From Marvellous Mini Cakes, pp. 10-11.

I recently came across quite by chance a series called Les Petites Plats Français (Small French Plates), published by Simon & Schuster. The measurement are all metric, so I imagine this series was intended for a British audience. Because they were so cheap, I picked up this one, Sensational Cupcakes, and Meringue Magic — the kind of marketing that makes me want to retch — to draw upon for my contributions to the monthly drinks-and-nibbles party I attend. Of course, my new cookbooks provided me with the opportunity to acquire more cooking equipment (just what I need!). For the second time recently, Sur La Table has come through brilliantly for me. Not only did they have exactly the mini loaf pans I needed at an exceptionally reasonable price, I also found silicon molds for mini cupcakes, my preferred size for cocktail parties (but I couldn’t find a link to them on Sur La Table’s website).

Although the recipes produced only six mini loaves, those six go a long ways. Sliced, they are a good vehicle for cheese, bits of prosciutto, or a slice of fig. And from start to finish it took me about forty-five minutes to make them. Not bad, when you have to rush out the door for a party…

Preparation time: 10 minutes.

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Makes 4-6 mini cakes

2 eggs

70 ml (2 1/2 fl oz) olive oil

70 ml (2 1/2 fl oz) milk

140g (5 oz) plain flour, sifted

70g (2 1/2 oz) grated Gruyère cheese

1 teaspoon baking powder

50 g (scant 2 oz) Parmesan cheese, crumbled into large chunks

70 g (2 1/2 oz) grated Parmesan

6 peppercorns (black or Szechuan), ground to a rough powder

Shadowcook: Another reason to get the Kuhn Rikon ratchet mill at Sur La Table.

a handful of walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 180 C / 375 F.

Grease your cake molds and dust with flour.

Shadowcook: I used olive oil.

In a bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the oil and milk. Add the flour, Gruyère cheese, both lots of Parmesan cheese, the ground peppercorns and the walnuts. Season with salt and stir togethewr. Add the baking powder.

As soon as you have stirred in the baking powder, divide the mixture between the molds and put in the oven straight away.

Cook for around 30 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, keep an eye on the cakes and prick with a skewer if they seem ready. If it comes out clean, the cakes are done.

Leave in tins to cool slightly before turning out.

Tip: You can also keep aside a quarter of the crumbled Parmesan cheese and sprinkle it on the mini cakes just before cooking.

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