My little Anya Banana (a.k.a Banana Bread, Banana Muffin or Muffin) is turning 7 in less than a month. Birthday party preparations are in progress… This roughly translates as me panicking about venue, theme, invitations etc. and baking furiously as a kind of hysterical displacement activity.
These mini cakes are the result of my procrastination but, in their defence, they would be ideal to serve at a birthday party. You could even have the children go mad decorating them.
I baked these in tin cans in a moment of inspiration (=complete madness). I was not sure whether it would work, but it did and the size and shape is perfect. You could bake the batter in a sheet pan and then cut the circles out with a cutter or simply bake in two 20cm/8inch cake tins and make a lovely layer cake instead.
The whipped cake base recipe comes from the wonderful All Cakes Considered – a book that reads very much like a blog, filled with wonderful creations. It is an odd recipe, in which whipped cream replaces butter. The resulting cakes are light, soft, fluffy – really, the perfect sponge.
For the frosting I wanted something simple to prepare and universally appealing to children. I was sent some fragrant vanilla pods from the lovely folks at Pinner Vanilla and they became the basis and inspiration for the frosting. An entire pod’s worth of seeds went into a small batch of buttercream transforming it from simple to sublime. Seriously, this frosting would probably qualify as a controlled substance – it is that addictive.
For the cakes
240ml whipping cream / 1 cup
2 large eggs
200g caster sugar / 1 cup
1 tsp vanilla paste
230g flour + 10g cornflour | 1½ cups cake flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
You will need
4 tin cans (400g/14ounce) scrubbed clean
For the butterceam
115g / 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
250g icing sugar / 2 cups
2-3 tbsp double cream
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1tsp lemon juice
Pink food colouring paste (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180c/350F. Spray the tin cans with cake release spray then line the bottom and sides with baking paper and spray again.
- Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Beat the eggs until frothy in a small bowl (using a hand whisk) then add to the whipped cream and beat together for a few minutes. Slowly add the sugar and finally the vanilla and continue whipping on high speed for 2-3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Sift again over the batter and carefully fold using a large rubber spatula. Make sure you scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl. When all the flour is incorporated, pour the batter carefully into the tin cans – only fill halfway up.
- Bake at the centre of the oven for 35-40m. Test them with a skewer – it should come out clean and the cakes should be firm on top. Because of the unconventional method of baking best check them after 30 minutes – I found they needed at least 35. Leave them to cool completely before turning out on a wire rack. Slice into 3 (or more) layers. You will probably need to slice a bit off the top to make them even.
- To make the buttercream, put your softened butter and icing sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Carefully scrape the seeds out of a vanilla pod and add. Mix on high (you may want to cover the bowl) until fluffy then add the double cream 1 tbsp at a time. Mix for several minutes and add the lemon juice and food colouring if using.
- Put the frosting in a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle and pipe over the mini cake layers. Sandwich 2 layers together, top with a third and pipe some frosting on top. Decorate with sprinkles, fresh strawberries or whatever takes your fancy!