I love little cakes, and I’m always keen to find recipes for something other than cupcakes.
Yotam Ottolenghi in his lovely book Sweet, written with another great cook Helen Goh, has a number of recipes for all kinds of little cakes. Many of the cakes are made with ground almonds, making them moist and delicious.
These Strawberry and Vanilla Mini-Cakes are very fragrant with fresh strawberries and vanilla. The cakes are quite dense and would be great on their own. The strawberry icing however, adds piquancy, but be careful as it’s quite runny!
Here’s the recipe from Sweet. Ottolenghi suggests making the cakes in a pop-over or giant muffin tin, giving you 12, or if you make them in regular muffin tins you will end up with 18.
I decorated the cakes with freeze dried strawberry powder instead of freeze dried whole berries.
1 cup plus 1 1/2 tbsp/ 250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups/250 g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
scraped seeds of 1/2 vanilla pod
4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup/120 g self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups/140 g almond meal
7 oz/200 g fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/3 inch/1-cm dice
2 oz/55 g fresh strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
2 1/2 cups/300 g confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp light corn syrup
scraped seeds of 1/4 vanilla pod
6 whole strawberries (or 9 if using a regular muffin pan) cut in half lengthwise, or 2 tbsp freeze-dried chopped strawberries, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Grease and flour the molds of your chosen pans.
Place the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until light, then add the eggs, a little at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times as you go. (Adding the eggs gradually should prevent the mix from splitting, but don’t worry too much if it does, it might look a bit curdled, but this will not affect the final result.)
Continue to beat until fully combined. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the almond meat. Turn the speed of the mixer to medium-low, then add the dry ingredients in three batches and finally fold in the diced strawberries.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared molds – it should come about three-quarters of the way up the sides (about two-thirds in a regular muffin pan). Bake for about 22 minutes (about 20 minutes in a regular muffin pan), rotating the pan halfway through, until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes before easing the cakes out of the molds. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To make the strawberry icing, place all the icing ingredients in a food processor and process together until smooth.
Drizzle the tops of the upside-down cakes with the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides. If desired, garnish with half a strawberry on each cake, cut side facing up, or a sprinkle of dried strawberries.