A beautiful, small-batch slice of layer cake with an easy 3-ingredient frosting that can be made in under one hour!
This, to me, is the quintessential idea of a birthday treat when you don’t have time to make something elaborate, and perhaps you’re also not baking for a crowd. This is the perfect, singular portioned cake that can be made in under an hour!
How to make a single slice of layer cake
The key to make a single slice of a layer cake is simply to bake a single cake layer (either an 8 or 9″ pan works) and slice the layer into even wedges that can be stacked on top of each other.
You’ll start by baking a beautifully chocolatey cake that happens to be eggless, which will take around 20 minutes. While the cake is cooling, you can throw together an easy and fast 3-ingredient frosting with just yogurt, cocoa powder, and sugar.
All that’s left is assembling the slice and adding any decorations you like! I tend to just stack 5 layers and I use the last layer to either crumble and press into the back of the cake, or to cut a little decorative shapes from.
How to bake flat cake layers
For this style of cake, baking a flat cake layer is extremely important so the cake stacks perfectly without sliding off at an angle. My favorite way of baking flat cake layers is using a cake strip, which helps regulate the temperature between the outside of the cake pan and the interior. You can find my tutorial on how to make your own DIY cake strips here!
For other “single-serving” birthday treat ideas, I also considered these:
- XXL huge buttery sugar cookie from Sally’s Baking Addiction
- Mini Tin Can Birthday Cake from The Baker Chick
- Something along the lines of a single cupcake
- Cake balls
- Microwave brownie cake
A perfect single slice of chocolate layer cake
For the cake
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek or regular yogurt
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the frosting
- 1/2 cup plain Greek or regular yogurt
- 2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar or other sweetener
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 8 or 9” cake pan well.
- Whisk together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add 1/4 cup warm water, milk, yogurt, oil, and vanilla and stir until smooth (don’t overmix).
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake, rotating once, until tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 18 minutes for a 9” pan.
- Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely. Alternatively, throw in the freezer until bottom is cold, then remove from pan.
- To make frosting: stir the sugar and cocoa powder into the yogurt until smooth. This works best if you sift the cocoa powder first to avoid lumps, but is not necessary.
- To assemble, cut cooled cake layer into six wedges. Spread frosting between layers and along the back of the cake, if you wish. I only used five wedges to make five layers and crumbled the remaining piece to decorate the back of the cake. You could also use the remaining layer to make a cake ball, or stamp into cake shapes, or eat.
Did you try this recipe?Tag @thepancakeprincess on Instagram!
P.P.S: This one-bowl mac ‘n cheese is amazing.
This. Is. Genius. Making this ASAP.
Oh, and if I use white whole wheat flour, it’s totally good for breakfast, right? Right.
So agree! I like the way you think, June! 🙂 Thanks for all the sweet comments and let me know what you think if you try this out!! <3
What an awesome idea! I must make this sometime…springtime is birthday time in my family!
Yes, let me know how it goes if you do!! <3
I am so glad I have come across your blog! Your pancake creations look soooo good, I an tempted to lick my computer screen!!!
ANywhos, I am so excited to try this cake for my boyfriends birthday, but just a couple of qs:
1. in the cake ingredients, when you say 2 tablesppons milk do you mean buttermilk?
2. What happend to the yoghurt in the cake ingredients? Do I add that into the batter as well?
So sorry–that was really sloppy recipe writing on my part! Just add the milk + yogurt to the mixture of wet ingredients–everything goes into the batter 🙂 The recipe should be fixed now–thanks so much for catching and I hope you like it!! 🙂
Jackie @ Vegan Yack Attack!
I love the idea of this! Far too often do my family and I have cakes for special occasions and not finish them. This is the perfect way to give someone a special dessert without wasting food!
this is so interesting – making a single piece never even occurred to me but I’m definitely going to try it out and the strips too!
Ooh great! Let me know how it goes if you try it!
These photos – I love!! Truly made me want to go to a birthday party and stick on a party hat. This cake looks phenom and you are freaking clever! Could definitely implement this plan on a day where ya just need a piece of cake. And trust, that happens all too often… 😉
Haha aw thanks Katie! Yes, agree–it totally does 🙂
I really love this idea !!
What a fantastic idea! It makes so much sense, the amount of times there’s been too much cake left over and it’s gone dry and I’ve had to through it out!
Thanks! I hope you get a chance to try it out 🙂
Elise @ Paint Chips & Frosting
This is perfect! I also wanted to let you know that your RSS link isn’t working (I had the same problem, and I had to set up the feed at feedburner.com and then link the image to my blog feed at feeds.feedburner.com/blogname).
Thank you SO much Elise! I honestly don’t really know what an RSS feed does, but I tried following your instructions…if you have a free minute, will you let me know if it works now? Thanks again!
Elise @ Paint Chips & Frosting
Hey Erika, it still seems to have the same problem :/ A feed basically lets a person read all of the posts from blogs they follow in one place, using a reader. I used to use google reader, but switched to bloglovin which doesn’t require a feed, and I love it! If you go into the widget that has your social media icons, and change the URL connected to the RSS image to http://feeds.feedburner.com/ThePancakePrincess instead of pancakeprincess.com/feed, it should work! I hope that helps!
Ahh thank you so much! I just changed it and hopefully it works. You are the best, thank you so much for helping me fix it!!
Alex @ Brain, Body, Because
Oh my god, this is possibly one of the most brilliant things that I have ever seen.
It looks GORGEOUS! I think it’s the best birthday gift ever.
Thanks Alex! I agree. I’m down with cupcakes, but layer cake is just the absolute best birthday treat, in my opinion!
Erika! I just love this idea! It looks so amazing in all it’s chocolate glory..layer after layer! Such a fantastic idea and um, I’d have no problem eating the entire thing at once…SERIOUSLY. I’ve seen a million of the “cake in a mug” or single cake in the microwave..but never seen a single layer cake. I love it girl!! So purrrty!!
Haha aww thanks Brandi…and secretly, me too. No problem AT ALL eating this entire thing! So bad!
Oh my! This is the grandest ever! Thousand times yummy !!!!
Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
YOU’RE GENIUS! This is brilliant.
Seriously Erika…YOU ARE A GENIUS! This is perfect! I really love this idea!
Thanks Kenley! You’re so sweet 🙂
Katie (The Muffin Myth)
Um, total genius. I love this idea. And yeah, yoghurt shouldn’t have to have thickeners added, but pectin is better than gelatin (gross!). I’d never get away with making my husband just a single slice of cake, but next time I’ve got a single lady weekend this is on my radar. Thanks for the recipe!
Haha yay! This would definitely be big enough to share, but I like your style 😉 That would make you one seriously cool single lady! Boo. Good to know…that’s so gross, I can’t believe people put gelatin in yogurt! Ew, gotta keep an eye out for that one if I continue my trashy streak :/
Such a great idea! Thanks for sharing it. I have been wanting to make a layer cake for such a long time, but it involves SO MUCH CAKE. I will definitely have to try this 😀
Yay! I hope you do. I totally agree–way too much cake to manageably make as often as I would like 🙂 Let me know how it goes if you try it!
Wow, this cake looks awesome! So cute too 🙂
Thanks Lilly Sue 🙂 Cute just like your name!
wow it is 5 layers of decadence….I noted that it did not last long…yogurt has to be the special ingredient here.
Yup…4 too many layers of decadence maybe? NOT. Yes, yogurt makes for such easy frosting!
this is brilliant!!! I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts, I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one laughing hysterically at your writing. the next time i’m feeling sad i’m going to whip up this pretty little layer cake made so simple thanks to you, and i’ll prob eat the whole thing regardless of the calorie bomb. take THAT, trashy eating.
Lianna, you are such an ego boost! Stop it. It’s going to get inflated, and I don’t need any extra pounds AT ALL. Ha, call me up when you do! I’d love to attend this calorie bomb cake eating fest. I’m also great at listening and saying useless things when people are sad. Anyway, trashy eating what?
Natasha @ The Cake Merchant
I LOVE this! Such a cute and unique idea. I will definitely have to try this, since I share your love of layer cakes!
Yay, I adore our bond over layer cakes. Can’t wait to see your next one! I took some inspiration from you while photographing this post 🙂
Choc Chip Uru
You are wonderful my friend – a killer recipe to boot and perfect slices!
Thank you 🙂
Choc Chip Uru
Thanks Uru 🙂
This is brilliant and that is one B-E-A-utiful piece of 5 layer cake!! Loooove your photo styling – especially the brightly colored background! I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one that’s been eating “trashy.” I better hurry up and make this before our next month of Paleo haha. Oh and I can’t wait to hear your tip for baking level cakes!!
Aww thanks Leah. And omg! Trash eating to the max! Literally, what is wrong with me. I don’t know, except maybe it’s because it’s that time of month. Ughh. At least this will be over soon, and hopefully my trashy eating will leave with it! Let me know if you have any tips for cutting those trashy cravings! SO EXCITED FOR ANOTHER PALEO MONTH! 🙂
Nancy @ gottagetbaked
Erika, you.are.brilliant. Full stop. Why has no one thought of this?! I CAN bake my cake and eat the whole thing too 😉 Although, I usually just bake a ginormous cake and proceed to eat the entire thing. No biggee. Your photos are gorgeous (it helps when there’s a deep, dark, rich, decadent 5 layer slice of cake as the star). I love this styling – the patterned paper is adorable and is putting me in the party mood. Who cares if it’s a party for one when there’s cake that looks this good?
Oh stopp. But right?! I was googling and googling, but couldn’t find any other ideas for making just one slice of layer cake! Lol I like your style. Let’s bake cake sometime? Haha partyy!!
Kaylie @ Skinny Muffin
Hi. You’re a genius. My birthday is in October. Fancy to send me one of these bad boys? 😉
Um, yes. I don’t know how well it will travel but if it gets ruined, just hop on a plane and I’ll make you another 🙂 Also, why is EVERYONE’S BIRTHDAY NOT IN SPRING? I want to make this for everyone!
I haven’t read the recipe jet, only saw all that chocolate!! My I come over for a slice? 😉
Of course! Please do, I would LOVE to have an excuse to make it again 🙂
Genius! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for reading! 🙂
sally @ sallys baking addiction
thanks for linking up to my cookie 🙂 I love this idea Erika. So many sprinkles! And chocolate! I love baking with yogurt. 🙂
Thanks Sally! I had my heart set on your cookie! I’ve made it before and it was fantastic…I just totally ran out of time 🙁 There are so many things on your site I have bookmarked to make!!
That’s a perfect single slice of heaven right there! I love that you scaled back a delicious dessert so in spite of my desire to eat an entire cake, I have one perfect slice to savor and enjoy! Beautiful!
Haha right? I feel your desire to eat an entire cake, believe me. Hello built in portion control! 🙂
“You would probably explode.” <<– Ummm that is probably an Erika problem, not a Laura problem.
I could eat cake to infinity, especially if its FUNFETTIIIIIAJAJkaks
Laura. Who are you. You are a stick.
This is genius!!!! I’m going to try this for… whoevers birthday is coming next. Or actually, i’ll just try it for myself first. Haha! Thanks for sharing!
Lol DO! You should definitely try this out before gifting 😉 I actually did…when I first made this, I made two slices! Gave one away and still have one in the freezer…tis awesome 🙂
I love this recipe! What a super idea. Thanks for sharing 😉
Thanks Eva 🙂 Not my healthiest, but I thought it was fun 🙂