Air Fryer Birthday Cake: Mini But Mighty
So, what do you do when you need a birthday cake but don't want to construct a giant thing that will either get eaten quickly and add to your hip size or, if enough restraint is exercised, sit on your counter for days until it's so dry no one but the squirrels will eat it? You rev up the air fryer and build a mini cake. Although my favorite cake is chocolate (of course!), my husband's is not. So, I compromised. I combined a vanilla cake with chocolate fudge frosting. Because the frosting is quite sweet, I sandwiched the two halves of the cake together with a tart strawberry-lemon filling, which oozes into the warm cake and keeps it moist as well as flavorful. The cake bakes up like a giant muffin in the air fryer, and, if you'd rather not frost it, it's wonderful on its own sliced into wedges and served "as is" or with fresh fruit (like strawberries) on the side. Now, what about that fudge frosting? It's rich, and it forms a semi-hard "crust" on the cake. So, if you'd like to dust the cake with sprinkles, do so quickly before the frosting "sets up." I didn't have any colored sprinkles on hand so opted for some snowflake sprinkles instead. Chopped nuts would work well, too, or just leave the cake in its unadulterated, fudgy glory. Also, the recipe I provide here makes two mini cakes, each of which serves about six people (four, if they want big, big pieces). I recommend eating one cake and popping the other in the freezer, unfrosted, for later (the frosting recipe is for one cake).
Air Fryer Birthday Cake -- Makes 2 Mini Cakes
1/3 cup of canola oil
2/3 cup of buttermilk
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Coat two 6-inch round cake pans with baking spray (the kind with flour in it) or grease and flour the pans. In a 4-cup measure or a bowl, whisk together the egg, oil, buttermilk, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract until well combined. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt all together. Whisk the batter until it's smooth, but not longer than a minute. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake one pan at a time at 320 degrees for 20 minutes in the air fryer. The cakes should be golden brown and a pick inserted in the center should come out with no wet batter on it. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes and then remove them from the pans to let them continue cooling. Serve the cakes plain, cut into wedges, or fill and frost them.
2 tablespoons of strawberry jam or preserves
2-3 teaspoons of lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of your jam
Mix the jam and juice in a cup and microwave the cup for 30 seconds. Stir the mixture and microwave it again for 15-30 seconds until the jam melts. Stir the mixture. Split one of the mini cakes in half horizontally and spoon the warm jam on the bottom half. Let the jam sink in a little and spoon on the rest. Top with the top half of the cake. Frost the cake.
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
2 tablespoons of milk, plus a little extra
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
2 cups of confectioners' sugar
Put the butter in a microwave-safe medium bowl or 4-quart measure and microwave it until it has melted. Mix in the cocoa powder, milk, and vanilla until thoroughly combined. The mixture will look like a paste. Gradually stir in the confectioners' sugar. You may not need all of the sugar. Microwave the frosting for 30 seconds, mix it again, and, if it isn't smooth, give it another 30 seconds in the microwave and stir it again. Frost the cake quickly. If the frosting is hard to spread, microwave it for 15 seconds to loosen it up and add a little more milk, a teaspoon at a time, until the frosting becomes easier to spread. You can also keep a cup of warm water near by when you frost the cake and dip your knife in the water periodically as you frost. The wet knife will make spreading easier and help you smooth out the frosting. If you want, before the frosting sets, dust the top of the cake with sprinkles or chopped nuts. Let the cake sit for 15 minutes to firm up the frosting.