Small Cake Recipe

Small in size, but BIG in flavor.

Small Cake Recipe

Sometimes you just need a little cake…you know, just a bite or two. But lots of times, you might need a little cake, aka a Small Cake, that is a lovely celebration for just the two of you, or enough for 4 people to have one good-sized slice, or…yes, you know what’s coming next: a small cake you can eat all by yourself. Why not? You deserve it!

Small Cakes, made in 6″ pans, are perfect for times when the single bite petit four is not enough and the standard 9″ layer cake is way more than enough. I’ve made them when I wanted the birthday person to have their very own cake, as a treat for date night, I’ve taken them to intimate dinner parties, and I’ve even given them as gifts. They are easy to make and to serve and to transport…and, of course, to eat.

What does this Small Cake taste like? Well, it tastes just like a big cake, of course! This recipe combines all of the ingredients of a regular vanilla cake frosted with a delectable vanilla buttercream–and because it takes less time to bake than a full-size cake, I’ve been known to do a few different kinds all in the same day (you know how that goes: you say “I think I’m going to bake a cake” and one person says “Vanilla!” but another demands chocolate). What’s a baker to do? Make some small cakes!

One pan, one mixing bowl (except for the one you sift your dry ingredients into), and a little more than one half hour later you have a small cake! This one has a rich vanilla flavor and will present as very special once you’ve piped the buttercream rosettes around the edges. So why not serve it for a special occasion with some festive Prosecco Cocktails!

The Magic of Vinegar

You might think it’s weird to have apple cider vinegar in a cake recipe (or any vinegar, for that matter) but this tangy acidic ingredient is the key to the lightest cake texture and the most moist and tender cake crumb.

How does vinegar work its magic? Well, first, it’s actually science but science can definitely be magical. The vinegar reacts with the baking soda to produce bubbles and during the baking process, these bubbles expand to create the fluffiest, most airy cake. Next, you know how I’m always saying “don’t over mix” when it comes to cake batter? That’s because over-mixing can cause the gluten in the flour to make the cake tough. Enter superhero vinegar! Vinegar gets in the way of the gluten fully developing, which will leave you with the soft moist cake you’re looking for.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
Small Cake Recipe

How to Make Small Cake

Step 1: Start by preheating your oven to 350°F for efficient baking.

Step 2: Prepare your 6-inch cake pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and lining the bottom with a parchment paper circle for easy release.

Step 3: Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.

Small Cake Recipe

Step 4: Blend in the egg and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth and well-combined.

Small Cake Recipe

Step 5: In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually mix half of the dry ingredients into the batter, followed by half of the milk and vinegar. Repeat with the remaining halves until just combined.

Step 6: Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top, and bake for 37 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Small Cake Recipe

Step 7: Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack before removing it and peeling off the parchment paper.

Step 8: For the buttercream, whip the butter until fluffy, then gradually add powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream until you achieve a smooth, spreadable consistency.

Step 9: Frost the cake with a generous layer of buttercream, applying a crumb coat first if the cake was previously frozen.

Step 10: Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip with the remaining buttercream and pipe roses around the edge of the cake, starting from the center and spiraling outwards.

FAQs & Tips

How to Make Ahead and Store?

The Small Cake can be stored in an airtight container or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. You can store the buttercream in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, (let it come to room temperature and then give it a nice stir) or in the freezer for up to 3 months (thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using).

What is a crumb coat?

Unlike the coats we wear to protect us from the rain or the cold, the crumb coat is more of an undercoat, something that belongs beneath the real coat, and it is a guarantee for a beautifully frosted cake. Why? Because the crumb coat is a very thin layer of frosting (you should be able to see the cake through it) that seals in all those pesky crumbs that often pop through your frosting layer. After you do your crumb coat, stick the cake in the fridge for anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours so it can set, and then frost your cake with the rest of the buttercream.

What if my buttercream is too thin to pipe?

Not to worry…you can do one of two things: either add more powdered sugar in small amounts until you get the consistency you need, or refrigerate the buttercream for about 10 minutes until it firms up.

Small Cake Recipe

Serving Suggestions

Let them eat Small Cakes with anything you’d serve with big cakes! Ice cream? Of course. This vanilla small cake is a natural match with any kind of ice cream but being somewhat of a purist, I love it with Vanilla Ice Cream. Don’t get me wrong, though: it’s equally amazing with Chocolate Ice Cream. You can also cut the Small Cake into 2 layers, fill it with Mixed Berry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam and then frost it with Strawberry Buttercream. And speaking of buttercream, Caramel Buttercream adds a dazzling richness to this cake.

The Small Cake is very versatile, too. You can flavor the cake it however you’d like, adding cocoa powder for a chocolate small cake, or a mix of spices like cinnamon and cardamon for something a bit more exotic (then, perhaps, swap out the buttercream for Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting). Perhaps you are more of a cake and fruit kind of person. This vanilla small cake is really wonderful alongside Roasted Summer Berries or Poached Peaches with Raspberries.

Small Cake Recipe
Small Cake Recipe

Small Cake Recipe

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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 37 minutes
Total Time 57 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 3294 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 8 tablespoons 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Instructions
 

  • Start by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C) for efficient baking.
  • Prepare your 6-inch cake pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and lining the bottom with a parchment paper circle for easy release.
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a medium bowl using an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 1-2 minutes.
    Small Cake Recipe
  • Blend in the egg and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth and well-combined.
    Small Cake Recipe
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Gradually mix half of the dry ingredients into the batter, followed by half of the milk and vinegar. Repeat with the remaining halves until just combined.
  • Transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top, and bake for 37 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
    Small Cake Recipe
  • Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack before removing it and peeling off the parchment paper.
  • For the buttercream, whip the butter until fluffy, then gradually add powdered sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream until you achieve a smooth, spreadable consistency.
  • Frost the cake with a generous layer of buttercream, applying a crumb coat first if the cake was previously frozen.
  • Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1M tip with the remaining buttercream and pipe roses around the edge of the cake, starting from the center and spiraling outwards.

Nutrition

Calories: 3294kcalCarbohydrates: 418gProtein: 20gFat: 173gSaturated Fat: 107gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 45gTrans Fat: 6gCholesterol: 613mgSodium: 696mgPotassium: 397mgFiber: 3gSugar: 342gVitamin A: 5504IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 212mgIron: 5mg
Keyword mini cake, mini vanilla cake, small cake, small cake for two, small vanilla cake
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Small Cake Recipe

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