Guys, I have some news!
I’m moving to Boston! I’m making a career move, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! I’ll be working for this fabulous start-up that will be extremely challenging but even more rewarding.
So I made this mini cake to celebrate and say goodbye to Long Island. Why mini? It’s a little bittersweet. I didn’t feel like being extravagant about it. I’ve made great friends and memories here, and it feels like I didn’t spend enough time here on The Island. However, I live by a personal motto that I go where the opportunities take me, so onto brighter and scarier things!
This little guy is an almond cake with a soft crumb topped with a raspberry buttercream and slivered almonds just because. If you’re familiar with the blogging world, you’ve seen many-a-mini cakes by the likes of Cynthia. They’re kind of magical because there are no eggs, so you can cut the batter into teeny tiny proportions.
How the heck does that work?
Well as we’ve chatted about before, eggs lend a lot of the structure to a cake. The egg whites, in particular, are pure protein and water, so they support the cake almost like scaffolding. The yolks follow up with some emulsifying power and extra fat which creates a more tender crumb.
These mini cakes are baked in such a small volume, and the batter is rather thick, that we can depend mainly on flour to give us enough structure to hold up the cake structure. But that’s only part of it.
The magic lies in the baking soda-vinegar mixture. Baking soda breaks down into carbon dioxide in the presence of moisture and heat. Carbon dioxide bubbles tunnel through the batter and provide leavening. But that will never give us enough leavening to do anything. So we add vinegar, an acid! Think about the elementary school volcano science project. Vinegar reacts with the baking soda to rapidly produce carbon dioxide and water. That water turns to steam in the oven and also causes rapid expansion of the batter. It’s a one-two punch of a ton of gas bubbles causing a ton of rising of the cake.
That small volume we mentioned before? This is where that comes in. The heat causes the flour structure to set pretty quickly around the edges and move in toward the center just as quickly. That fast-set structure will trap the rapid expansion from the baking soda/acid and lock the tunnels from the gas bubbles in. And there we have it!
Now there is one more thing to mention. Greek yogurt plays a supporting role. The high protein content thickens the batter before it even goes into the oven slowing down the gas release. Then, in the oven, the protein helps to support the structure formed by the flour.
Okay, Kelsey. Wrap it up. You’re getting carried away. Anyway, all that food nerd talk translates into a fabulous mini cake that is perfect for small celebrations (like a move to Boston) or just because. Make sure that you put the batter right into the oven after mixing because the baking soda will begin to produce carbon dioxide quickly. Now get on this mini cake! Why not?!
Mini Almond Cake with Raspberry Buttercream
Adapted from Two Red Bowls
For the Cake
55g all-purpose flour (if you can’t measure by weight, see some guidance on how to measure with tablespoons)
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon almond extract
For the Buttercream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
6 ½ tablespoons – 7 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon freeze dried raspberry powder
Pinch of salt
½ tablespoon – 1 tablespoon heavy cream
Splash almond extract
Optional: slivered almonds and additional raspberry powder for decorating
- Make the cake. Preheat oven to 350⁰F. Line three 4-oz ramekins with parchment paper and prep with Pam baking spray or grease and flour around the outside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, heavy cream, water, yogurt, and extract. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the ramekins. Bake in the preheated oven for 16-18 minutes or until the cake tops bounce back slightly when touched. Let cool to room temperature. Remove the cakes from the ramekins to a wire rack until ready to frost.
- Make the buttercream. Whisk the butter in a small bowl until smooth. Add 6 ½ tablespoons of powdered sugar, raspberry powder, salt, ½ tablespoon heavy cream, and extract. Stir together. Adjust consistency with additional powdered sugar or heavy cream as desired.
- Frost cake as desired. If your cakes are a little uneven, level out gently after chilling to make it easier. Top with slivered almonds and additional pinches of raspberry powder if desired. Enjoy!
*Note: if you can’t find raspberry powder, or don’t really feel like buying it, here is a fresh raspberry buttercream recipe you can size down.