They are the stuff of childhood memories: just one nibble on a fairy cake can transport you back in time and even today, no self-respecting children’s birthday party would be without them.
That said, why should the kids have all the fun? With just a little tweaking, fairy cakes can be turned into grown-up fare as well, perfect for a mid-morning coffee break, tea in the afternoon or packed lunch treats. The basic fairy cake recipe is oh-so-simple so you can keep it plain or indulge yourself with extravagant toppings. Some die-hard purists may omit the vanilla extract but I think fairy cakes are better with it.
The perfect fairy cake recipe
Topping: Lemon or Orange Glacé Icing with Cherries
Topping: Chocolate Ganache Glaze
Topping: Jam Glaze with Sprinkles
Topping: Coconut Cream Icing
Topping: Maple Pecan Toffee Sauce
Topping: Coffee Buttercream Icing
For mini cakes you will need a 12 hole tartlet tin (these are 5cm at the rim and 1 1/2 cm deep) and you will need to use it twice. For larger fairy cakes use a 12-hole bun tin (these are 6 1/2 cm at the rim and 2cm deep). You can use the little paper cases according to the size tin you have. If not, butter the base and sides of the holes before filling with the mixture.
125g / 4 1/2 oz softened butter
125g / 4 1/2 oz caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g / 4 1/2 oz self-raising flour
2 tbsp milk
1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas mark 5.
2. Either butter the tin or place the paper cases in the holes (see above).
3. In a mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. You can use an electric whisk or a wooden spoon.
4. Add the beaten egg, a little at a time, whisking to incorporate, then beat in the vanilla.
5. Sift in half of the flour and fold into the mixture.
6. Add the milk and the rest of the flour and fold until well combined.
7. Spoon into the tin and bake for 12 minutes or until risen and golden on top.
8. Allow to cool for ten minutes on a rack before removing from the tin.
Ideas for Toppings
100g / 4 oz icing sugar 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice 12 glacé cherries, cut in half (these work best when making the mini cakes)
Break the chocolate into pieces and heat gently with the cream in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture well blended. Allow to cool slightly to thicken then pour over the cakes. It will harden on cooling.