Arguably the most exciting new domestic cooking appliance since the microwave, air fryers first began appearing around 2010 and are now to be found in many restaurant kitchens, too.
Even if your kitchen is too small to accommodate a normal oven, you can do some delicious baking with one of these nifty countertop devices. When somebody showed me their air fryer (the first I’d seen), I was immediately so intrigued by the possibilities offered by oil-free deep frying that I barely heard her say that it could also bake great cakes. “No, it can’t,” I replied, half my attention still thinking about how a salad with battered prawns would taste, if the prawns weren’t greasy.
I was sure she was joking. Baking and deep frying are very different things, after all. The little appliance could barely accommodate a baking mold, never mind allowing sufficient space on all sides for natural convection to distribute heat evenly. To my way of thinking, either the bottom or top of the cake would be burned to ash before the other side even started to cook!
What I didn’t take into account was the powerful forced airflow an air fryer offers, along with very precise temperature control. Cakes actually cook more evenly in an air fryer, not less, and somehow end up being moister and lighter than those baked in a conventional oven. The preheating period is no longer than 5 minutes, and the energy consumed in air fryer baking is only a fraction of what is needed for an electrical oven. The only downside, in fact, is the maximum size baking mold that can fit into the appliance.
In terms of technique, air frying a cake is very similar to baking one. Do what you normally do and things should turn out fine: grease and flour the mold, don’t over-work the batter, check doneness by inserting a skewer into the center, and so forth. Most oven cake recipes should work in an air fryer without any tweaking, but let’s present a few that are guaranteed to work with this method.
Who says people don’t like to eat vegetables? The carrots retain a wonderful amount of moisture while also providing a firm, crumbly texture. The flavors are all fresh, vibrant and work well together.
- 2 ½ cup grated carrots
- 1 ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup raisins
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 cup drained, chopped canned pineapple
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3 fresh eggs
- ½ cup sunflower oil or ¾ cup butter
- ¼ cup unflavored yogurt
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ cup crushed peanuts
- 1 tub (250 g) cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 cup icing sugar
- ½ cup unflavored yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- a few drops of milk (only if required.
- Mix the grated carrots, half the brown sugar, raisins, pineapple and vanilla essence together thoroughly, and let marinate for an hour.
- Whisk or sift together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Using a hand mixer, cream the butter or oil with the remainder of the sugar. Once it starts coming together, add the yogurt and applesauce and beat until smooth. Drop in the vanilla essence and add the eggs one by one, incorporating each thoroughly before adding the next.
- Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Using a spatula, fold and cut until you can no longer see clumps of dry flour, but do not work the dough too hard.
- Add the carrot mix and crushed peanuts, and simply mix until you have a smooth, consistent dough you can spoon into a greased and floured baking mold. Cover the top with foil, poking a few holes in it to allow steam to escape
- Actual baking time will depend heavily on the size and shape of your mold, but 175ºC (350ºF) for 30 minutes is a good place to start.
- The frosting cannot be easier: use the finest grade of icing sugar you can find, and simply use a hand beater to combine everything well. Decorate your cake, sprinkle some more crushed peanuts over the top and leave in the fridge for an hour to set.
Victoria Sponge Cake
Easy and elegant, this is wonderful when served with tea or coffee. Bake two layers (or one, sliced carefully in half) and paste them together with the deliciously summery filling.
- 200g each of cake flour, butter and caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- pinch salt
Just cream the butter and sugar until nice and fluffy, add the eggs one by one while continuing to mix, and fold in the dry ingredients. Bake for 15 minutes at 175ºC (350ºF), remove and insert a skewer into the center of the cake. When you remove the skewer, there should be no wet batter sticking to it; if so, just bake for a few more minutes.
- 50 ml strawberry jam
- ½ cup chopped strawberries
- 100g butter
- 200g icing sugar
- 2 Tbsp whipping cream
Gradually add the sugar to the cream and butter while creaming. When it’s well aerated, gently fold in the strawberries. Spread the jam on the inside surface of one or both cake halves and stick together with the filling.
Ultrafast Chocolate Cake
Impress your friends with your home cooking – they need not know how easy it actually is.
- 200g butter
- 2 eggs
- 200g caster sugar
- 100g flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
Sift the dry ingredients together. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light in color, add the eggs while continuing to beat. Mix everything together, and bake for 15 minutes at 160ºC (320ºF). At this low temperature, how fast it cooks can change dramatically depending on the shape of your baking mold (chocolate muffins, anyone?), so try and test. To serve, just dust with a little more sugar.