By Blaire Flory
January. A month started with resolutions, fresh starts, and post-holiday “resets” to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Cleanses, swearing off libations, joining gyms, you know the drill. This year, however, I would like to propose a new kind of resolution. One that I believe we can all get behind (unlike the gym membership of diminishing returns): making birthday cakes for no reason at all. As celebrations with friends, family and co-workers have become memories, you may be ready for the classically American birthday cake. And this is a birthday cake that’s so easy, you can turn any insignificant occasion of the quotidian into a milestone worth celebrating. You taught your dog how to sit? Birthday cake. You wore real clothes today? Birthday cake. You had a bad day? Birthday cake. Imagine, a birthday cake that requires no oven, monitoring for doneness or interruption to the important work call that’s running long, just a couple of clicks on an Instant Pot that you can even control with your smart phone.
While working on this recipe, I came to realize that making a birthday cake when it isn’t your birthday is one of the most fun ways to spark some life into an otherwise unremarkable day. It is a breeze to make once you have your hands on a digital scale (see note), while no oven required means you can make this and be present for that Zoom conference or while managing your homebound kids. Two bowls and a fork are all you need for your batter—how easy is that?!
To take your joy-sparking one step further, you can make these sugar-free Lakanto sprinkles for a confetti cake (extra joy). Super easy, but allow for 24 hours for them to dry out before you can fold them into the cake batter or sprinkle on the frosting.
NOTE: The only special equipment needed besides the Instant Pot and a cake pan is a digital kitchen scale. In the world of alternative baking, an electric scale is truly your MVP of baking equipment (and all baking really, but especially alternative flour baking). Many alternative flours compress significantly during shipping or sitting in a pantry and variations between brands can be quite significant, so measuring by weight (an absolute) instead of volume (variable) will make your baking results infinitely more consistent and foolproof (bonus: fewer dishes to wash). Many great options all around $10.00-$15.00.
Keto Birthday Cake Ingredients:
- 1 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp (135 grams) finely-ground almond flour
- 1/3 cup + 2 tsp (40 grams) coconut flour
- 1/2 cup (105g) Lakanto Classic Sweetener
- 1 tbsp (5 grams) vanilla or unflavored collagen peptide powder
- 1 tbsp (5 grams) green banana flour (if unavailable, add 5 additional grams of collagen peptide powder)
- 1 tsp baking soda (approximately 4 grams)
- 2 tsp baking powder (approximately 9 grams)
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup/5 tbsp butter (76g) or 5 tbsp coconut oil (68g)
- 1/3 cup (79 grams) warm water
- 2 large eggs (100-115g)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (approximately 4 grams) or scraped vanilla beans from 1/3 of a pod
Sugar-Free Frosting Ingredients:
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature (227g)
- 1/2-1 cup (100-200g) Lakanto Powdered Sweetener (NOTE: can use Lakanto Baking Sweetener or Classic Sweetener in a pinch. If using Classic, blitz it in a spice grinder or covered blender until it is fine dust. Allow to settle for a minute in the blender or spice grinder before opening the top. It will not be as smooth as using the powdered, but it will be close.)
- 11 tbsp (200g) unsweetened, full-fat coconut cream at room temperature (if using a can of full-fat coconut milk, use the solid part only, which may required refrigerating it overnight to separate)
- 3 tbsp (45g) cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (approximately 4 grams) or scraped vanilla beans from 1/3 of a pod
- 2 tbsp (30-35g) alternative milk or heavy cream
- Pinch of salt
Special equipment needed:
- Instant Pot, any model
- 6-inch cake pan with minimum 3-inch sides
- Digital scale
- Hand mixer (a sturdy whisk and a strong forearm can be used instead)
How to make Keto Birthday Cake in an Instant Pot:
- Melt the butter or coconut oil in a medium-sized bowl, add the warm water and mix.
- Mix in the Lakanto, vanilla, and the eggs. Mix well and set aside.
- Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Grease a six-inch cake pan liberally with coconut oil or butter. Cut a circle of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan and place in the pan (this will make removing the cake from the pan seamless).
- Stir the wet ingredients again (they may separate a bit) and pour into the dry ingredients, stir well until combined. The batter will be rather thick, like muffin or scone batter. Gently fold in sprinkles, if using.
- Pour batter into cake pan and smooth the top evenly with the back of a spoon.
- Cut a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the cake pan well. Place a piece of paper towel over top of the cake pan making sure it is not close to touching the cake. Wrap the foil tightly around the paper towel and the cake pan. (Note: the paper towel helps absorb moisture within the pan, the aluminum foil keeps moisture out— so make sure the pan is well covered).
- Set the trivet in the bottom of the Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water (2 cups if using an 8QT), place the cake pan on the trivet.
- Close the lid and select cake setting, which will automatically set for 40 minutes. With venting sealed, hit the illuminated “keep warm,” which will trigger the cooking to begin. NOTE: if your Instant Pot does not have a cake setting, set the manual time for 40 minutes with high pressure and hit illuminated “keep warm,” which will trigger the cooking to begin.
- Meanwhile, make the frosting (recipe below).
- After the cake is finished, allow it to naturally release for 15 minutes, then switch the tab to venting and remove the cake from the Instant Pot. Allow to cool completely before removing the foil.
- Once cake is completely cool, transfer to cake plate, bottom up for a flat-topped cake surface. Using a large bread knife (or any other sharp, flat knife), slice through the cake slowly to make two cake layers, with your hand gently pressing on the top of the cake to remain still and not tear. Place the top layer gently to the side, and frost the middle of the bottom layer before placing the top layer back on top to continue frosting
- Scatter optional sprinkles and serve.
Making the Sugar-Free Frosting:
- Add the room temperature butter, coconut cream, and cream cheese to a large mixing bowl. Beat with a hand mixer for 1 minute until creamy.
- Add the vanilla and the Lakanto Powdered and beat slowly to incorporate, then beat on high for 30 seconds until combined and creamy. Test, adding more Lakanto Powdered until it is the desired sweetness.
- Add the alternative milk or heavy cream and the pinch of salt and beat until combined.