I have resisted the phenomenon that is cake pops because I can never get past the line in the method that instructs you to break the cake into crumbs. I wouldn’t need buttercream to bind the crumbs; my tears (caused by such wanton vandalism) would do the job. But I have to admit I do like the look of them, the size of them and their versatility.
Enter Lakeland with their cake ball machine. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a plug in counter-top machine that bakes small amounts of sponge mix into balls in less than 5 minutes. Impressive, non? And you get all the joy of a cake ball without having to desecrate the sponge.
I found that lifting the balls out was easy if you used two cocktail sticks; they are small enough so as not to tear the sponge:
For my first dalliance with this machine I kept it simple. All the cake balls are made from the same tried-and-tested vanilla cupcake sponge recipe. Some I rolled in jam and coconut for a classic English Madeleine:
When I rolled the balls in the hot jam I just had to photograph them as they looked so beautiful – almost like plums:
Others were rolled in chocolate ganache and chopped nuts:
As you can see, the sponge is a lovely texture; I was really impressed with this little machine:
For the citrus lovers amongst my eatership I rolled the sponge in lemon drizzle mix so that the whole ball was covered in the thin crusty glaze (it pains me to say it, but these were voted the favourites on the day – even by only casual lemon-eaters):
And finally, so no one had any grumbles, I cut some in half and sandwiched them with peanut butter cheesecake.
Serving them in mini cupcake cases gave the air of a box of truffles – a really cute look with no need for any decorating skills at all:
Ingredients and method
Obviously, the quantities will vary depending how many cake balls you wish to make. Here are the basic quantities that you can scale up or down based on your needs.
For the cupcake sponge (this will make 12 normal sized cupcakes or 32 cake balls):
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
125g caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
125g self raising flour
1 tablespoon milk
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in the vanilla
Beat in the eggs, flour, and milk.
When the mixture is smooth and well combined, spoon teaspoonfuls of batter into the oiled (I used Dr Oetker cake release spray and – contrary to the cake ball maker’s instructions found that I didn’t need to reapply) cake ball maker. It’s important to work quickly and cleanly – if you drip batter anywhere other than the holes you will find you don’t get nice clean cake balls.
Bake for 4 minutes or until the balls are firm. Mine took exactly 4 minutes and the easiest way I found to remove them from the machine was to spear them lightly with 2 cocktail sticks and lift them out.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
When they are cool, gently pick off any surplus batter that makes them look like Saturn with its rings!
Now the fun bit – decorating!
For the Madeleine version (enough for 16 balls):
Heat some jam (I used almost a whole jar of raspberry) and roll the balls in it.
Roll in a approx 100g of desiccated coconut.
For the chocolate ganache (enough for 16 balls):
125g dark chocolate – I used half dark, half milk
150ml double cream
100g chopped nuts
Place the chocolate, broken into chunks, in a heatproof bowl.
Heat the cream to boiling point, then immediately pour over the chocolate.
Leave to stand for a couple of minutes then stir until it is smooth and well combined.
Leave to cool and firm up before rolling the balls in it.
Roll the balls in chopped nuts.
For the lemon drizzle (enough for 16 balls):
2 lemons – zest and juice
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Icing sugar – enough to make a runny icing; the quantity required will depend on the juiciness of your lemon!
Place the lemon zest, juice and caster sugar in a bowl and beat in enough icing sugar to make a thin, extremely runny icing. (The reason for using caster as well as icing sugar is that the caster won’t sink into the cake and leaves a lovely light sugar crust on the top of the cake).
Pierce the cake balls all over – I used a cocktail stick for this.
Sit the balls in the glaze and leave them to absorb the lemon for 5 minutes or so.
Use a fork to lift the balls out and let the excess glaze run off.
For the cheesecake (easily enough for 32 balls – I only used it for 16 and spread the rest on digestive biscuits as a tasty treat!):
150g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia
25g icing sugar
70ml double cream
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter and add more to taste
Beat together all the ingredients except for the peanut butter.
When you have a smooth consistency spoon beat in the peanut butter.
Cut the cake ball in half and spoon or pipe a ring of cheesecake around one flat surface.
Press together with the other sponge half.
Refrigerate until you wish to serve.
Serve in small paper cases or on sticks.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.