Cakespy: 12-Layer Holiday Cake Recipe

Photographs and original illustrations: Cakespy

Jessie Oleson (aka Cakespy) drops by every Monday to share a delicious dessert recipe. —The Mgmt.

Whoever said that size doesn't matter clearly stuck with cakes that were, like, seven layers or fewer.

But here's a treat to power you through the holiday season: a towering 12-layer red and green Christmas cake. Why twelve layers? Why, one for each day of Christmas, of course!

A riff on Maryland's official state cake, the Smith Island Cake, this red-and-green confection is brimming with holiday cheer, and butter. Serve in slender slivers, because a little goes a long way with this sugary splendor.

Note: To avoid confusion, I should say that though it takes cues from both, this cake is neither a Red Velvet cake (it does not contain cocoa) nor truly a traditional Smith Island cake (the cake part is, but the icing is traditionally chocolate). Consider it a holiday mash-up, with liberties taken on both cakes to make for a festive holiday look.

Recipe Facts



Total: 3 hrs
Serves: 12 to 20 servings

Rate & Comment


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, lightly softened and cut into cubes
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • red food coloring, to taste (optional)
  • For the frosting
  • 3 sticks butter, softened
  • 8-10 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons peppermint extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (you may end up using less)
  • green food coloring, to taste (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare 6 parchment circles sized to fit your 8-inch circle pans (I used each of the 6 circles twice).

  2. Cream together sugar and butter.

  3. Add eggs one at a time and beat until smooth.

  4. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.

  5. Mix into egg mixture one cup at a time.

  6. With mixer running, slowly pour in the evaporated milk, then the vanilla and milk, mixing just until incorporated.

  7. Put a small amount of cake batter into the parchment-lined pans, using the back of the spoon to spread evenly. You will only spread enough so that it covers the pan and is not see-through.

  8. Bake as many as three layers at a time on the middle rack of the oven 8 minutes or until just beginning to darken on the edges. I only had two pans, so I would turn out a batch and keep repeating the process until all the layers had baked.

  9. Allow your layers to cool to room temperature.

  10. Meanwhile, make your buttercream. In a large bowl, mix butter until creamy and fluffy. Add 3-4 cups of confectioners' sugar and cream until fluffy. Blend extract and 1/4 cup milk into the mixture. Gradually stir remaining milk and confectioners' sugar into the mixture until it has reached your desired consistency.

  11. Assemble your cake. Place your first cake layer on a plate, and spread a thin layer of frosting on top. Place the second layer on top, and repeat. Repeat with the remaining layers.

  12. Once your top layer is adhered, if necessary, insert wooden sticks or skewers into the cake so that it stays straight. If desired, using a large knife, trim the sides of the cake so that your circle is round and perfect.

  13. Coat the cake with a "crumb coat" of frosting. Let it set for a few minutes (you can nibble on the bits you've trimmed off to keep yourself occupied).

  14. Frost the cake generously with the remaining frosting, and decorate with sprinkles, piped frosting, or however you'd like. I found that putting my finished cake in the fridge for about 20 minutes helped it set to the point where it didn't slide around when cut into.

Special equipment

8-inch cake pans (as many as you have); parchment paper for lining pans; offset spatula for frosting