Monday, May 28, 2012

Mini Cake- Small Batch Baking!

And birthday season continues!  Today I want to share a mini birthday cake I made for my Auntie Judy.  I brought this to our family's Memorial Day/Auntie's birthday cookout.  After loads of grilled meats, veggies, salads and fresh corn on the cob, I knew a huge slab of cake wouldn't be on the top of everyone's dessert wish list...a nice bowl of fresh berries with cool whip was more like it!  But, what is a birthday without a little cake?!

For this cake, I didn't want to make a full batch of batter and frosting and have tons of leftovers, so I researched some recipes and adapted a couple from Country Living for this 'small batch' project and the result was perfect.

The following recipe makes a two-layer 4" cake and enough frosting to generously cover the mini-cake.  Both recipes follow steps that are different from what I typically do when baking, which made it fun.  The frosting comes out super creamy and light- I love it!  I didn't like the extra buttery flavor, so added in some vanilla and it was perfect.  I filled this mini-cake with raspberry preserves and it was the perfect summer cake to pair with Grammy's berries and cool whip.

For the finishing decorative touch, I covered the whole cake in old school multi-color sprinkles before piping a "J" for Judy on top. I just love the whimsy of white frosting, bright sprinkles and birthday candles.  Perfect!

Do you have any small-batch baking recipes?  Let me know in the comments below!

Mini vanilla cake (makes one two-layer, 4" cake)
Adapted from this Country Living Basic Vanilla Cake recipe

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Spray two 4" cake pans with non-stick spray
  • Mix flour, baking powder and salt in large mixing bowl
  • Beat in the butter, one small spoonful at a time until the mixture looks like coarse sand
  • Beat in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture looks like fine, damp sand (NOTE- make sure to scrape down the bowl a few times, especially the bottom.)
  • Beat in the egg
  • Beat in the vanilla and milk on medium-high, until just blended.  Do not overmix!!
  • Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes
  • Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then completely out of the pans.

  • 1/4 c. melted unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 3/4 c. confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Beat the 1/4 c. melted butter with the confectioner's sugar, salt, milk, lemon juice and vanilla in a mixing bowl on medium-high. 
  • Beat in the 1/4 c. cold butter, one small piece at a time, mixing well after each piece.
  • Use immediately, or chill. If you put this in the fridge and use it later, let it sit out for 5-10 minutes, then whip with a little extra milk or vanilla to make it 'fluffy' before using.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pimm's Cup Cupcakes!

One of my favorite gifts I've received was given to me twice, separately by two different friends: copies of a cookbook called "Booze Cakes."  it's a cute little book packed with recipes for sweets that are inspired by popular "adult beverages" or are traditionally made with spirits.  I think my annual Carbomb Cupcakes are what's inspired the purchase by both friends, as I love the idea of bringing cocktail favors into dessert.  My favorite recipe in the book is for chocolate merlot cake bites, but I will save that for another time.  Today I want to share a recipe that I made up myself for Cupcake Camp 2012, inspired by my Booze Cakes book- Pimm's Cup mini cupcakes.  Cupcake Camp was a blast and I will be sharing a recap soon!

A Pimm's Cup is a traditional and refreshing spring/summer cocktail that mixes Pimm's #1 licqueur with lemonade and or ginger ale, and is topped with a variety of garnishes, usually mint and cucumber.  I am excited to share my dessert version- Pimm's Cake with Pink Lemonade buttercream and a minted, candied cucumber garnish.   The finished product is a nice nod to the classic drink, with a little twist thanks to the pink lemonade flavor.  The candied cucumbers are definitely different, but worth a try.  They'd also be great in a cucumber martini!

If any of you attended Cupcake Camp and tried one, let me know what you think below!  And if you want to try these yourself, here are the recipes:

Pimm's  Cake
1 c. Pimms licquor
2.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
.5 tsp kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter
.5 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

1) Pre-heat oven to 350.
2)  Pour put 1 cup of Pimm's and set aside.
3)  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set this aside too :)
4)  Cream butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.
5)  Add one egg to the bowl, mix well, and then add the other egg and mix well
6)  With the mixer on low, add in 1/3 cup of Pimm's, mix then add 1/3 of the flour mixture and combine.
7)  Repeat step 6 two more times until all Pimm's and flour are incorporated.
8)  Beat all together for one more minute.
9) Line mini cupcake tin with liners and use a teaspoon to fill the liners with batter about 2/3 full
10) Bake!  Mine were perfect at 9 minutes.

Pink Lemonade Buttercream
7 tbsp. frozen pink lemonade (thawed)
4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 sticks of butter
3 drops red food coloring (you can adjust this or leave it out depending on the color frosting you would like)

1) Cream butter in mixing bowl until smooth.
2). Add confectioners sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.  I added 1 or 2 tablespoons of the pink lemonade with each cup of sugar until it was used up, and the red food coloring at the end.

Minted, Candied Cucumbers  (my take on the recipe shared by the Cupcake Project)
1 cucumber
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint

1) Slice cucumbers into thin rounds and cut into quarters.
2) Use a wide pan at least 2" deep and pour in the water and sugar.
3) Heat on medium high and stir until sugar is fully dissolved.
4) Add the cucumbers in a single layer and reduce heat to medium-low.  Most pan sizes require this be done in two batches to keep the cucumbers from overlapping.  Cook each batch for 20 minutes.
5) While the cukes are poaching, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
6) When the 20 minute cook time is complete, use a slotted spoon to transfer the cucumbers to the parchment-lined cookie sheet, again in a single layer.
7) Place the cookie sheet in a 180 degree oven for 2 hours to dehydrate.
8) Finished candied cucumbers will be a bit sticky.  Peel off from the parchment paper and garnish your cupcakes!