Mini Birthday Layer Cake on a Panini Press

by on September 11, 2011

Post image for Mini Birthday Layer Cake on a Panini Press

I’ve been telling friends all weekend that I baked a yellow layer cake on the panini grill. They’ve been universally perplexed by what this could possibly entail. Well, here it is!

Whenever I read an article casting the panini maker as a “bulky, one-use gadget”, I have to sigh. Really? The only possible use in the entire culinary spectrum for a tool comprised of two direct heating sources – which, by the way, heat up in under five minutes – is grilling sandwiches? As someone who has spent the past nearly four years delving into ice cream cones, foil packet grilling, pop tarts and now Mini Birthday Layer Cake (in addition to, of course, plenty of panini) on the panini press…well, I think I’ve proven this is no single-use tool.

I’m excited to show you the new panini-baking technique I’ve figured out. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities for this versatile machine!

Ramekins make baking on the panini grill rather easy

Ramekins – that’s my secret to baking on a panini press. They’re small enough to fit on the grill. All you have to do is determine how much to fill them, how long to bake them and at what temperature. Actually, those last three things do involve a bit of trial and error. But once you’ve got a good recipe down, this becomes a viable, relatively quick baking method.

Cakes fresh off the grill

To come up with a small batch yellow cake recipe for my little layers, I adapted the One Bowl Vanilla Cupcakes for Two on How Sweet It Is, hoping that it would take roughly the same amount of batter to make two 3 1/2-inch layers as it did to make two cupcakes. That worked perfectly – the layers rose to the rim of the ramekin without spilling over. The cakes themselves felt nice and springy, as they should.

Cutting down a chocolate buttercream recipe to make just enough for this tiny birthday cake (way too small to fit all the candles I’ve earned this year!) really put my knowledge of measurement conversions to the test. But I focused and got it done, as I could not wait to frost this thing. And, of course, add the sprinkles.

Mini Birthday Layer Cake on a Panini Press

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{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sara September 11, 2011 at 10:35 pm

What a cool idea! Looks like a really fun birthday cake…so cute! :)
sara´s last blog post ..Jam Cake with Peanut Streusel

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2 Diane {Created by Diane} September 11, 2011 at 11:08 pm

What a FUN idea! Looks like a delicious birthday cake :)
Diane {Created by Diane}´s last blog post ..Bean Dip and Jarritos Soda

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3 Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen September 11, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Genius! I love that it’s a mini portion too so you can have your own little frosted cake.
Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen´s last blog post ..zucchini quinoa salad with microgreens | tender greens

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4 The Cilantropist September 11, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Whoa. This is revolutionary. I am SUPER impressed! And I would like a slice please. :)
The Cilantropist´s last blog post ..Individual No-bake Chocolate Cakes for a Celebration

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5 Chef Dennis September 12, 2011 at 2:43 am

Kathy
I had no idea you could use a panini press to bake, how ingenious, and perfect portions as well. what a great way for folks without an oven to make so many more treats for themselves!
Dennis
Chef Dennis´s last blog post ..Pecan Caramel Rolls

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6 Kathy September 12, 2011 at 6:51 am

Thanks, Dennis – you can be sure I wish I had one of these things back in my college dorm rooms!

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7 Julie @ Willow Bird Baking September 12, 2011 at 3:35 am

Now THAT came out adorable!!
Julie @ Willow Bird Baking´s last blog post ..Presenting . . . Your Amazing Cupcakes!

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8 Carolyn September 12, 2011 at 4:19 am

Kathy, this is brilliant. Seriously!
Carolyn´s last blog post ..Tiramisu Cookies (Low Carb and Gluten Free)

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9 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. September 12, 2011 at 5:22 am

adorable! Love this one!
Alison @ Ingredients, Inc.´s last blog post ..Tuna Checkerboard Sandwiches for Back to School Lunches

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10 Shaina September 12, 2011 at 5:57 am

This is such a cute idea! Plus, it’s less work than baking it. Perfect for 1-2 servings.
Shaina´s last blog post ..Easy School Lunch Macaroni and Cheese for Sliding into a New Routine

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11 Nelly Rodriguez September 12, 2011 at 6:12 am

Definitely impressive!
Nelly Rodriguez´s last blog post ..One-Pot Wonder: Cajun Shrimp Stew

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12 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) September 12, 2011 at 6:40 am

Oh yes, I’ve got to try this with my new press. So clever.
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)´s last blog post ..Recipe for maple walnut waffles

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13 Maria September 12, 2011 at 7:06 am

How fun!!!
Maria´s last blog post ..Gooey Cinnamon Biscuits

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14 Jan Arzooman September 12, 2011 at 7:46 am

I only have a Forman Grill, not a Panini press … and I’d have to go buy ramikins! But this looks like a great idea. Thanks for the recipe and instructions.
Jan Arzooman´s last blog post ..Fruit now automatic side in Happy Meal

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15 Kathy September 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

Well, there is always still the tried and true oven baking approach. :-)

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16 Robin Sue September 12, 2011 at 7:48 am

You always amaze me with that famous machine of yours! Another fun recipe!
Robin Sue´s last blog post ..Moroccan Chicken Stew with Lemon "Couscous" Pilaf

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17 Colleen September 12, 2011 at 7:52 am

So cute! I wonder if you could dip it, or pour the icing over it, like a petit-four? Might be easier than trying to frost it. Looks yummy, in any case. Happy birthday!

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18 Kathy September 12, 2011 at 7:55 am

Lol, I think you might get a palmful of frosting if you tried to dip it (but, hey, that’s not entirely a bad thing!).

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19 Dana B September 12, 2011 at 7:56 am

WOW!!! ok I want a panini grill now. I mean NOW! :)

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20 Kathy September 12, 2011 at 8:00 am

You should check out last week’s post, Dana, if you haven’t already – I’m giving one away! :-)

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21 vanillasugarblog September 12, 2011 at 8:44 am

oh kathy you’re fun.
i love this.
vanillasugarblog´s last blog post ..summer break

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22 Kathy September 12, 2011 at 9:14 am

Thanks, Dawn. I think you’re fun too. :-)

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23 Victoria September 12, 2011 at 9:28 am

An ingenious idea! Could you take on cookies next? I’d love to be able to bake just a few without heating up my oven.

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24 Kathy September 12, 2011 at 9:51 am

I’ve definitely had cookies on my radar, Victoria! The opportunity to have just a few without heating up the whole oven is very enticing.

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25 Little Sis September 12, 2011 at 9:31 am

I was wondering how you did this!

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26 leanne September 12, 2011 at 9:45 am

This is brilliant, Kathy! It’s also making me wish I had cake RIGHT NOW!
leanne´s last blog post ..Taste of Downtown

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27 Jenny (VintageSugarcube) September 12, 2011 at 9:50 am

Way totally coolio. Could you freak’n get any more fabulous? Don’t think so. :)
Jenny (VintageSugarcube)´s last blog post ..Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

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28 Kathy September 12, 2011 at 9:52 am

Lol, thanks Jenny. Great to see you yesterday!

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29 Rachel @ Bakerita September 12, 2011 at 10:18 am

You never fail to impress me! This is brilliant, and I’m now absolutely dyyyying for a panini maker (as if I wasn’t already before, panini’s definitely have a fighting chance as my favorite food).
This is absolute culinary genius right there.
Rachel @ Bakerita´s last blog post ..Peanut Butter Cookie Fudge Brownies

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30 Stef September 12, 2011 at 11:25 am

Love it! Totally creative and fun!
Stef´s last blog post ..Food Outreach Hunger Challenge

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31 Sommer@ASpicyPerspective September 12, 2011 at 11:27 am

Kathy, that is super impressive. I had no idea this was possible!
Sommer@ASpicyPerspective´s last blog post ..How to Make Marshmallow Fondant

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32 Kathy September 12, 2011 at 11:34 am

Neither did I, Sommer! :-) Definitely glad I found out.

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33 Salad in a Jar September 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Pure genius! One of my favorite “skinny secrets” is to cook and/or bake small portions. This qualifies perfectly.

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34 Mary September 12, 2011 at 2:51 pm

This is such a great idea! It would be perfect for baking in the summer, since my oven always heats up the apartment and I don’t have air conditioning. Sadly I only have a George Foreman grill and I don’t think it would work :( I will have to give the tiny cake a try though – adorable!
Mary´s last blog post ..Is it Fall Break, yet?

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35 Shumaila September 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm

This is such a brilliant idea!!!!! Bookmarking it! Thanks for sharing!
Shumaila´s last blog post ..An Apple a Day: The Heritage Cook’s Apple Crisp for September SRC

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36 naomi September 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I’m throughly IMPRESSED!! Who knew cake and a panini machine could co-mingle.
naomi´s last blog post ..Chocolate Mint Cookies

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37 Camilla September 12, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Kathy, this is PURE GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot wait to try it!!!!

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38 Amy September 12, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Ha. I love it!

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39 Cindy B. September 12, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Wow !!! amazing. It looks great!

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40 Kelly Senyei September 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Genius, Kathy! I am always so excited to see what you’re going to make next on your panini maker. This is spectacular!!!
Kelly Senyei´s last blog post ..Pasta Arrabiata with Roasted Eggplant

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41 kellypea September 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm

I’m impressed! Couldn’t wait to see how you did this. Ingenious! And I’m definitely impressed with how well you whittled down that recipe. Nice work for a very cute cake. Excellent graphics on that photo, too. :)
kellypea´s last blog post ..Old-Fashioned Peach Pandowdy

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42 Kathy September 12, 2011 at 7:59 pm

You should send an article to whoever said that panini presses are a 1-job-only machine! Or even write your own and include recipes~! This is really creative, and even though I don’t own a panini press, I really do want to get one but always thought that they were ‘bulky’ like everyone said.

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43 Feast on the Cheap September 13, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Whoa very cool! Glad I didn’t know this in college, or I would’ve gained the freshman 40…not 15
Feast on the Cheap´s last blog post ..Creme Brulee with Candied Peaches

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44 Kathy September 13, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I know, right? :-)

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45 Joii C. September 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

This looks awesome!
Joii C.´s last blog post ..My Mission

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46 Cassie @ Bake Your Day September 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm

This couldn’t be any cuter. What a great idea. I love making use of otherwise single-use appliances. I recently saw that you can bake cookies in a waffle iron, lov eit!

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47 foodwanderings September 14, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I told you on twitter I was suoer impressed. The idea is brilliant and the results are beautiful!! :)

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48 foodwanderings September 14, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Super late 3am sorry for spelling gibberish I am way too tired and shouldn’t leave comments when half asleep:).

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49 Jessica @ How Sweet September 16, 2011 at 5:07 am

This is SO cool!! :)
Jessica @ How Sweet´s last blog post ..Cheddar + Brown Sugar Cornbread Muffins. {Dinner Tonight: Part 2}

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50 Jennifer Young September 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

This looks just delightful! How creative. Thanks for the idea!

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51 Jan September 16, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Genius! Haha! I love finding new things to make with a panini press (besides paninis) :)
Jan´s last blog post ..Plum spice cake

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52 Trish September 18, 2011 at 5:12 am

I was just craving cake yesterday but didn’t make any because I always end up being the only one to eat it. This is perfect! Making one today!

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53 Kirk September 18, 2011 at 9:14 am

I wish I could dive into my computer screen to taste this piece of irresistibly delicious cake…
Kirk´s last blog post ..Certified Medical Assistant

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54 thecaramelcookie@gmail.com September 18, 2011 at 11:57 am

How cool! I am now craving yellow cake :)

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55 Marly September 19, 2011 at 7:09 am

I love it – birthday cake for one!

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56 Meghan September 30, 2011 at 9:34 am

What a great idea using the ramekins Kathy! It’s just the most darling little birthday cake :)

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57 Sean October 2, 2011 at 12:30 am

I truly admire your ingenuity!

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58 Barbara | Creative Culinary October 8, 2011 at 7:24 am

I am chuckling at the very thought but also impressed with your ingenuity. And the little cake is simply beyond adorable!
Barbara | Creative Culinary´s last blog post ..Bourbon and Apple Cider Cocktail for #HappyHourFriday

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59 katie@ KatieDid November 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm

This is SO freaking genius. I have a small george forman but I can’t wait to look through all your recipes for inspiration.

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60 Skochii Bennett-Polchlopek April 11, 2012 at 6:48 am

Have you ever made multiple cakes on your press? Do you think four ramekins would work the same?

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61 Kathy April 11, 2012 at 6:51 am

There’s definitely room for four ramekins on my grills – I imagine it would work, but I haven’t tried it.

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62 Skochii Bennett-Polchlopek April 11, 2012 at 6:56 am

Thank you so much. I love this idea!

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63 Nicci Williams July 31, 2012 at 7:24 pm

This is too cute and totally genius! So glad I discovered your site. I got a Panini Grill a few years ago for Christmas and after a few sandwiches, it’s just been collecting dust. Can’t wait to whip and out and try some of these! So excited!!

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64 Sofia September 7, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Hi! I wish I had a panini maker, but I tried with my foreman grill, I use smaller ramekins and ended up with a cake the size of a cupcake, it was really fast, i had extra batter for 2 more and super practical. Good thing is that you can out frosting in the layers. Awesome recipe!! Foreman grillers out there, try it!

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65 Stephanie February 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

This looks So amazing. I can’t wait to try it.

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66 Laura March 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Can I use this recipe to make a cake in the oven?

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67 Darlene May 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Yes,i made this today,baked it on 350 for 30 mins. came out perfect.
i do not own a panini maker . :)

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68 Jeff January 1, 2014 at 7:40 pm

What type of panini press do you use for these cakes. I dont want to over buy

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69 Kathy Strahs January 1, 2014 at 7:54 pm

I’ve made them on both the Cuisinart Griddler and the Breville Panini Press, but they should work on any press that allows you to set the temperature.

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