Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A 'Fairy' Easy Fairy Cake Recipe

How to make the simplest Fairy Cakes!

I imagine things have changed since I was a little kid, but in my day, once the chocolate cornflake cakes and jam tarts had been mastered, Fairy Cakes were one of the next sweet delights a British child would learn to make in the kitchen. Fairy Cakes were also de riguer at every self-respecting single-digit birthday party in the country.

photograph picture how to make recipe for fairy cakes
The Cottingley Fairies are no match for the Fairy Cake Fairies who magically appeared when my photographs were developed?

I have mentioned fairy cakes a couple of times on my blog before. The first time, I featured Fairy Cakes by my niece in Dublin, Mollie. The second time, more recently, I baked some for an English tea party. Neither time did I include a recipe, but since I get so many hits from people looking for information on how to make them, I thought it was time to share the instructions.

This recipe, no doubt a Marguerite Patten one originally, is so etched into my brain from my childhood, I don't even need to go and look in a book when I bake them. There is nothing elegant or sophisticated about these cakes, they are simply childish wonders which attract magical fairies.

(makes 30 mini fairy cakes):
4 ounces butter
4 ounces Baker's or Caster Sugar
4 ounces sifted Self Raising Flour (or All-purpose flour + half tsp baking powder + pinch salt)
2 eggs
1 cup sifted Powdered or Icing sugar
Juice of a lemon (*and zest, optional)
Food colouring of your choice if desired
Silver Ball Cake Decorations (illegal to buy in California, so huge thanks to lovely Lynette for hooking me up with some)

-Put butter and eggs out of the fridge, to warm up to room temperature.
-Preheat oven to 375F
-Put out 30 mini paper cases on a baking tray.
-Either by hand or in a mixer bet the butter and sugar together until pale, fluffy and light. (*optional - add lemon zest at this stage if you desire)
-One at a time, beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add to the sugar/butter mixture, beating hard, until all the ingredients are incorporated.
-Gently fold the flour into the butter mixture until everything is combined. Do not over mix or beat the flour.
-Using a teaspoon, drop small heaped teaspoon dollops of the batter into the paper cases.
-Transfer the tray to the preheated oven. Leave at least 17 minutes without opening the door. They should be golden brown on the surface once cooked. If still a bit pale after 17 minutes, turn the tray in the oven and bake for a further 3 minutes.
Transfer mini cakes to a cooling rack.
-Meanwhile add a few drops of colouring to the sifted powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add fresh lemon juice, a small squirt at a time, beating hard, until all the sugar is blended into a thick fondant. Go gingerly with the liquid, you want it to be very thick. Stop adding lemon juice as soon as it reaches the fondant stage.
-Carefully drop a dollop of the fondant onto the centre of each little cake. Leave it to spread over the surface. You can guide the icing with a knife dipped in hot water if you want more control over where it dribbles.
-Top with a candy or cake decoration of your choice.
-Look for the fairies!

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A 'Fairy' Easy Fairy Cake Recipe


  • At 24/5/06 15:23, Blogger Catherine said…

    Hi Sam,

    Your fairy cakes are lovely. I plan to make them for a fairy T-Ball party (T-Ball= softball for little girls). Thanks for the link to my childhood recipe!

  • At 24/5/06 16:09, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Beautiful photo! I love the floating fairies!

  • At 25/5/06 00:56, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your fairy looks gorgeous no wonder the magical fairies turned up! I love the baby blue icing - my colour theme at the moment. I've got to make these...

  • At 25/5/06 00:57, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I meant fairy cakes... duh (it's too early in the morning for me)

  • At 25/5/06 05:38, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    Beautiful pictures!! Great partay accesorization!

  • At 25/5/06 06:19, Blogger Ruth said…

    These look yummy, I'd love to make some. Do you know where I can find some kind of oz to grams table? I have NO idea how much an oz is. And I have no idea how to turn °F into °C either..

    These are the problems with world famous blogs, right?

  • At 25/5/06 09:33, Blogger Ruth said…

    Whoa, thanks for meing so fast!

    I just might make some this weekend, and if I do, I'll post pics and a link to you.

    I'll have to go shopping first tho. I don't have paper cups or food coloring or silver dragees here.

    I don't think they would taste that good in muffin size...

  • At 25/5/06 12:17, Blogger Lady Amalthea said…

    Oh, I just love the fairies!

  • At 26/5/06 06:36, Blogger Farmgirl Susan said…

    I must make some of these, esp. as I had a secret international pal (who couldn't believe the silver dragees were illegal here) send me some, and then I didn't know what to do with them once they arrived.

    But mostly I want those fairies dancing in my kitchen!

    Thanks for such a lovely post.

  • At 26/5/06 07:02, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fantastic special effects Sam... Digital Light and Magic stuff!!


  • At 26/5/06 07:14, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your floating fairies are fantastic, and your fairy cakes don't look so bad themselves. Thanks for the recipe. Just in time for afternoon tea parties with grand daughters!

  • At 26/5/06 07:36, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fairy Cakes!

    I suspect I will have to make some.

    What is the history behind them? Are they a product of the Victorian era, the Edwardian era, or are they newer than that?

    Just curious, since here in the US, we are distinctly lacking in Fairy Cakes.

  • At 27/5/06 08:19, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Enchanting. They look perfect. I wish I'd seen them last week when I made some for my flatmate. (Mine were are rather unappetising pink colour with sparkly sprinkles . . . in my defence, my flatmate is a bit of a barbie girl). But what I want to know is, how did you get the surfaces so flat? Cheers!

  • At 27/5/06 09:20, Blogger Sam said…

    OK - sorry taking so long to replying to this thread.
    Someone asked about the origin of fairy cakes and I searched the internet high and low but could not find the answer, except thatperhaps they were invented in the 1920s, and they are meant to be dressed up like fairys? Wikipedia erroneously (I think?) describes what I would call a 'butterfly cake' as a fairy cake and their reason for bing (having wings).

    Catherine - they are so easy to make - i like the mini ones because it produces more quantity and they are more magical when they are small.

    L - to have yo say you like my photo is n honour indeed.

    Lex - I couldnt have done it without you! So thanks again.

    Mae - i think the colouring was three parts blue to 2 parts green. I was thinking of the sea.

    Wheresmymind - if only I HAD have been having a partay instead of scoffing them on my lonesome.

    here is the reply I sent to FLudder:
    Hi Ruth, thanks for visiting my site. Sorry about the cooking conversions. It's difficult because so many people around the world use different standards. I have thought in the past about providing conversions but it is not an easy thing to do and mistakes can be made. (I wouldn't like to be responsible for ruining a recipe due to my bad maths). In the real world (where people get paid to write recipes) recipes are checked by testers (and even then they often make mistakes). Since blogging is just a fun hobby for me, I decided not to offer this service, since no one is paying me anything and I don't have the time necessary to do that job properly. I try to give as much useful info on my blog as possible and I pass on a lot of outgoing links but I have to draw the line somewhere.

    I don't think it is a 'famous food blogger' problem really, food bloggers give so much to their readers and there has to be a limit. The reader can take on some of the burden too. I have a conversion chart in my kitchen. It is always there, sitting on the counter behind the scales and I use it when I get recipes online from all over the world. And I bought scales which can weigh grams or ounces digitally, this way I can follow just about any recipe.

    I found this conversion web page for you. I hope it helps. I also wanted to let you know that "oz" is short for ounce but since I now realise that isn't immediately obvious to people who aren't used to ounces, I eedited my post to include the full word.

    Fludder - also - I grew up on much bigger fairy cakes, almost muffin size, and they do taste just as good plus they stay moister for longer. These days I like the mini ones because I think they are cute but they are better eaten the same day otherwise they dry out.

    Lady A - yes thy are nagical aren't they???

    Farmgirl - my pleasure - I bet you have fairies living on your farm!

    Bruno - it was nothing too special, just a bit of wire removal thats all.

    Bill - this is what the dreams of grandaughters are made of!

    Barbara - I searched and searched and can't find the answer as noted in my intro to this comment :(
    If anyone knows???

    Rachel - I made pink ones last time. I am not sure how I get them so flat. They actually have a slight dome, but mine always seem to end up this way. I do a very thick icing so the top surface is smooth. (I try and underfill the cases a bit before baking too - maybe that is it?)

  • At 27/5/06 10:08, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi, i love your entries. i was just wondering, how come they don't have silver dragees in california?

  • At 27/5/06 10:36, Blogger Sam said…

    Mariya from this webpage I found the following:

    Although there is no evidence that the traditional decorations are toxic and certainly no one has been injured by their consumption, a busybody lawyer has codified by fiat his hatred of the little silver balls into de facto state policy. In a state of 30 million residents one maniac with an ax to grind is afforded respect and power despite never being elected or appointed to any legislature or governing board.

    Head over to that site and do a search for 'silver' on the page to find more details

  • At 28/5/06 00:39, Blogger Pille said…

    Sam - those fairies floating above your fairy cakes are simply too cute!!!

  • At 1/6/06 09:40, Blogger Jeanne said…

    Hi Sam

    What a gorgeous pic! Did you try to press some of the fairies between the pages of a recipe book? ;-) Cakes look too delightful.

  • At 3/6/06 02:28, Blogger *fanny* said…

    This picture is so cute: i love the fairies and the fairy cakes!


  • At 16/6/06 15:31, Blogger Dan said…

    It's not clear exactly what makes a fairy cake a fairy cake. I have seen several different recipes, and I thought it was the use of fruit (for example, raisins) but yours don't have any. Is it any small cupcake? Thanks.

  • At 16/6/06 18:03, Blogger Sam said…

    Hey Dan

    I searched the internet high and low but could not find the answer to what makes a 'fairy cake', except that perhaps they were invented in the 1920s, and they are meant to be 'dressed up' like fairys? Wikipedia erroneously (I think?) describes what I would call a 'butterfly cake' as a fairy cake and their reason for bing (having wings). It does seem it is more a British phenomena than a US one. To me it's just as confusing as to what a cup cake is (I was brought up on 'cup cakes' that do not resemble the american ones we know today). I have eaten hundreds of fairy cakes over the years, especially as a little kid over the years, and they have all been a little sponge cake (mostly plain or white sponge) with a little icing or frosting and some decoration of some kind. Never have fairy cakes been known to have huge towering mountains of butter cream.

  • At 30/6/06 18:18, Blogger Dan said…

    Thanks for the info on fairy cakes. I should mention that I got here after a mention of fairy cakes on the British TV comedy series, As Time Goes By - my wife and I watch it whenever it's on, even tho we have seen every episode many times. The group was putting on a party for some old folks, and one of the items was "fairy cakes." Actually, I am putting together a list of British colloquialisms used on the show - thinks like fry-up, Sod's law, got legless, J cloth, etc.

  • At 2/7/06 10:10, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hello the cakes sound look and taste YUM!!!! oh and i hope you don't mind me using the pic for my shcool prodect!

  • At 2/7/06 10:15, Blogger Sam said…

    Stich - you may of course use the picture if you follow the guidelines of my creative commons licence which means you must credit both me and my blog where and whenever you use it.

    Dan - I am a big fan of colloquialisms - are you going to post the list on yourblog?

  • At 7/7/06 16:18, Blogger Dan said…

    Re: colloquialisms - not sure what I will do with the list once I have it - probably a web page rather than my blog. But I will certainly post a note here, and I will include a link here for anyone who wants more info about fairy cakes!

  • At 18/7/06 19:12, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Where did you get the little fairies???

  • At 18/7/06 19:25, Blogger Sam said…

    Where did I get the little fairies?
    They just flew into frame, when I my pictures were developed, of course!

    seriously - they were a gift from my sister and she bought them here

  • At 7/8/06 15:05, Blogger Dan said…

    For those who are interested, here's a link to my web page with British Slang or Colloquialisms used in As Time Goes By. There is a link to this page in the entry for fairy cakes.


  • At 3/12/06 13:12, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi sam,

    omd i'v made thoses fairly cakes but with pink icing b4 !!! and with the silver balls lol
    i can't belive theire illegal in callifona

  • At 8/1/07 08:16, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i cant believe they band a type of edble topping in california

  • At 14/1/07 16:12, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hey! this actually came up in a google search for a fairy cake recipie, i love it and i've made it twice already! i made one itty bitty change though:
    instead of using lemon to make the icing, i used immitation vanilla extract, it's yummy!

  • At 17/1/07 16:52, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're my new hero! I heart his blog.

  • At 27/2/07 13:50, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think I have just found my new favorite blog.

    And I think also that you have just found your first blog stalker!

  • At 20/6/07 12:34, Blogger Liz said…

    I've just discovered your blog after searching for a fairy cake recipe (my baking only runs to Rice Crispy cakes) - it's wondeful! I'm a Brit living in Davis, CA and will be hosting a tea party on July 4 to celebrate our daughter's first birthday. The St George's day pics looked amazing too.

  • At 22/8/07 15:44, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi! having a fairy party for my 1 yr old and i would love to buy the floating fairies that are in the pic...any idea where you got them??

  • At 22/8/07 15:45, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi! having a fairy party for my 1 yr old and i would love to buy the floating fairies that are in the pic...any idea where you got them??

  • At 28/8/07 01:48, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    wow. i am not a girly girl but those look amazing!

  • At 4/9/07 23:30, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    nice photo shots i like them plus its nice to bake for snack time.

  • At 13/9/07 16:57, Blogger Vicky said…

    hi sam!
    i'm making these for my friend"s birthday. they look so pretty!

  • At 13/9/07 16:58, Blogger Vicky said…

    ihope some fairies turn up

  • At 6/3/08 02:08, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    it looks ok but huw do u print the respie

  • At 11/3/08 11:39, Blogger Unknown said…

    Great receipe and love your informative blog, lots of great topics.

  • At 2/4/08 07:10, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi sam

    your recipe is really nice and easy to follow my mum and i have used this recipe be4 and cant rezizt the tast we iv made them for my friend and famlie from england to india and they all love them and i am making them today too

    from Aasiyah Patankar
    age 9
    from Bingley

  • At 2/4/08 07:27, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi again it is aasiyah

    sam can you put the mixter in big papar cackes instead of little ones because we havent got any in the house



  • At 3/4/08 10:54, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi sam

    your cakes are realy nice and lovly today we are making them mnm

    from aasiyah

  • At 9/6/08 08:01, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi sam
    i made your cake today and they were amazing. i added food colouring to make them bright colour

    Thanks .x.

  • At 22/9/08 18:35, Blogger Nick said…

    thanks for the very good cake recipe!

    Can I add it to my site:
    free cake recipes?

  • At 7/1/09 20:13, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    The way back machine brought me back to your fairy cakes.

    It is 'de rigueur' though

    Bonne Annee
    Serge the Concierge
    'The French Guy from New Jersey'

  • At 13/5/09 16:02, Blogger Unknown said…

    I have gotten silver ball decorations at Market Hall in Rockridge.


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