Clay pot cooking has been around since the ancient Roman times. This cooking technique was commonly practiced in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Today, some countries from these continents still use clay pots to cook their food. Here in the US, Americans have adapted this style of cooking, including celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, whose Clay Pot Honey-Lemon Chicken recipe became an instant hit on Food Network. Another advocate of clay pot cooking is highly-acclaimed chef Walter Potenza, who created his own line of custom terracotta cookware products.
Clay pots can not only be used for savory cooking, but also for desserts, and creative menu presentations. Instead of purchasing an expensive clay pot, you can use any ordinary flower pot (as long as it is new or clean) to prepare a Flowerpot Cake. Served right in the pot they were baked in, this creative baking idea can be easily made at home. According to Marks & Spencer’s head of cake development, Helen Brennan, “Creating designs for cakes does not need any formal training. The most important thing is to have a passion for food.”
If you love to cook, then baking in clay pots will be a breeze. Just follow this easy Flowerpot Cake recipe inspired by Martha Stewart to add more fun to your dining table.
Mini Flowerpot Cakes
You will need:
- 6 unglazed, untreated mini terra-cotta flowerpots (appx 3 x 3 1/2″), thoroughly washed before use
- Parchment paper for lining purposes
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder (use more for dusting)
- 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
- 1-½ cups of sugar
- 1-½ cups of all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1-½ teaspoons of baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt
- 3/4 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup of buttermilk
- 1 large egg (plus 1 large egg yolk)
- Quick chocolate frosting
- Mint sprigs and multicolored pebble-shaped chocolate candies for garnish
- 1/2 cup of crushed chocolate wafer cookies (about 10 pieces) for garnish
1. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Spray the inside of each flower pot, then place a small circle of parchment paper, about the size of a saucer plate, on the bottom of each pot, and up the sides, pressing it in and flattening any creases to the sides of the pot. Spray the parchment again, then sprinkle with cocoa. Set aside
2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, and salt into a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to blend everything. Add one whole egg and the egg yolk, buttermilk, vanilla, oil, and ¾ cup of warm water. Turn on the mixer to low speed then blend all ingredients for about one minute.
3. Pour the batter into each pot until it is two-thirds full. Transfer the batter to a baking sheet then put in the oven. Rotate the sheet after baking for about 25 minutes, then bake again for about 25 minutes. Use a cake tester to check if the center is cooked then let the cakes cool down inside the flower pot.
4. Frost the cakes with chocolate then sprinkle them with crushed wafer cookies. Arrange the pebble-shaped candies and the mint sprig on top of each cake.
If ice cream cakes are more your speed, try this recipe from Patti at Worth the Whisk.
Flower Pot Ice Cream Sundae
Ingredients (per serving)
- 1 small 3-inch clay flower pot
- 1 plastic straw
- 1 cup favorite ice cream (for fall, think about pumpkin, coffee, or even toffee chip)
- 1 slice of chocolate cake, or brownies or 3-4 chocolate sandwich cookies
1. Wash out flower pot and let it dry. Place parchment over the drain hole. Using a chunk of frozen frosting, cake, or one sandwich cookie half, cover the bottom.
2. Crush up cake, brownies or chocolate cookies, and set aside appx 1/4 cup for the top “dirt.” Press the remaining in the bottom of the pot. Place in the freezer to set.
3. In a medium bowl, soften the ice cream. Add any optional ingredients you’d like (a 1/2 tbs of coffee, gingerbread, pumpkin liqueur, chocolate chunks, nuts, etc) and blend gently with a spoon until smooth. Spread the ice cream layer into the pot, filling about half an inch from the top of the pot. Insert the plastic straw in the middle of the ice cream, cut off top to leave about 1-inch (this will firmly hold whatever leaves or flower you’d like to place in the pot). Place back in freezer to set (about 15 minutes).
4. Once the ice cream is firm, spread the top layer of “dirt” in the pot, piling it up to the edges, with a nice little mound in the middle. Refreeze. When ready to serve, insert a fresh flower into the straw and add a few leaves.
Photo and recipe credit: Martha Stewart, Worth the Whisk