Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son

A Tiny Cake For A Half-Birthday


When Sugar and I got married — the big party time, not the legal time — we tried to make a registry that wasn’t careless with money. We asked for things we were sure we would use, and we looked for good deals. Not everything on the list was dirt-cheap, but there were plenty of inexpensive things we really, really wanted; after all, we are usually broke when doing wedding shopping, ourselves.

One thing we particularly wanted was some new loaf pans. We had two, scavenged, I think, from Sugar’s mother’s kitchen. I suspect they were nonstick once, because I have no other explanation for the streaks of dark brown paint amid a few decades’ worth of scrapes. We found some decent, non-nonstick ones from a kitchen store with an easy website, at a reasonable price. Someone bought them for us! Oh, the loaves of bread we looked forward to!

When the pans arrived, our dreams…shrank. As it turns out, the price was so reasonable because the pans were very, very small. Mini loaf pans, in fact. Reading comprehension fail.

Happily, mini loaf pans — ours are about 3 by 5 1/2 inches — are the perfect size for tiny birthday cakes, and tiny birthday cakes are just the right size for family celebrations: big enough for all three of us to have a slice twice, small enough that the cake doesn’t have a chance to get stale. (I know there are other solutions to that problem, but oddly, sometimes I don’t feel like gorging myself on dessert. Meat is another matter. So are French fries.)

Sometimes I make proper icing and divide the cake horizontally into layers, as with the Bean’s first birthday.



For his half birthday, I did not plan ahead, so there wasn’t time for the cake to cool enough to be iced. The Bean tends to mostly eat the icing, but it occurred to me that if the cake were chocolate, he might eat some of the part containing actual nutrients (eggs, flour, milk). (Yes, his diet is such that I am serving him cake for nutrients. A topic for another time.) I cobbled together this recipe mostly by reducing this one (minus the espresso because we have sleep problems enough with this child), with a few ideas from this one. I’m not often pleased with chocolate cake, which can be dry and more “brown” than “chocolate,” but this was lovely. We served it with whipped cream, and it was devoured, nutrients and all.

Half-Birthday Cake

2.5 Tablespoons butter (1/3 stick)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 egg
Scant 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter the sides and bottom of a mini loaf pan (~3×5 1/2″).

Cream butter and sugar. Add, mixing after each addition, salt, vanilla, baking powder, and cocoa powder. Add egg, and mix to a crumbly texture. Add flour and buttermilk, in alternation, and mix well.

Pour into greased pan. Bake at 350 for approximately 35 minutes, until a chopstick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Or a broom straw, if you’re traditional like that.

Serve with whipped cream, or whatever sounds good.

For a full-sized loaf pan, multiply ingredient amounts by three, except vanilla (2 teaspoons) and baking powder (1/2 teaspoon). The original recipe calls for plain milk, so that will work in a pinch.


5 thoughts on “A Tiny Cake For A Half-Birthday

  1. Love the tiny loaf pans! I, in contrast, make huge cakes that would feed a family (that’s how I grew up) — and then H and I finish them alone in 2-3 days. It’s kind of embarrassing. I like to argue that there’s fruit on them and stuff, so it’s practically health food…

  2. So there are people who eat a 3×0.5 inch morsel of cake and call it a slice? Interesting. Where I come from, it isn’t a slice unless it’s at least 5 inches long and 2 inches wide. But we’re traditional like that, a fact which might go some distance toward explaining my tendency to edge toward a “traditional build.” I admire your forbearance.

    And yes, cake contains nutrients appropriate for a child. Did you know that ice cream is a fantastic calcium source? Eggbert does!

  3. Oh, to be a mother who does important celebrations! Luckily we are staring a half birthday in the face, so maybe I’ll get out the weird egg shaped cupcake pan I got from somewhere and try to live up to your shining example.

  4. Almost everything is better in miniature. And everything is better with chocolate.

  5. I commented on this already, but it seems WordPress ate my comment in much the same way I eat cake! NOM.

    I’m all about cake as a source of nutrients. Zucchini cake! Banana cake! Carrot cake! I pretty much just love cake.

    I never bake small ones though – wouldn’t know how. We freeze them in individual slices, and I’ve never met a cake that didn’t freeze well. Hubs likes to take them to work, and Monkey likes to eat them frozen. Which has the added benefit if fewer crumbs!

    Yay cake!

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