This past Monday was my friend K’s 30th birthday. She wanted to have a big party with both friends and family so she talked to our favorite Red Hook bar, Rocky Sullivan’s, to reserve a space for Saturday, sent out adorable invites on paint chips, and enlisted me to bake a cake. The cake flavor didn’t really matter as long as it looked like this pin she found.
Now, not that I wasn’t up for the challenge, I just wasn’t sure how much I wanted to challenge myself . I mean, sometimes a box cake can taste pretty damn good and all I would need to add is some food coloring. This would save time brain energy. Buuuuuut I have been craving lemon cake lately, so I thought maybe I should just combine the two if she didn’t care about the flavor.
I had been storing a recipe for a lemonade cake for awhile. It was time to give it a try. Did it matter than everyone might assume that it is a lime cake? Did I care? Not really. You got to bake something you want to enjoy too, so lemonade cake with a green ombre it was. The next issue was how big to make it and how I was going to transport it to Red Hook. From my place, the only real option is biking or a car especially if you’re carrying something. Melissa helped me brainstorm all of what I was going to do for this cake and she sent me a how to bake cake in a can blog post from Oh Happy Day. Brilliant, multiple little cakes that can fit in a bike basket. No frosting on the side so you can see the color gradation before you even cut it open. To make it even easier to transport, I actually assembled the cakes except for the top frosting and wrapped them in parchment paper and put them back in the cans for transporting. At Rocky’s all I had to do was put some extra frosting on top and get Melissa to write on them.
Let’s backtrack a bit to the process of actually making the cakes in the cans. I bought four 1 pound 13 ounce cans of chickpeas, (more recipes with those to follow), and two can of the same size of pears, (just couldn’t fathom coming up with that much stuff for chickpeas ASAP and I like pears, and they were the only fruit in that size can). I emptied the cans, removed the paper, and cleaned them out really well. I was worried the cakes wouldn’t come out, but they actually came out really easily following the instructions. I also only had enough batter for five cakes in the end instead of six, which was fine, other than having already opened the can. Really I prefer odd numbers of things in groups so it worked out for the best aesthetically anyway, and that is what is really important. As per the can cake instruction, I filled each can about half full. Because I need to add color to each cake, I actually used water to figure out the volume for each can half full and measured out the batter. I couldn’t just add the coloring in the can, because while mixing it I was worried I would scrap the grease and flour off the sides, making it impossible to remove them when they were done. The Oh Happy Day does not specify a can size, maybe I should have clicked the link to what inspired her, so my cakes did not rise as much as hers, probably because I used larger cans. They also took about twice as long to bake, 40 to 50 minutes. Could be my oven but it is probably the size of the can and depth of the batter.
I baked the cakes the day before so they would have plenty of time to cool and I wouldn’t be in a panic. Silly me, I forgot to read that the frosting was suppose to cool for an hour in the fridge. It maybe got a half hour while I cut up the cakes. It was fine. The extra frosting was gone before we even blew out the candles. I think it might have spread better if I had let it set longer, but whatever. It was good. Damn good.
Ombre Lemonade Mini Cakes
Serves 20 to 30 people
- 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 12 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- 6 tablespoons thawed lemonade concentrate
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 4 large egg whites
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups fat-free buttermilk
- Green food coloring
- Crisco (or butter) & flour for coating the cans
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened
- 4 teaspoons grated lemon rind
- 4 teaspoons thawed lemonade concentrate
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 16 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
- 7 cups powdered sugar
- Prepare your five 1lb-13oz cans by removing paper from the empty cans and clean them. Grease and flour the inside of the can. Set aside and preheat oven to 350°.
- To prepare cakes, place first 5 ingredients in a large bowl (through the vanilla); beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, combining well.
- Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat well after each addition.
- Divide batter into 5 equal portions, each will be between 1 1/2 to 2 cups. Do not add any coloring to one portion. Add 2 drops of food coloring to one, 4 to the next, 6 to 8 in one, and 10 or more to the last one. Mix each one until the color in evenly blended.
- Pour batter into prepared cans, (they should be about half full). Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool in cans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from cans. Cool completely on wire rack.
- To prepare frosting, place 4 tablespoons butter and the next 4 ingredients (through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Add powdered sugar, and beat at low speed just until blended (do not overbeat).
- Chill 1 hour. (again missed this one a bit and only did a 1/2 hour)
- Cut cooled cakes into 4 even layers. Be careful to cut them flat (you may want to cut the round tops off, mine were pretty flat, so I left them) Place 1 cake layer of the darkest color on a plate and cover with frosting. I used a bag to pipe it on, much easier than trying to spread it with a knife. Place the next darkest color on top of the frosting and frost it. Repeat with the remain 3 layers. Use a knife or spoon to spread the top layer of frosting on. Repeat all steps with remain 3 cakes. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.