Succulents and cacti. Need I say more? I can’t get enough of this trend. But, my buttercream skills aren’t very advanced. So, I simplified and just went for it. One piping tip and some candy coated sunflower seeds = my very own buttercream cactus hack! Check it out and give it a try. Seriously, this one’s really easy.
Time saving tip
When I make a batch of mini cakes I usually decorate half and pop the other half in the freezer. Having the baking (and clean up) done ahead of time makes this dessert quick, easy, and fun. Let the cakes thaw in the fridge overnight. Then cover with a thin layer of buttercream and top with whatever your heart desires. I love these individual cactus mini cakes for an impromptu dinner with friends!
How to make cactus mini cakes
I used a #868 French star tip for the cacti. Some short and some tall. Some skinny and some fat! I piped them on cookie sheet lined with wax paper, but you could just go for it and pipe them right onto the cakes. #nofear
I achieved irregular “needles” by using a disposable piping bag without a tip. Snip the tip small and work your way up to the size that works best.
You can’t see them in my photos (yay!) but I used 3” acrylic discs (⅛” thick) as mini cake boards. I “glued” the cake to the acrylic with a dollop of buttercream. I’m super jazzed about this find. I was able to store the cactus mini cakes in the fridge on a baking sheet until ready to plate and serve. The discs kept the cakes sturdy enough for me to move them around several times. So awesome.
I used Swiss Meringue buttercream for this project and although I love how smooth it is, I think I’d use a crusting (American) buttercream next time. But, any buttercream will do the trick.
Honestly, do you want to know the truth? I ran out of time to pipe buttercream flowers (bummer) so I turned to my sprinkle collection for a makeshift solution. Three or four candy coated sunflower seeds will make a flower in a jiffy. And the colors are perfectly pastel.
How to freeze a cake
Bake cake of your choice.
Let cake cool in pan about 5 minutes.
Turn out onto a cooling rack lined with parchment paper and let cool completely. Cooling the cake top down results in an even top eliminating the need to trim off excess cake before frosting.
When completely cool, wrap cake in a double layer of saran wrap and a single layer of aluminum foil. The foil protects the cake from taking on odors while in the freezer.
When ready to frost and decorate, transfer the cake to the refrigerator the night before so that it thaws slowly.
If you forget step #5 like I often do, unwrap the cake, loosely cover it with a new piece of saran wrap and let it thaw at room temperature. Removing the tightly wrapped saran will let the cake breathe reducing the risk of condensation.
Assemble and decorate!
Vanilla Mini Cakes
Makes (10) 3" mini cakes
3 tsp baking powder
265g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
429g all-purpose flour
125g unsalted butter, softened
375ml of milk
2 large free-range eggs
2 tbsp sour cream
125ml vegetable oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350º F or 320º (convection).
Spray 3"x 2" mini cake pans with Everbake food release spray. This will ensure your cakes come out easily and won't discolor your cake tins.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Mix on low speed to combine dry ingredients (alternatively you may do this by sifting the ingredients together). Add the softened butter and mix on low speed until it resembles a fine sand like texture.
Combine milk, eggs, sour cream, oil and vanilla extract in a large jug and whisk well.
With mixer on low speed add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until well combined. Scrape down the bowl and blend on medium-low speed for another 20 seconds or until batter is smooth.
Pour or scoop 125-130g of batter into each mini cake tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the top of the cake is springy.
Allow cakes to cool in the tins for several minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Jes Best Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites (use large eggs and free-range if possible)
300g caster sugar
400g chopped unsalted butter, soft
1 tsp vanilla extract
Cube cold butter and let sit at room temperature until really soft.
Combine egg whites and sugar in double boiler over low heat. Whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. Rub between fingers to test for graininess.
Transfer egg white/sugar mixture to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whisk on medium/high for about 10-15 minutes. Mixture should be fluffy white and completely cool.
Add butter piece by piece. Don’t rush. Mix until completely combined (medium speed).
Add flavoring (optional). Whisk to combine.
Source: Cupcake Jemma
light brown sugar
chia seeds and/or poppy seeds
pink himalayan salt (optional)
Using a food processor, pulse graham crackers and Nilla wafers to desired consistency.
Add brown sugar and pulse until combined.
Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add seeds and salt (if using) until satisfied with the color and texture.
Can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.