Double Layer Chocolate Cake and…’Not to worry, mum’

I used to have a son, Archie.

No, I still have a son, Archie, it’s just that I don’t see him and I can’t find him.

He’s never here.

Double Layer Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

Sometimes there’s evidence that he’s been home and it’s usually in the bathroom.  The floor will be flooded with water, the bath mat is saturated, there’s shaving mess stuck to the sides of the basin, he’s shed hair all over the white surfaces and there’s been an attempt to hang up a bath towel but not a good one.

I did have a sighting of Archie a few days ago.  He’d been to Uni and was meant to be home for dinner but detoured.  The rugby was on and so I got a text message advising he was off to the pub to watch the match with a few mates.  And ‘not to worry’ about having cooked him dinner because it won’t be wasted – he’ll eat it when he’s home.

Then later there was another text message advising he was bringing a mate home to stay the night and ‘not to worry’ because ‘we’ll be really quiet’.  But I heard them come in.  It was after midnight.  The boy he brought home is Phil, otherwise known as ‘The Big Unit’ because he stands at six feet seven.  He makes Archie look like he was ‘failure to thrive’ because Archie is only six feet one.

They took their boots off at the front door (The Big Unit’s boots are Size 16 and such an uncommon size that all his footwear is imported from the US), and left them there.  They then headed to the kitchen and banged and crashed about heating up the evening meal’s leftovers.

I didn’t see Archie in the morning because he was sleeping in.  I couldn’t get into my lounge room because The Big Unit was in there sleeping on the couch.

The sighting occurred at lunch time when Archie emerged from his room and advised he was just going to cook bacon and eggs for himself and The Big Unit and ‘not to worry’ because he would clean up the mess.  The sighting was very brief because I then had to go out and when I arrived home, Archie and The Big Unit were gone.  There had been an attempt to clean up the mess in the kitchen but like the bath towel, not a good one.

And as for the state of the bathroom…I have no words.

Later, Archie sent me a text message letting me know it was his mate’s birthday (not sure which mate) and they (not sure who ‘they’ are) were going out (not sure where) to celebrate and ‘not to worry’ because he would be staying at either Webb’s or Roy’s.

‘But what about a change of clothes, Archie?’ I asked in a text message, ‘And what are doing for food?’

‘Not to worry, mum, it’s all good.  She’s right, I’ll see you after Uni, love you’, was what came back.

But I didn’t see him after Uni.  There was another text message after Uni last night that said, ‘Not sure when I will be home but will be home at some point.  I will message you when I know but might end up staying at Roy’s but not sure yet’.  And then like a peace offering he added, ‘And I have work tomorrow night by the way. X’   And I know that was a peace offering because we are always at Archie about how he has so much time to socialise yet so little time to work.

And late last night there was another message, ‘Staying at Roy’s.  Will be back tomorrow.  Sorry mum xx’.

Too bad about the Sweet and Sour Pork and the Chicken Parmigiana and the Green Chicken Curry I have cooked for him this week.

Will you be home for chicken parmigiana Archie?

So Archie is expected home any minute.  And he’ll probably be here for about a minute too.  Giving him just enough time to change his clothes and head to work.

I’m scheduling a Sunday night family roast and The Big Unit and Roy and Webb can do without him for an evening – It’s Mummy-time.

Tomorrow is Alfie’s school’s major fundraising.  We’ve all been asked to make something for the cake stall.  As it was raining today and freezing cold (freezing by Sydney standards) I made three of these double layer sour cream chocolate cakes.  They’re not vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, fat-free or sugar-free.  But they are really yummy.

Chocolate curls made by shaving a block of chocolate with a mandolin!

Double Layer Chocolate Cake and...'Not to worry, mum'
Recipe type: Cake
Cuisine: Australian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
A very rich and decadent chocolate cake that makes a wonderful birthday cake.
  • 1½ cups plain flour
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1½ tspns baking powder
  • ¾ tspn baking soda
  • ½ tspn salt
  • 250g (1 cup) sour cream
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 2 tspns vanilla essence
  • 250g (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1⅓ cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Frosting:
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup (250g) cream cheese, whipped
  • 115g (4oz) dark chocolate, melted and cooled (melt over hot water)
  • 1 tspn vanilla
  • 2½ cups icing sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/375F.
  2. Grease and flour two 8-inch (20cm) round cake pans, knocking out excess flour.
  3. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small bowl whisk together sour cream, water and vanilla.
  5. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  6. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  7. Add some flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix well. Add some sour cream mixture. Mix well. Continue this process, ending with the flour mixture. Beat until the batter is smooth. Divide batter between prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  8. Bake layers in middle of oven 25 -30 minutes until cooked.
  9. Cool cakes in their pans on racks for 10 minutes. Turn out onto racks to cool completely.
  10. To Make Frosting:
  11. Using an electric mixer, beat together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until combined. Place one cake on a large plate and spread with about ¾ cup frosting. Put the second cake on top, then spread remaining frosting over the top and sides.

So, tomorrow I’ll be at the school’s fundraiser.  All day.  As in all day.  Can’t wait for that roast Sunday night!

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  1. Dont worry, its a common Gen Y problems, I have it x 3!!

  2. This is a beautiful post Charlie, incredibly endearing. But that chocolate cake is irresistible!!!
    Have a great day at the fundraiser.

  3. Who’s Archie?

  4. Green Dragonette says:

    Hi Charlie,

    Did have a giggle reading this. Don’t know how you have time
    for yourself let alone bake cakes-but it sure looked good!!

  5. My mother has a similar thing going on with my brother, only he appears a bit more often (just randomly) and eats quite a lot of their food! It sounds like Archie has missed out on some good meals. I wonder if this cake would draw him in? I am sure it will be popular at the school – hope the day isn’t too painful for you!

  6. Am not sure if this will make you feel any better (or not)…but at least with mobile phones he can “keep you posted” on his whereabouts…I was a teenager without a mobile phone and I am pretty sure my mum never knew where I was…and you get I love you texts too 🙂 Very sweet. Hope everyone makes it home for Sunday roast…am sure it will be delicious. Your chicken parmigiana looks delicious 🙂

  7. Archie, go home and enjoy the chicken parmigiana and layered cake with your family, or I will! Charlie, thank you for sharing.

  8. A_Boleyn says:

    The boy has missed so many good meals which he’ll look back on regretfully when he’s finally out on his own. Oh well, ‘you’re only young once’, as the saying goes and he seems to be getting twice his share of fun. 🙂

  9. Sophies Foodie Files says:

    ooh lalaaa,..!! He is never home! What a great post! How old is he?
    He missed your great dishes but we know that they are so good & tempting always! 🙂 That stunning chocolate & cream cake looks wonderful!

  10. Hi,
    Your son sounds like the typical teenager. 🙂
    Oh that cake does look nice, as do the meals your son missed out on.

  11. Victoria at Flavors of the Sun says:

    Like so often with your posts, I felt like I could have written it myself about my own son. “Not to worry, Mum” (yes, he uses “mum” and not “mom”). Those famous words we mothers know too well… Great post, Charlie. Made me smile in sympathy. And a great-looking cakes as well

  12. Wow I feel for you my friend but at least Sunday is here 😀
    And Archie is just missing out on both fabulous you and your cooking!
    Gorgeous cake 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  13. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Boys will be boys!
    Decadent looking cake.
    🙂 Mandy

  14. Amy @ says:

    Haha, you have one busy boy! That chocolate cake sounds delicious…i made a chocolate sour cream frosting recently. Isn’t that the greatest combo?

  15. I’m sure the cake will have lots of fans!!! It happens to me sometimes too that I don’t see my parents for days!!! Why doesn’t this let me put my blog???

  16. Not to worry, Mum, it’s all good. And they all learn to pick up after themselves eventually (she says, fingers crossed). Cake looks amazing Charlie, can’t believe you baked three! Don’t you hate it when those damn cake boxes get sent home to be filled? 🙂

  17. One of the first phrases I learned whenI moved to Australia was, “she’ll be right” because I heard it so many times when I’d mention something I was worried about. I’m not programmed for “no worries”. 🙂

    My son was in uni before mobile phones and keeping up with him was a real pain. To keep peace we set up one time a week that he would be home for dinner and no excuses. I don’t think he ever arrived alone. Someone else was always, “really hungry, mom.”

    They would have loved this cake!

  18. GourmetGetaway says:

    What a funny story! I have a 17 year old who is very much the same as your Archie. Luckily he is a good boy so I dont worry. LOL about the bathroom!

  19. Juliet Batten says:

    At least you can laugh about it! This is so typical – but at least he sends you texts and isn’t rude to you. I’m not sure what the box is that you want me to tick, but I think it’s already been done.

  20. Similar story here with our 18 year old, Charlie. He is working through his gap year, so we do see him briefly in the evening when he inhales food before clumping off to his cave. Weekends are another matter. Because we live in a rural area just out of the city (only 30 kms from the CBD, not much by Sydney standards) he generally stays the night with unnamed mates after his football games. What happens between the game and his return home is a mystery to us – and perhaps best that way. 😉

  21. InTolerantChef says:

    Maybe it’s better this way than having bring hungry hordes home for dinner? Imagine feeding several Big Units at a sitting!

  22. “Big Unit” – lol, what a funny name 😀
    The whole thing sounds like me when I was that age – Oh I did enjoy taking off like that. Must have made my parents mental.

    I love the chocolate shavings tip – I’ll have to remember that!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Charles, I finished icing the cakes and they looked a little plain. I was running out of time so had to think of how to dress them up in a hurry. Slicing a bar of cooking chocolate with the mandolin was all I could think of. It actually works really well and gives a great decorative finish. xx

  23. Just a Smidgen says:

    Oh, Charlie.. I laughed (sorry) all the way through because I was sure you’d mistakenly written Archie instead of Phil. I’m living through the same experiences right this moment.. and love their joie de vivre!! I have to admit I’m envious of the fun times these kids are having so spontaneously!! I want to do that too!! I guess we know our cooking is good if they sneak home at night to reheat.. instead of hitting a drive-through:) Will we ever survive?? xoxo Smidge

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Too funny Smidge. I’m sure your Phil and my Archie would get on brilliantly. If he’s ever heading to Canada would you like me to let you know or keep it to myself???

  24. ChgoJohn says:

    Does this ever bring back memories, Charlie, nd could just have easily been written by my Mom a while back. Between work, school, and “social obligations”, I often went days without seeing my family except in passing, if that. My poor Mom!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Oh, your poor mum! But I think we’re all guilty of treating our mums like they’re last in line! xx

  25. Our sons grow up and do get too busy for us, I know too well, Charlie! But a gathering for dinner sounds great, and I hope you have a wonderful time to reacquaint! The cake looks heavenly and I will definitely click back. I think my url shows up when you hover over the avatar, but it looks different to me each time depending on which computer I’ve used to sign on! (Debra, breathelighter).

  26. Great looking cake! There will come a time when he will want to know where you are! You have one consolation he communicates so at least you know nothing terrible has happened! Sunday night dinner use to be sacrosanct in our house when it was full of teenagers – sometimes it was the only time I would get to see them and have “mummy time”.

  27. cityhippyfarmgirl says:

    six foot seven eh? That is a big unit, that would take up a whole lot of your couch.
    Enjoy your lovely roast tonight 🙂

  28. justonecookbook says:

    Hi Charlie. Your story made me cherish my time with two little ones even more. Sometimes I get too tired by hearing mommy, mommy, but I guess it’s the only time that they actually need me. If I live close to you, I could come to your house right away for dinner when you make a big portion of food and Archie won’t be home. =D Beautiful chocolate cake, just like how I see in bakeries!

  29. J Cosmo Newbery says:

    Excellent bait for the trap!

  30. says:

    apart from mandolin, I also use peeler for making that chocolate curls.

    Nice cake BTW

  31. Eva Taylor says:

    I think I’d die if I were that age again! But it was fun!
    The cake looks delicious and likely were the first to be sold! The chocolate shavings look amazing. I usually melt chocolate onto a metal pan and spread out thinly; then I scrape it up with a knife – you get nice big thick curls! But your way sounds much easier.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Eva, yes, they were the first sold. All gone before 9am. I think they way you melt chocolate and then scrape it is a much better and more beautiful way of doing it. I just didn’t have the time so ‘cheated’ and just grabbed a block of cooking chocolate and ran it up and down the mandolin. It worked okay as a quick-fix but yes, your way would have been better! xx

  32. Glamorous Glutton says:

    Oh how I empathise!! I don’t cook for the Glam teens so much unless I know they’ll be here. That constant rushing from friend to friend and then dropping off the laundry can get to you. But somehow they make up for it all when you sit down to a family meal and are regaled with tales of their exploits. Edited I’m sure! GG

  33. Sports Glutton says:

    Oh yes the life of a young man…always in constant motion. However, I think I would have been more than tempted to make enough time for your cooking Charlie. 😉

  34. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    At least he text messages you. Can’t say the same for my 18-year-old. I may have heard Archie and several of his mates early Friday morning. Did he happen to be in a Fargo, North Dakota, hotel, making a lot of noise at 3 a.m.?

  35. Funny story … love that you have random sightings that are fleeting and far between 🙂

  36. Gretchen says:

    I would totally be home if that cake was waiting for me! Or that chicken, or…yeah, having Mom cook is lovely, isn’t it? Problem is, I’m now the mom. Ha. Lately it’s been my husband I’ve barely seen – my kids are too young to run around alone yet but I know my time is coming!!!

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