Thursday, 6 March 2014

The not so humble fairy cake

Up until about ten years ago the average British kid made one type of cake with their harassed mums, the humble fairy cake. Now the only cake that will do is a cupcake. Do children even know what a fairy cake is anymore?

My earliest cooking memories consist mainly of scooping out flour from a massive Tupperware box and pouring it into a Sunbeam mixer with my mum and then being able to lick the mixture off the whisks once we'd added the batter to the tiny paper cases. Once cooled, these cakes were more often than not gobbled up before a topping could even be thought of. Very rarely mum would make white glace icing and we'd spoon it on messily, letting it ooze down the sides of the cases. That would be it. And we were happy. They were fairy cakes. The food of the Faraway Tree, of Moon Face and Silky. Sometimes, to ring the changes dried mixed fruit (from another Tupperware tub) would be scooped into the mix - I still make these and they are a really winner with my children. On very special occasions we would have butterfly cakes, which some countries call fairy cakes, and this was the only time we'd see butter icing. These were dusted with icing sugar and didn't last very long at all. Again, cakes to make Enid Blyton's tea table smile. But now the poor, humble fairy cake has to compete with the cup cake.

Some think cupcakes are just a larger version of a fairy cake but they are sadly very mistaken my friends. You see its like comparing someone from Buckinghamshire to someone from Texas. Cupcakes typify the American stereotype. Large, brash, loud, excessive, overly sweet and style over substance. Fairy cakes on thte other hand epitomise the British stiff upper lip. Dainty, light sponge topped with a small dollop of glace icing and if you are a child of the 80s traditionally decorated with those hard sugar flowers made by Super Cook or jelly orange and lemon segments. Fairy cakes are dependable  Not overbearing. They are very reassuring

When my children need entertaining (always) out comes the mixer and they recite the ingredients we need for our favourite treat. And here they are...

 The (not so) humble lemon fairy cake 
 100g stork margerine 
100g caster sugar
 100g self raising flour
 2 eggs 
Zest of 1 lemon 

170g icing sugar 
 Juice of above lemon 

 Preheat oven 180c (fan). Add papercases to a 12 hole fairy cake tin. Bung all the cake ingredients in a mixer and whizz till pale and smooth.
Spoon into cases equally. Bake for 15-18 mins till golden. Cool (be patient my friend) Make the icing by mixing the juice and icing sugar. It should be thick in consistency so add more sugar or juice/water as you prefer. Get a small person to dollop this onto each cake and allow them to adorn each little beauty as creatively as they like.
Hundreds of variations are possible. The world is your fairy cake. Try adding a handful of dried fruit. Or cutting a disc to make wings and plonking some buttercream on. Or adding cocoa.


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