I absolutely hate classic fruit cakes. We’ve never seen eye to eye. People have tried to turn me, by hiding it under custard or a little brandy sauce, but it hasn’t worked. Mainly, I blame the dried fruit component - from an early age we’ve never been friends. I'm talking about sultanas, then raisins, followed closely by the currants. If I find any of these culprits in sweet (or savoury) things I get a little narky. It’s one of my pet food hates. And seeing as they’re the main ingredients in fruit cakes, it’s no wonder I despise them so much.
With so much hate for the poor classic fruit cake, I thought I'd turn the concept on its head. So, I’ve removed all the fruit - and in the spirit of last week's 'dessert in disguise' bento box, I've create fruit cakes that simply look like fruit. Plus, I made them mini, because who can resist a tiny novelty dessert?! Good things always come in small packages.
My absolute favourite in the mini fruit cake series is the pineapple, it's almost too pretty to eat!
For the vanilla cupcakes
120g plain flour
140g castor sugar
40g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ tsp baking powder
120ml full cream milk
¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
For the vanilla frosting
250g icing sugar, sifted
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
25ml full cream milk
A few drops of vanilla extract
Note: One batch of cupcakes and one batch of vanilla frosting (divided into four colours) makes 6 x mini pineapple cakes, 3 x mini strawberry cakes, and 3 x mini watermelon cakes.
You will also need
Food colouring in yellow, red, pink and blue
1 x disposable piping bag with star nozzle (you can buy this from the supermarket)
Black sesame seeds
For the vanilla cupcakes
Since my fruit cakes don't actually require any fruit of the traditional variety, I instead use my favourite basic vanilla cupcake recipe from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf to create the body of each cake.
Before we start, preheat your oven to 170 degrees. Following this, place the flour, sugar, butter, baking power and salt in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat on a slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency.
Whisk the egg, milk sugar and vanilla extract in a separate bowl. On a slow speed pour the wet ingredients into the dry and beat until just combined. Do not over mix.
Spoon the mixture into a 6 cup silicon large cupcake mould and 12 cup silicon mini cupcake mould (both available from Kmart from $5.00).
Bake the mini cupcakes for 15-20 minutes and the large cupcakes for 20-25 minutes. The cake should spring back when touched when it's finished cooking.
Let the cupcakes cool completely before demoulding. If it’s too hot the mixture will stick to the silicon mould.
For the vanilla frosting
Beat the icing sugar and butter on a medium speed in a freestanding mixer using the paddle attachment until well combined.
Mix the milk and vanilla together in a small bowl. Then turn the mixer speed to low, and add the milk and the vanilla mixture one spoonful at a time, until it's fully incorporated into the mixture.
Turn the mixer speed to high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, which usually takes about 5 minutes to achieve this consistency.
For the mini pineapple fruit cakes
Note: You will need 2 x mini cupcakes to make 1 mini pineapple cake.
Cut the tops off the mini cupcakes and discard (or eat). Use some of the basic vanilla frosting to stick the parts together – bigger sides together to form a pineapple shape.
Make the yellow frosting by mixing the basic vanilla frosting with a few drops of yellow food colouring until you are happy with the colour. Transfer into piping bag with star nozzle attached.
Pipe the frosting around the cake base, starting from the top and working around in a circular motion until the whole cake is covered.
Pierce the top with a skewer and insert a few springs of mint.
For the mini strawberry fruit cakes
Note: You will need 1 x large cupcake to make 1 mini strawberry cake.
Using a serrated knife cut down the top of the cake to shape them into upside down strawberries.
Make the red frosting by mixing the basic vanilla frosting with a few drops of red food colouring until you are happy with the colour.
Using a small palette knife coat the cake with the red frosting. Don’t worry if it’s not super smooth. Place the frosted cake into the fridge for 5 minutes then smooth over the bumps with a slightly wet palette knife.
Press black sesame seeds on top of the red frosting, you may need to use tweezers for this! Then arrange three parsley leaves in a clover formation on a platter and gently place the mini strawberry cake on top.
For the mini watermelon fruit cake
Note: You will need 1 x large cupcake to make 1 mini watermelon cake.
To construct the watermelon cake, cut the tops off the large muffin cakes, and use the cylindrical base only.
Make the pink frosting by mixing the basic vanilla frosting with a few drops of pink food colouring until you are happy with the colour. Then make the green frosting for the exterior of the watermelon by mixing a few drops of blue and yellow food colouring until you are happy with the colour.
For the watermelon centre spread the top of the cake with pink frosting. For the watermelon exterior, spread the outer of the cake with green frosting. Don’t worry if it’s not super smooth. Place the frosted cake into the fridge for 5 minutes, then once the frosting has moderately set smooth over the bumps with a slightly wet palette knife.
Similar to the mini strawberry cake, press a few black sesame seed into the pink centre, again you may need to use tweezers.
These can be made a few hours in advance and left it in the fridge, but be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving.