Fool-proof fairy cakes

I’m not sure whether it is the prospect of the Diamond  Jubilee, Euro 2012 (apparently it is some kind of soccer tournament) and of course, the London Olympics but here in the UK people are becoming very patriotic and decidedly nostalgic. 1970s retro is the new black!

For those of us of a certain age the 70’s represent our childhood. We are talking space hoppers, chopper bikes and CHiPs on TV. 1977 was, of course, the Silver Jubilee and we like many other people had a street party. Yes, the wall papering tables were erected and bedecked with red, white and blue crepe paper and anything that stood still long enough was tied up with bunting! We are talking cheese and pineapple on sticks, sausage rolls and dried up egg butties that no-one ever eats. One “posh” neighbour even provided vol-u-vents! The pudding table was laden with sherry trifle, black forest gateaux (hey, it was the 70s!), pink wafer biscuits and of course, fairy cakes.

Well, so I’m told anyway! Jubilee day I had German measles so was in quarantine! Whilst everyone else was outside enjoying themselves I was in bed poorly sick.

The afore mentioned fairy cakes are experiencing a bit of a revival at the moment. Cupcakes have been very popular for number of years now but many people, myself included, find them a bit overbearing. I would certainly struggle to eat a whole one! Fairy cakes, however, are absolutely perfect,  couple of bites and they are gone.

 This recipe is meant to be fool-proof so with fools in mind lets set out a few ground rules:

  • allows preheat your oven. If you put your cakes into a cold oven they will not cook evenly.
  • invest in a set of scales, ideally ones that measure in imperial and metric. Baking is a science, you need to weigh your ingredients accurately
  • always use a fairy cake tray to stand your cake cases in. If you don’t the weight of the cake mixture will cause the case to open out and your cakes will be big and flat.
  • weigh out all your ingredients before you start. There is nothing worse than discovering half way through making your cake that you don’t have enough flour or cocoa or baking powder!


4 oz butter or margarine

4 oz  caster sugar

5 oz self-raising flour

1 level teaspoon baking powder

2 eggs beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

a splash of milk


  1. Preheat oven to 160◦ C fan / 180 ◦ C. Place the cake cases into the cake tray.
  2. Beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. I use a Kenwood mixer but you can just as easily do it by hand, just make sure the butter is really soft.
  3. Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract
  4. Gently stir in the flour and baking powder until evenly mixed. You may need to add a splash of milk. The mixture should drop easily from a spoon.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the cake case until the cases are half full. I use a small ice cream scoop for this.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10-15 mins. It takes 12 minutes exactly in my fan oven. The cakes should be golden brown and well risen.
  7. Remove the cakes from the tray and place on a cooling rack.
  8. Once cooled the cakes are ready to decorate.

Decorating suggestions:

  • pipe a swirl of buttercream on the top of each cake
  • make them into butterfly cakes by cutting the crown of the cake off. Add a small blob of buttercream. Cut the removed crown in half and sink into the buttercream on an angle.
  • ice the cake with glace icing (icing sugar and water mixed into a stiff paste). Add half a cherry or sprinkles.

This recipe can easily be adapted too.  Try the following:

  • substitute 1oz of flour for 1 oz of cocoa
  • add a little grated lemon peel or orange peel to the mixture
  • add 1-2oz sultanas or raisins to the mixture
  • add 1-2oz quartered glace cherries to the mixture
  • add 1-2oz chocolate chips to the mixture

This recipe is perfect for that rainy Sunday afternoon when the kids need to be entertained and you need a nice tea time treat. They would be the perfect addition to any Diamond Jubilee street party feast too.



Ali xx



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