evenly into three separate bowls by weight.
  • Into bowl one, fold in the treacle and chocolate chunks until evenly distributed.
  • Into bowl two, fold in the chopped bourbon biscuits.
  • Into bowl three, fold in the cocoa powder until fully combined with no streaks.
  • Place one bowl of mixture into each prepared tin and smooth the surfaces.
  • Place one tin on each shelf making sure they are not directly over each other. Bake for 20 minutes then switch them around and bake for another 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into each cake comes out clean.
  • Bake the third cake layer on the top shelf for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • Cool in the tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • To make the frosting: Beat half the icing sugar with the butter, vanilla extract and 50ml of milk on a low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth.
  • Add the remaining icing sugar and beat on a low speed until combined. Increase the speed and beat until light and fluffy. If the frosting is too stiff you can add the remaining milk a teaspoon at a time until the mixture is thick but spreadable.
  • Place a layer of cake onto a serving plate followed by a third of the frosting and build upwards until all the layers and frosting are used.
  • Press the halved biscuits into the frosting to form a neat circle around the edge of the cake.

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