Thanks guys. The bubbles were big and I think you're both right about the second layer being too close to the source. my batter ended up being pretty dense...almost like a brownie, but since i've never tried the recipe before, i don't exactly know what to expect. here it is for those interested....
From: The All American Cowboy Cookbook by Ken Beck and Jim Clark
(I'd recommend it if you're a country western fan, becuase it's got lots of recipes from people like Roy Rogers, Clint Eastwood, Gene Autry, etc...)
Pecos River Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar (I used splenda)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's special dark cocoa)
1/2 cup vegetable oil or soft margarine
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
I also added about 2 tbs cinnamon (cinnamon and dark chocolate in my opinion go really well together)
Grease and flour 2 layer pans (preferably glass) (--I used tin). Preheat the oven to 375. Mix flour , sugar, salt, baking soda, and cocoa. Add oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Beat well and pour into pans. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes (mine didn't take this long so I would suggest watching them closely) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Combine remaining ingredients until well-blended. Frost cake as desired. Makes 8 to 10 servings.
They have the following recipe for frosting but I did something different:
2 2/3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/3 cup solid shortening
3 tablespoons butter
3 to 4 tablespoons strong coffee
My frosting recipe (which admittedly needs work as I've never really made frosting before). I got sort of inspired by a joy of cooking quick brown sugar recipe for frosting....but didn't have all the ingredients so i made things up as i went along...I really don't have the amounts for this, but if you guys are all bakers, I'm sure you could do far better than me. Here are the ingredients I used....
dark chocolate cocoa
I combined the ingredients then put the frosting in a steel bowl over a pot with about a 1/2 cup water in it. I was really trying to make a glaze with the whole thing. Would also suggest brandy for the frosting/glaze. Melt the glaze over the cake....it's gorgeous but the consistency needs to be worked on.