So, what are Fairy Cakes anyway?
Fairy cakes are not, as their name might imply, themed cakes designed and decorated to the liking of mystical, fantasy enthusiasts. They are, simply stated, smaller versions of cupcakes. They’re widely popular in the UK, and tend not to pile on the icing in the same way that American bakers do with cupcakes. On the other hand, fairy cakes use a lighter glace icing. They also are traditionally made with a lighter sponge cake as opposed to the thicker butter cakes used in cupcakes.
Alternatively, a fairy cake is a type of cupcake with its top cut off and replaced in two pieces, like wings. These are also called butterfly cupcakes.
The history of the fairy cake is similar to the history of the cupcake, which first shows up in literature at the end of the 1700s, in “American Cookery,” described as “a cake to be baked in small cups.” Muffin tins weren’t always an available product, so bakers instead baked cupcakes in ramekins or individual pottery cups.
Before the cupcake revolution at the beginning of the century the Americans and the British both waxed poetic about their nostalgic longing for the desserts, which were both staples at children’s birthday parties. Cupcakes have since become a food for adults as well, especially in America.
Of course, the petite fairy cakes are named as such because of their size — small enough to be served to the tiny mythical creatures. The word “fairy” (or “fairie”) appeared around 1300, referring to “enchantment” and “magic.” We certainly agree that fairy cakes and cupcakes are both enchanting and magical.
My simple fairy cakes are denser than the traditionally fashioned, impish cakes. They are moist, bursting with flavorful raspberry filling and a generous kiss of buttery lemon cream frosting.
- 1 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
- ½ cup Greek yogurt, or sour cream
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon Butter Cream Frosting:
- 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2½ cups powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon lemon oil
- Colored sprinkles
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Line mini muffin/cupcake tins with paper or foil liners.
- Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment.
- Add butter, yogurt or sour cream, eggs, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula and mix by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.
- Divide batter evenly among cups of prepared tin.
- Bake until cupcake tops are lightly golden and toothpick into center comes out clean, 12 to 16 minutes.
- Remove cupcakes from tin and transfer to wire rack; cool cupcakes to room temperature before frosting.
- Seedless Raspberry Preserves
- Fill a frosting bag (ziplocs work well too) with 1 cup of seedless preserves.
- Fit with a large round piping tip.
- Plunge tip into middle of each cake, about 1″ into the center.
- Squeeze preserves into cake until cake is filled and preserves start to extend over the top. *It’s okay to have a little extra on top of the cake–the frosting will cover the extra and you will have more intense raspberry flavor with each bite.
- Using the wire whisk attachment of your mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping to scrape the bowl once or twice.
- Reduce speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar. Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and add the vanilla, mixing until incorporated. Whip at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Spread or pipe frosting onto fairy cakes evenly.
Makes 24 mini sized cakes
Story adapted from Huffpost Taste