It can be difficult baking cakes when there are just two of you to eat it…you either end up eating way more cake than is healthy, or it ends up in the freezer. I try to bake larger cakes and batches of cupcakes only when there is a party to take them to, or when we have people visiting. But sometimes there is no occasion to bake for and you just really want cake…. And that’s where these mini cakes are perfect. The recipe makes exactly two portions of cake, and you don’t even need to buy any special cake tins as they are baked in regular (clean, empty) food tins, the kind that tinned tomatoes, baked beans, soup etc come in. (I used 400g ones – the most common tin size)
I love the idea of re-purposing things that would otherwise become rubbish, I save up jars throughout the year to put homemade jams, curds and chutneys in, and tins of all sizes are perfect for baking bread and cakes in. Just make sure that you grease the tin thoroughly and line the base and sides with greaseproof paper, making sure that the paper comes a little above the top of the tin so that you can pull the cake out easily.
I tweaked one of my favourite chocolate cake recipes a little to come up with one that makes exactly the right amount of batter, that meant using only an egg yolk, rather than a whole egg, but you can save the white to make raspberry meringue kisses with, they are the perfect match for these cute little cakes! The cake itself is a delicious, dark, soft, moist chocolate cake, and I iced them with a simple raspberry buttercream, flavoured with seedless raspberry jam, because I wanted pink icing! But you can go for any flavour you feel like – serve with fresh raspberries to really amp up the raspberry flavour, keep it simple with a vanilla frosting, or a chocolate one for a super chocolatey cake, or, my favourite option, stir a couple of tablespoons of salted caramel sauce into the buttercream and then drizzle a little more caramel over the top once you’ve iced the cakes, yum! (I use this piping nozzle to create the rose effect).
These delicious little cakes would be perfect to serve for dessert on Valentines day, or for any time that you want cake but there’s only two of you to eat it. They are quick and simple to make, taste great and keep well for a few days in an airtight container (if they last that long…there are only two of them!).
- 15ml (1 tbsp) sunflower oil
- 50ml (1/8 cup + 1 tbsp + 1tsp) buttermilk
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 75g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp + 1 tsp) light brown soft sugar
- pinch salt
- 45g (1/4 cup + 2 tbsp) plain flour
- 25g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 50ml (1/8 cup + 1 tbsp + 1tsp) hot coffee
- 60g (1/4 cup) softened butter
- 120g (1 + ¼ cups) icing (powdered) sugar
- 1½ tbsp seedless raspberry jam
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- pink gel food colouring (optional)
- splash milk
- Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease two clean, empty 400g food tins and line the bases and sides with greaseproof paper, make sure that the paper comes a little above the top of the tin for easy removal.
- Whisk together the oil, buttermilk, egg yolk, vanilla extract, sugar and salt.
- Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarb of soda together and sift into the wet ingredients, whisk to combine then stir in the coffee.
- Divide the mixture evenly between the tins (I use a digital scale for accuracy).
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-30 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs but no wet batter. Leave to cool in the tins. I like to refrigerate the cakes overnight, still in their tins, so that they are easier to slice.
- To make the buttercream, whisk the butter until light and fluffy, sift in the icing sugar and add the jam, continue to whisk until very light and smooth.
- Whisk in the vanilla extract and a little food colouring, if desired (the jam will colour it pink, the colouring will just make the pink a little stronger).
- If the buttercream is too stiff, whisk in a little bit of milk, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Fit a piping bag with a Wilton 2D nozzle (to make roses), spoon the buttercream into the bag and twist the top closed. (Or just spread the buttercream onto the cakes with a palette knife).
- Remove the cakes from the tins and trim the domed tops. Slice each cake into three even layers.
- Pipe a swirl of buttercream onto each cake layer then stack them, try to stack them in the same order as they were sliced so that the cakes are even.
- Will keep for a few days in an airtight container.