Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Remember the days of butterfly cakes? The small cases filled with a strawberry-sized scoop of soft batter? Top of the sponge carefully cut to make two wings, stuck back in with a spoonful of butter icing and sweet jam? Two wee bites of the cake and you've finished. So light, you might as well be the butterfly on the cake.

Now all we see are giant cupcakes, layered high with a mountain of sickly icing that, when you go to take a bite, smothers your upper lip and nose. You have to finish it all in one go - there's too much icing to wrap it up and take it away - so by the time it's been eaten, you'll never want to see another cupcake again. They may look dainty but, boy, unless you're laden with a knife and fork, it's a messy business.

It's time to bring back the fairy cake. Plain sponge, white transparent icing, a few silver balls and a blob of butter icing. Who's with me?

makes about 30

250g soft unsalted butter, cut into cubes
250g caster sugar
5 large free range eggs
250g self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbsps baking powder
vanilla extract (optional)

500g icing sugar, sifted
6 tbsps warm water

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/ 400 degrees F/ Gas mark 6.

Mix the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Use an electric beater for best results. Add the eggs one at a time and mixing it into a wet batter. Then fold in the flour and baking powder until all the ingredients are well combined. Do not over-mix - you do't want the mixture to be airless. Add a touch of vanilla extract for sweetness.

Lay out the cases in a fairy cake tray (shallow indents rather than little cupcake ponds). Take a melon ball scoop or two teaspoons and divide the mixture into prune-sized amounts between each case. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cupcakes have risen and are a golden colour. Remove and leave to cook in their cases on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, sift the icing sugar into another bowl and add the water. Mix with a metal spoon in to a thick paste. When the cakes are cool, fill a cup with hot water. Dip a silicon palette knife into the water, dip into the icing and spread thickly onto the cake top, leaving no gaps.

Decorate with those lost and forgotten shards of sugar -

silver balls
hundreds and thousands
chocolate drops
iced gems
sugar lemons

- and gobble sweetly.

Dear old fairy cake friend, we love you.


  1. Horay, Fairy Cakes!!!! Fair Cakes are Hands down a million times better than cupcakes!!

  2. we are SO with you! I can not BEAR (BARE? I'm never sure which) cupcakes! Let's start a campaign!

  3. Completely agree. Fairy Cakes are wonderful , we do not do cupcakes in our house!

  4. I agree - fairies all the way! xxxxxxx malteasers and smarties good on top of white icing x nice with lemon in the icing sugar xx mmm

  5. Looks like we've got an army! Please pop up your fairy cake recipes for all to see! x

  6. Love a dainty fairy cake, much more refined - but reports of the cupcake's demise may be premature - they are by far the most popular thing on our site!

  7. Love them. But they need wings like all good fairies. Slice off the top, cut in half and fly them away. xx

  8. Couldn't agree more. quality not quantity!

    I made some British fairy cakes - the sort that go well with tea and cucumber sandwiches. Enough of these American impostors, laden with creamy, whippy enumbers. Fairy cake over cupcake ALL the way!


  9. Cup cakes sound delicious but fairy cakes sound even better. You have great art skills and photography skills, as far aS I know. You have great taste in art just as well as food. I really enjoyed reading this blog and hope that there is going to be more.