It can be difficult to halve a cake recipe and get ideal results–especially when it calls for an odd number of eggs. This year, when I made Aron’s banana cake for his birthday, I made half of the recipe in a round cake pan and used the other half of the batter to fill cupcake molds. Cupcakes are much easier to save. You can freeze them for a cold day and re-heat them one at a time, or keep them in a ziplock bag for some slightly spongier cakes throughout the week. But then you’ll need to know how to make frosting for one.
Place a softened Tbsp of butter in a cup (leave the cup out for a while or you can cheat and warm it for 10 seconds in the microwave) and smash it up with a fork. Whisk it to break it up and get some air into it. (The first time I did this I used my hand-mixer whisk attachment. That was ideal, but an old-fashioned whisk is fine, too–even if most of the butter at first ends up stuck in the wires.) Add a 1/2-cup of powdered sugar and a dash of whole milk or cream. Whisk until smooth. Add more powdered sugar to get to ideal consistency, 1/4 to 1/2-cup is probably right. Add a pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth (or switch back to the fork if it’s easier at this point). Et Voila! A single serving of classic vanilla buttercream (the fairly sweet, Magnolia Bakery style stuff).
You can add food coloring and make lettering for a store bought cake or fix a flaw in your layer cake this way. Or you can turn it into flavored frosting: add lemon zest and some lemon juice instead of milk. Or maple extract instead of vanilla. To make chocolate frosting, melt about a 1/2-ounce of baker’s chocolate and add it after the first 1/2-cup of powdered sugar (you can use a dark chocolate bar in a pinch, but it could make the frosting too sweet). Or, if you plan ahead, put a little of your morning espresso shot or a bit of coffee (like a teaspoon) in with the chocolate and make it mocha!
You may or may not want to thank me for this.
P.S. Another reason for single servings: look what happens when you have to–the horror!–split a dessert.
And if you’re in New York, check out this bake sale Joanna organized to raise money for the hurricane relief efforts.