I have no idea why these little cakes are called ‘Amerikaner’ or ‘Americans’, but I do remember them fondly from my time growing up in Germany. They are a kind of round sponge cake and come with either a white or a dark fondant glaze or sometimes even both. The most likely explanation for the name is that they were originally called ‘Ammoniakaner’, due to one of the ingredients in the baking powder that makes them so light and fluffy. Over time this changed to ‘Amerikaner’ which was much easier to pronounce. They are easy and quick to make, the kind of thing you can whip up at short notice as you will already have the ingredients in your fridge and store cupboard. These are a mini version of the ‘Amerikaner’, maybe half the normal size, and only have about 125 calories each.

This recipe makes 24.

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C for fan ovens).

  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 100 g sugar
  • 1 packet of vanilla sugar
  • A few drops vanilla aroma
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 medium or 3 small eggs
  • 250 g flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 100 ml milk
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Cream the butter in a large bowl. Add sugar, vanilla sugar, vanilla aroma and salt and beat with a hand mixer. Add one egg after the other and mix on high speed for half a minute each. Add the baking powder to the flour and add half of it and half of the milk to the butter/egg mixture at a slow to medium speed. Add the rest of the flour and milk.

Line a baking tray with baking parchment and from half of the cake mixture make 12 little heaps of the batter on it with the help of a spoon. Wet the spoon and smooth them into a round shape. Bake for 15 minutes. Once the first batch is out of the oven, put the next 12 in.

Leave the little cakes to cool on a wire rack and prepare the glaze in the meantime. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the water. When the cakes are cool to the touch use a brush to glace the bottom of the ‘Amerikaners’ with the white glaze and leave to dry. Add the cocoa to the rest of the glaze and when the second batch has cooled down, brush them with the dark glaze.

If you feel creative you can decorate them further with contrasting glaze. Or bake them for a children’s party and have the kids decorate them themselves.


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