One of the most philosophical scenes from Disney’s “Shrek” is when Donkey insists upon trying to cajole an obdurate Shrek into explaining his intrinsic feelings and deepest thoughts. Exasperated, Shrek finally tells Donkey why he is the way he is: “Ogres are like onions.” The eternally dense Donkey thinks this is because both groups stink, or because they both bring tears to peoples’ eyes. An increasingly irritated Shrek grumbles that ogres have layers. And so do onions. You peel back one layer, and find something completely unexpected underneath. Donkey tells Shrek he might as well compare himself to a cake; cakes have layers. But Shrek rejects this comparison: “Ogres are NOT LIKE CAKES!!!” He roars. “Ogres are like onions.”
What layered food do you prefer? Much as I like Shrek, I have to say I’ll choose a layer cake over an onion any day. Especially when it’s a sinfully decadent and filling light cake stacked three layers high and paired with a generous proportion of tangy frosting bursting with lemon flavor. The topping of rainbow sprinkles takes these cakes to pure heaven.
When I took my first bite, I simply couldn’t believe it was healthy. (well, relatively healthy at least: I used all purpose flour just because it’s all we had in the house, but using whole wheat pastry would certainly make it healthier.) Even with the all purpose flour, this refreshingly tasty treat is healthier than your typical layer cake: each serving has a fair amount of calcium and protein, is sweetened by Truvia baking blend so it is lower in sugar, and contains very little fat. The cakes were baked in a Wilton brand coil cakes mini cakes pan (essentially a mini jelly roll pan) and assembled into individual-sized layer cakes, so each adorable mini cake is perfectly portioned down to a single serving under 300 calories! (If you don’t have a mini jelly roll pan, you can also bake in a 9″ pan, as is specified in the original recipe.)
Besides being delicious and healthy-(ish), these mini lemon layer cakes are also easy to make. Just mix up a little bit of batter, pour into the pan, and pop it in the oven! You’ll only get one bowl dirty. Assembling the cakes may seem time-consuming, but it only takes a few minutes, especially with my magic one-ingredient frosting.
What is that one ingredient, you might ask? Well, predictably for me, it’s a container of Greek lemon yogurt that is simple to slap on the cake layers and imparts a lovely lemon-y zing with literally no work at all. For extra flair, garnish with all the magic of the rainbow in the form of some lovely little nonpareils. This step is not optional.
When my mom tried this cake she instantly raved about the lemon flavor and how much she looooved lemon (I have never before heard her express such affections for lemon), then she commented on the frosting and asked how I made it. She was surprised to hear that it only contained one ingredient, especially since she never eats yogurt all by itself. But she liked it in the cake, and I’m sure you will too.
So what are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen and start whipping up this easy, small-batch recipe for portion-controlled lemon layer cakes. I hope every layer of your complex personality loves these sweet, scrumptious cakes.
Mini Lemon Layer Cakes
makes about 3 personal layer cakes
adapted from recipe from the Pancake Princess
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour (whole wheat pastry would work too, I just didn’t have any on hand)
- 1/4 cup Truvia baking blend
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbs plain almond milk
- 2 tbs lemon curd
- 1/4 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbs warm water
- 1 Dannon brand Oikos Greek yogurt, lemon flavor
- 1 tbs rainbow nonpareils
First, bake the cake: Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Spray a Wilton coil cakes mini cakes pan with cooking spray. (You could also use a 9″ pan, as in the original recipe, in which case you’d have to bake the cake longer and cut it into six triangles for stacking.)
In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix.
Add wet ingredients and mix well.
Pour batter into 3 coil cake cavities, or into regular 9″ cake pan. It will form a very thin layer, but will rise a bit as it is baked.
Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan for about 20 minutes. Then use a knife to free edges of cake from pan, and carefully remove cake from pan.
To assemble cakes: If you baked in a 9″ pan, cut into 6ths. If you baked in a Wilton brand coil cakes pan, cut each of your three flat rectangles into thirds.
Spread Greek lemon yogurt on one layer (one third of a rectangular cake), place the next layer on top of it, spread icing on that, top with another layer and more icing, and finally a sprinkling of nonpareils to add some fun to these fantastic layer cakes.
I recommend serving cold.
In case my description of the cake-assembly procedure was a little confusing, here’s a visual:
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Credits: Shrek and Donkey image from http://puzzles-games.eu/puzzle-shrek-and-donkey-558.html