After getting engaged in Amsterdam, we had a mini engagement party at our local pub and I decided to bake something small and pretty for the event.
At a drinks party, you don’t want a huge slice of cake to tuck into for several reasons, it’s hard to eat with a glass in your other hand, you want to be able to try a few different flavours, and chatting to other people isn’t easy with a mouthful of cake.
Therefore I wanted to make something small and tasty that’s easy to pop in your mouth, and small enough so you can have a few. For ease, I baked big batches of vanilla and chocolate cake in sheet trays, then used a biscuit cutter to cut out small rounds which were topped with swirly icing.
A tip for the icing, it needs to be as smooth as you can get it to be able to look good and the only way to do this is beating the butter and sugar for a very long time (an electric mixer comes into its own here).
Ingredients (makes 20 small canapes):
225g self raising flour
225g soft unsalted butter
3 eggs, at room temperature
50ml milk (whole is best but semi skimmed will do)
25ml cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
100g unsalted soft butter
500g icing sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
Coloured edible glitter
Redcurrants and cherries
How to make…
Preheat the oven to 190C/180 fan/Gas 4 and line baking trays with parchment paper.
Blend together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. This takes around three minutes with an electric mixer, double without. If you’re using an electric mixer remember to scrape down the sides regularly with a spatula to make sure everything is mixed in properly.
Once the mixture has doubled and lightened in colour, add in the eggs one at a time. In between each egg pop in a dollop of flour to stop the mixture separating. Add the vanilla essence and milk then sieve in the flour and baking powder slowly.
Carry on mixing everything together until combined – around two minutes with an electric mixer, four without.
Separate the mixture into two bowls and add the cocoa powder to one and mix fully. Flatten the top withe a spatula and then put both trays into the oven for 20 minutes. Watch the cakes like a hawk and as soon as they’ve darkened in colour and spring back to your touch they re done.
While the cakes are baking wash and dry your berries and put on a flat surface. Pour a small amount of water (20ml) into a coffee cup along with two tablespoons of sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Dip each berry in this sugary mix before coating with your icing colour of choice and then setting aside to dry. This is a messy job so make sure you set aside enough time for it.
When the cakes are done transfer to a wire cooling rack and wait until they are stone cold before using a small biscuit cutter to cut out small circles of cake. Set these aside while you make the icing.
Beat together the butter and sugar until it forms stiff peaks. It should be thick – like soft butter – and the longer you beat it for the smoother it will become.
Use a piping bag and swirl top (Winton 1D) to create the swirls I’ve done – you could just as easily swirl on icing with a spoon if you don’t have a piping bag to hand. Then place the fruit on top and sprinkle with glitter.