I love decorating lunch box cakes, especially on special occasions like Birthdays and Christmas. I think they’re fun and festive and my family really love them.
Lunch Box Cakes All Year Round
These small cakes also known as bento cakes are super popular all year round and today I’m sharing a recipe for baking and decorating your very own Lunch Box Cakes with buttercream frosting.
What Is a Lunch Box Cake?
Well these small sized cakes are exactly what they sound like, small cakes that goes inside lunch boxes or lunch bags, lunch pails or lunch tins, whatever you want to call them.
Where Do Lunch Box Cakes Come From?
Originating in Korea these popular cakes are a fun lunch time treat. But don’t let the name fool you, these cakes are suitable for any occasion be it birthday parties, baby showers, tea parties and more.
Korean Lunch Box Cakes
Korean lunch box cakes are a popular treat in Korea and one you can make or order from custom lunch cake bakeries. This dessert cuisine is also making its way into the hearts and lunch boxes of Americans as well.
These small cakes normally consist of smaller portions that are easy for lunch bags to hold and just perfect for your bento box.
Korean lunch box cakes, consist of a number of cutely decorated mini-cakes, snacks and other lunch box goodies. These tiny cakes are perfectas a lunch time treat.
What Size Is a Lunch Box Cake?
These super cute cakes can come in any size and it all depends on the size of your lunch container. The box that I have is from Korea and measures at 5x5x7cm or 2x2x3 inches.
Wondering how big is a lunch box cake? Here is the answer.
So I make my cakes in 4 inch cake pans. These are much smaller than regular cakes and make great personalised gifts.
You can make single layer cakes or add one or two cake layers to create a tall layered cake.
What Cake Pans Do You Use?
You will need a super small cake pan or baking dish for baking your cute mini cakes.
You can buy a 4 inch mini cake pan from Walmart in the bakeware section or you can order a set of 4 inch cake pans from Amazon.
Here Are My Top Choices:
Crown Four Inch Pans – These lunch box cake pans are deep set and heavy duty, the set will allow you to bake 4 lunch box cakes at a time.
If you prefer silicone baking pans then this set of 4 silicone cake molds will do the trick. They are great in the oven and non stick so it’s easy to remove the cakes when cool!
You may want to bake your cakes using a springform cake pan set. This set is leakproof, and has a removable metal bottom perfect for making bento cakes.
Ingredients for This Cake Recipe
This easy recipe makes 4 cakes.
You will need:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2cup all purpose flour (plain flour)
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 3 tbs whole milk
- 2 tbs vegetable oil
How to Make a Lunch Box Cake?
It’s easy to make with just a few simple steps:
Preheat the Oven
Make sure you use a preheated oven. Preheat at 350 degrees F.
Mix Wet Ingredients
Prepare the cake batter by beating the wet ingredients with a hand mixer or stand mixer.
Finish the Cake Mixture
Be sure to mix the sugar and wet ingredients first and add the flour mixture, cocoa powder and baking soda last. Continue whisking again until smooth and fluffy.
Bake for 20 Minutes
Place your cakes in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Cool Your Cakes
Allow your cakes to cool and run a knife around the edge before placing them onto a work surface for decorating.
Clean Your Pans
Clean your lunch box cake pans while the lunch box cakes are cooling.
Make Your Frosting and Decorate
Once cool you can decorate your bento cakes.
Best Bento Cake Flavors
The most popular flavors are lemon, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Here are some simple instructions to help you know how to create the flavours you desire.
Chocolate Flavour Lunchbox Cakes
Follow the ingredients above to get a chocolate bento cake.
Vanilla Flavour Lunchbox Cakes
If you wish to make a vanilla flavoured lunch box cake then simply leave out the. cocoa powder.
Lemon Flavour Cakes
To create a lemon lunch box cake add 1 tbs of lemon juice to the recipe.
Strawberry Flavour Cakes
For a strawberry flavoured cake add 2 teaspoons of strawberry extract.
Frost Your Bento Cake
Once your cakes have cooled you can frost and decorate them using buttercream frosting or cream cheese icing.
There are a number of lunch box cake decorating ideas to choose from, some lunch box cakes have many decorations and some just a few. You can use chocolate chips, sprinkles, fresh fruit or candies as a decoration.
The following Christmas lunch box cakes use buttercream frosting, food coloring and pipe bags for the detail.
Ingredients for Buttercream Frosting
- 150g Butter
- 2 Cups powdered sugar (icing sugar
- 2-3 Tbsp hot water
- 1 tsp of vanilla essence
- Food Coloring
How to Make Your Buttercream Frosting
- Beat the butter until it is smooth and pale.
- Add the icing sugar half a cup at a time.
- Add vanilla essence, or any other flavoring and/or color you want.
- Beat the mixture with hot water enough to make it creamy.
- Spread over your cooled cakes.
If you need to make different colored frosting then add the food coloring at the end after adding enough frosting to a separate bowl.
How to Apply Frosting to Your Cake
Cover your cake with frosting by spreading it with a flat frosting knife.
Use a piping bag of your choice, preferably with a fine nozzle to add detail to your cake.
Pipe your desired design and wait until it sets hard before placing in the lunch container.
Decorating Your Lunch Box Cake With Whipped Cream
If you don’t fancy using buttercream you can leave your cake unfrosted and simply decorate with whipped cream, fruits or candy.
You can whip up some cream with the whisk attachment of your stand mixer in no time. Your cake needs to cool completely before adding any cream.
Alternatively you may want to add edible wafer paper with a special message or image to your Korean lunch box cake.
Why Make Christmas Lunch Box Cakes?
Small Christmas cakes can be prepared quickly and easily with a few simple ingredients and tools that you probably already have in your kitchen. Your little ones will love them and they can make a great gift for friends and family.
Christmas Themed Lunchbox Cakes
Not only can you make these delicious cakes as lunch time treats. You can make them for Christmas. Here are a few Christmas cake ideas.
Bento Snowman Lunchbox Cake
This snowman lunch box cake is super cute and simple. Use white buttercream or frosting to cover your cake and
Bento Rudolf Lunchbox Cake
The Rudolf cake is super cute and easy to make with only three buttercream frosting colors. This has to be my favorite Christmas bento cake and it’s super simple to create.
Bento Christmas Tree Lunch Box Cake
You may want to try making this Christmas Tree cake. it’s super easy, has edible glitter, snowflakes and a cute message saying Merry Christmas.
Give Your Cake as a Gift
Your cake tastes delicious, so why not surprise your friends or family with a bento cake gift? Wrap the lunch box in cellophane and tie with a beautiful ribbon to make it look even more festive.
Making a Mini Cake for Your Child’s Birthday.
If your child is at school on their birthday then sending a small cake as part of their packed lunch could be be really special. That’s just one fun way to use this super cute cake recipe.
What occasion will you be celebrating or will you just make a cake as a lunchtime surprise? Let me know in the comments.
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Angela Milnes is a Qualified Teacher who has specialised in Preschool and Kindergarten teaching. She has studied nutrition for children and has also taught cooking skills to adults. Angela loves to share family meals and easy instant pot recipes here on The Inspiration Edit. Follow her on Pinterest!