British Fairy Cakes
Updated: Apr 5, 2020
I am overwhelmed with the idea that within 24hrs so many people have already viewed my blog. I woke up this morning with emails letting me know that there were people subscribing at 3am, so I can only presume they are in New Zealand. Kia Ora! We really are all in this together.
I also awoke to a wonderful picture of a little three-year-old who had been scavenger hunting and was beaming from ear to ear with her nature crown on her head. I can’t explain how much this warms my heart.
Today I decided to do an old English children’s classic, baking fairy cakes. Fairy cakes bring back of so many lovely memories of baking with my mum and brothers on weekends.
I chose fairy cakes because they are simple. I’m sure everyone of us has the ingredients sitting their cupboards.
Whether you decide to follow this recipe, or choose another family classic to bake, I encourage you to get out the mixing bowl and bake with your little ones.
Why I love baking with children:
Baking provides endless opportunities to introduce new words to children learning to talk, “MIX, MIX, MIX!”. Never forget little children’s minds are like sponges. Every new experience provides an opportunity for learning. We never know what is being absorbed by those little grey cells, so keep feeding them by constantly talking your way through each step. You also get a delicious end treat, which you have had complete control over, and know every single ingredient in the product.
I love to give children the freedom to crack the eggs, even at one. Yes, it is inevitable that shell will get into the yoke, but using a bigger piece of shell it is easy to take out. Allowing children to crack eggs, works those fine manipulative skills. The excitement of discovering a yoke and how it comes flowing out of the egg is quite fascinating.
For older children, take this opportunity to talk about the ingredients and where they come from. Some egg boxes come with a small story about the chickens that laid the eggs. They also sometimes include a website, where you can actually watch chickens that have laid your eggs LIVE . Like this:
I love seeing the chickens, and although they can’t hear me, I like to call out “Thank you for my eggs Mrs. Chicken!”
Baking also offers countless opportunities for reading and math. Those who can read, should be reading the instructions. It may be slow, and you may be able to read it three times faster, but it is important to remember, there is no hurry. Let the child take their time, help them with the words, and let them find the ingredients in the cupboard or fridge. Again, I know you can gather these things twice as quick, but we all start somewhere, why not start today? Get the children to count the scoops of flour that make up the cups or grams. If there is a little bit too much flour, ask how many scoops did you do? How many do you now have to take out to get the right amount? Subtraction!
Use this time to talk about your baking memories and share family secrets. To you, they may seem like things that you just do naturally, but I’m sure there are plenty of others who don’t know these techniques. For example, I was in college, whipping up some cream for a Victoria sponge, and I just automatically added a little bit of confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) and a tad of vanilla essence which my grandpa had passed to my mum, who had passed on to me. This doesn’t alter the consistency of the cream at all, but adds a little bit of extra flavor. My food technology teacher had never seen this and shared it with the class. So, I’m sure there are little bits of family traditions you can share, and this is the perfect time to do it!
I shall not ramble any more and get on with the recipe and baking. Last note, remember this is another activity family members can still do over skype/ facetime. You can hold your own LIVE baking shows with one another and take each step together! I love doing it with my mum.
Of course cleaning up is all part of the process; but a sink full of warm BUBBLY water can be just as fun for children, and offers the opportunity for water and sensory play.
British Fairy Cakes
· It is important to note, for my fellow Americans, I have translated this recipe into cups, and that is what I have used today and the cakes have come out fine. If you do have scales at home, grams are what's best.
Note: These cakes are on the sweet side. If you are worried about your child getting a little rambunctious you can reduce the sugar.
1 cup (125g) Sugar
9 tbsp (125g) Unsalted Butter * The longer this can be out of the fridge before commencing baking the better as it will make the mixing for little hands easier.
1 cup (125g) All purpose flour (Self-Raising Flour)
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
1 Tbsp Milk
For the buttercream frosting (Icing)
1 ¼ cups (250g) Confectioners’ sugar * Today I don’t actually have confectioners sugar, so if you are like me, you can use regular sugar and place it in a small food processor which is probably sitting in the back of your cupboard from when you were (or maybe still are) pureeing babies food. Blitz it a few times until sugar granules are looking finer. I did this in batches to make it easier.
10 Tbsp (150g) Butter
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
*Optional: 4 Tbsp Jam - I like strawberry, but raspberry works wonderfully or any jam of your choice!
A little bit of confectioners (icing) sugar to sprinkle over the finished product!
Remember, if something goes wrong in these steps, it doesn’t matter, just continue on. They don’t have to be to Nigella Lawsons standard, this is just a fun learning activity, it doesn’t matter how they come out 😊!
First lay out all your ingredients, place your cupcake cases in their tin and preheat oven to 350F / 180C (160C for fan)
Mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Then add one egg at a time, mixing the batter inbetween each egg.
Sift flour into the mixture and mix with a large metal spoon.
Add vanilla essence and milk, and mix until everything is encorperated.
Scoop one heaped small spoonful of batter into each case and place in oven for 25mins.
Cook until skewer or fork comes out clean.
Let cool on a cooling rack.
Once cool, cut off the top, and slice top in half, so you are left with two semi circles. These will be your wings.
Make buttercream by mixing just the butter until its creamy and slowly adding the sugar. Mix until its all combined. Add vanilla essense. If the mixture is still stiff, you can add a dash of milk.
Spread buttercream over the cupcake and insert wings. Pour a little bit of jam in between the wings. Alternatively for little hands, don't worry about cutting the top off the cake, cover cupcake with buttercream, a small dollop of jam and a a little fresh fuit.
You just made a British tradition.
I enjoy mine with a cup of tea.