First, let me give an explanation for the lack of posts in the past week. For the past 8 days I have virtually been running a hotel with no less than 3 sets of guests to put up and entertain back to back; first my dad for 3 nights, then my best friend and her husband visiting from Australia stayed 3 nights, one night off when I had to go out on serious blog business (of which there will be more details soon) and finally an overnight visit from my mum. Phew!
Despite my fantasy of drip feeding ready to publish posts, this is rarely the case so please excuse this hiatus. By way of an apology I have a little cupcake related giveaway below.
I’m still clearing the decks of Blogger posts that didn’t get published before I switched to WordPress, so today I’m sharing some cupcakes and a birthday cake that I made over the summer. On reviewing these photos I decided these specimens look more like fairy cakes but I am still calling them cupcakes as hardly anyone calls them fairy cakes lately.
Fairy cakes are more delicate, with less icing and more suited to children’s parties. Those buttercream heavy beasts sold in the West End would start sheer sugar warfare at the average toddler’s get together. When I make cupcakes, I usually lop off the tops and give a flat surface of buttercream… although a hybrid between the two, I’d call them cupcakes not fairy cakes. Yet here I left sponge showing… that to me, is the thing that marks these out as fairy cakes.
They were to accompany a birthday cake for Ted’s friend Archie.
“He’s adamant what he wants,” said his mum, “He wants a pink round cake. With a train.” No amount of persuading would convince Archie to have a boyish blue cake or one actually shaped like a train. Suggestions of a Thomas cake or Chuggington cake were met with “I’d like a pink round cake. With a train.” No point arguing really.
I was initially nervous about taking on cupcakes as well as a cake since Ted’s baptism was the following day and we were having a big family party. So we agreed to keep things quick and easy with vanilla cupcakes and piped vanilla buttercream. That week I’d received some samples of Dr Oetker products and these were ideal to decorate vanilla cupcakes in a hurry.
The sprinkles from the Dr Oetker Tea Party range included giant wafer daisies, “mini jazzies” which are like chocolate buttons covered in hundreds and thousands – I expect you remember similar sweets in the pick and mix bags of your youth (at least if you grew up in the 80s – I cannot vouch for their presence more recently) and mini chocolate hearts, moons and stars. You can easily pay £3.00 for a dozen wafer daisies so this kind, currently retailing at £1.09 in UK supermarkets, are good value in comparison. The jazzies were my favourites!
Here is Archie’s pink round cake. As ever, I was pushed for time when it came to taking pictures before collection and missed off the front of the train here! The marshmallows you see are puffs of smoke coming out of the engine. I had initially intended to use sweets or licorice all sorts to make the wheels but when it came to it, they wouldn’t stick properly and became black fondant balls instead. I cut the letters out using my Nigella Lawson Living Collection alphabet cookie cutters. If you look at the reviews on Amazon for these cutters you’ll see people bemoaning that they’re too small to make cookies. I think people are missing the point,they’re ideal for spelling words out on cakes.
The retro cupcake cases are by Rex International, not currently on Amazon but available from Gifts From Handpicked. I am on a high horse about cases recently – these ones are standard bun size rather than large muffin size. They soak up grease so they look best if you double them up.
As you may recall from previous cake decorating posts, I am not especially satisfied with my skills covering cakes with fondant icing. I did find the July heat made it easier to manipulate the fondant giving a smoother cover but there were still rough patches and a bit of cracking. Nevertheless Archie’s mum was delighted with it and it was gobbled up in quick time at the party.
Cupcake Sprinkles Giveaway!
I have had a little clear out of my vast cupcake sprinkle supplies and come up with a selection of items to give away.
A couple of them are Best Before the end of this month and dare I say it, the jelly diamonds were best before the end of July 2010 although to my knowledge noone has ever been poisoned by jelly sweets that were 2-3 months past their date. Anyway, it’s unlikely I will get to use these in the immediate future so I thought I’d pass them to a new home and have also thrown in a few other goodies that have several months left before they explode or whatever.
The selection comprises:
- Dr Oetker Chocolate Hearts
- Dr Oetker Barbie Glitter Writing Icing Gels
- Morrison’s Jelly Diamonds
- Morrison’s Hundreds and Thousands
- Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients “A Scatter of Mini Marshmallows”
This giveaway is open to all readers with a UK mailing address. International readers are also welcome to comment on the post however a new name will be selected until a UK reader has been drawn. The winner will be chosen using an online randomiser and announced in a subsequent post on this blog.
Closing date: midnight BST on Sunday October 10th.
Just one way to enter today, simply leave a comment on the bottom of this post telling me once and for all, Are they cupcakes or fairy cakes? Does anyone really care?Good luck!
Basic Vanilla Cupcakes with Buttercream Icing
90 minutes including cooling time and decorating
12 large muffin size cakes or 18 standard bun size or 24 mini muffin size
For the cupcake bases
125g self raising flour
125g caster sugar
125g softened butter
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
For the buttercream
250g icing sugar
80g softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
You will also need…
12 hole muffin tin and paper cases – or more smaller ones according to size desired (see above).
1. Preheat oven to 190c or gas mark 5. Simply quickly blitz all ingredients for the bases except the milk together in the food processor. Drizzle the milk in last through the funnel before pulsing a few times to a smooth batter. Do not over mix.
2. Spoon the batter into large muffin cases in a 12 hole muffin tray so that they are around two thirds full. Bake for around 15-18 minutes. For 12 large cupcakes I set the timer for 12 minutes, turn them around on the shelf and leave for another 6 minutes. For standard cupcake size and mini muffin size I set the timer for 10 minutes, turn around then give them a further couple of minutes until done.
3. The centres may erupt like little volcanoes but that’s ok, you can lop off these peaks if you want to ice them flat or pipe icing in a spiral to emphasis their shape!
4. When the cakes are done, a cocktail stick will just about come out dry. With practice you get the confidence to know how early this is, leaving them even a couple of minutes beyond this point will make your sponge too dry.
5. Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before covering with icing.
6. For the buttercream, beat the softened butter and milk with an electric hand mixer or free standing mixer until very soft and fluffy. Sift on the icing sugar several table spoons at a time and incorporate. The more you do at once the more it gets wafted round the kitchen covering everything so it’s best to go slow. When all the icing sugar is mixed in, add another tablespoon of milk if you think it’s still too stiff. Beat the buttercream with the mixer for several minutes, it will go fluffier and lighter. Remember that although it will be soft and squidgy now, the surface of the buttercream will go harder when it’s had a couple of hours to dry out on the surface of a cake.
7. Paste your buttercream over the cupcake bases using a small palette knife.
8. If colouring your buttercream, divide it into as many bowls you would like colours. Dip a cocktail stick into your gel food colouring and swirl around in the buttercream. Mix thoroughly with a small palette knife. Add further food colouring with a clean cocktail stick for a deeper colour.
Get to know your oven. You may need a higher or lower cooking temperature than me.
You can bake the cakes at 180c or gas mark 4 for slightly longer if you wish. This may help avoid the volcanic peaks.
Piping your batter into the paper cases is a way of avoiding getting mess on the sides of the cases (and unsightly burnt bits) but it’s time consuming and I find using a couple of spoons best.
Making buttercream in the food processor instead of with an electric hand mixer stops your kitchen getting covered in a cloud of icing sugar.
I’ve stipulated butter in the ingredients but actually I find baking margarine perfectly good for the cake bases. Don’t use it for the buttercream though!
Cupcake recipe recommendations:
Vanilla Fairy Cakes (Coffee and Vanilla)
Raspberry and white chocolate cupcakes (Cooksister)
Carrot cupcakes (Greedy Gourmet)
I always imagine fairy cakes to be boring and have no icing on, and they’re a bit more sugary than cupcakes too. That’s how I work it out.
I have the exact same pack of mini marshmallows in my cupboard! 😛 Great minds.
Gorgeous cupcakes! So pretty every one of them!
What cute cupcakes! Lovely.
Cheers and have a great Monday,
Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours says
We used to cut the top off the fairy cakes, add the icing and then cut the top half and stick it back on to be fairy’s wings. Was this a quirk particular to my Mother?
Sarah, Maison Cupcake says
Helen – those were called butterfly cakes. My husband always asks me to make them.
Carol Rivas says
We used to call them angel cakes 🙂 (she says 2 years later….)
Sarah, that was such an interesting post…i actually had no clue what the difference was between fairy cakes and cup cakes…but i now at least have a vague idea:)
I always wonder why the selection is so meager when it comes to cake decorations and accessories in the UK as compared to the US where there are just huge sections catering to these…sigh!
Thanks to oetker and such brands i at least have something to work with:)
well jolly glad to hear this being discuss as after making 70+ little cupcakes (aka fairy cakes!) for a charity do I was a bit confused. The baking papers said ‘cupcake’ but then they were fairy cake size so it’s good to have some sort of distinction to go on.
Fairy cake size would be my preferred option and given the world current dilemma with weight one would imagine the monster sugar&fat fest that is the normal sized cupcake really isn’t encouraging us towards ‘a little of what you fancy….’
Archie’s cake is fabulous and good for him that he knows what he wants AT 3!
Cupcakes are bigger in my opinion with more decoration on top. However, it doesn’t really matter as long as they taste nice! 🙂
I always think of fairy cakes as having the watery icing in pastel colours, the sort of thing I would of had at a birthday party as a kid. Also fairy cakes never seem to rise as much as a cupcake or have the nice light consistency. If it’s got buttercream I normally think of it as a cupcake!
I’ve always thought that cupcakes are frosted with buttercream and fairy cakes are smaller with royal icing on top so that’s what I’m sticking to!
All your cakes look very pretty 🙂 I’m about to do a sprinkles giveaway too – must be that time of year!
Helen @candyhandfuls says
I think the debate will rage on, but as long as they look beautiful and taste heavenly…who cares!
I’ve always thought fairy cakes were smaller and shorter than cupcakes. And agree that there is more sponge visible in a fairy cake which has less decoration on the top. Cupcakes are thicker, more topping and can even be savoury, unlike fairy cakes.
I would say fairy cakes and I don’t think I can even explain why I think that! My contribution to the cupcake v. fairy cake debate is that as with falling in love, you just know when you’re faced with them 😀
Forgot to say your cake looks lovely! You can’t tell that your fondant icing wasn’t perfect at all! I have yet to try fondant icing – and I know I’m in for all sorts of trouble when I do!
Heavenly Housewife says
What adorable creations. I am American, so I always call them cup cakes. That being said, the english version of a cupcake is definitely different. … but i like big fat cupcakes, the ones that go straight to your hips LOL.
Okay, this is really straightforward. Fairy cakes use the 2:1 ratio of flour sugar and butter to eggs and go into cases of a size that means I can get the cake into my mouth in one go. Cupcakes vary the amount of flour etc. according to the recipe and have milk in them and can only get into my mouth in one bite if I’m feeling particularly limber.
Those are definitely fairy cakes. They’re smaller than cupcakes and have less icing. But in Canada we’d call them all cupcakes.
And I LOVE Archie’s cake. Nothing wrong with a pink cake for a boy!
Fairy or cupcakes I love them both:) With or with frosting – I am always first in line.
When I was a child these would have been considered fairy cakes ( small & dainty). Cup cakes sat low in the baking case and had icing completely covering the cake(like a cup of icing). These days they are all called cup cakes. So pretty ;0)
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Oh I can imagine how utterly delighted she would have been with these! And aren’t you nice giving them to a good home. I’m out of the running but I bought up big on Dr Oetker when I was in the UK as I really like their stuff! 🙂
LOL! I say who cares as long as they are tasty! But yours are so pretty as well! And Archie – I don’t know, pink? Flowers? Hmmm.
And count me in on this! I’ll be in London end of November! No just kidding. Great party goodies again, Sarah!
MARY MULLARKEY says
I’ll be totally honest, I don’t really care. Fairy cakes, cup cakes, all the same to me.xx
Donna Gilligan says
I always thought buttercream on top was cupcakes (american) and fairy cakes had the traditional icing sugar and water mix, but maybe thats just me.
Karen Langridge says
I think cupcakes are just bigger fairy cakes, but honestly I don’t mind what they are called I just want to eat them all yum! x
Elaine Livingstone says
These are cup cakes, modern name for fairy cakes with lots of posh stuff on top, and much to nice to eat….lol
Michelle Rice (utterlyscrummy) says
I think cupcakes are bigger and fairy cakes are smaller. Just MHO though LOL. Both are delicious! NOM NOM NOM
claire woods says
I think they are cupcakes.
Wendy McDonald says
I always think of fairy cakes as little peaked plain sponge cakes, whereas a cupcake is flatter and covered in a frosting. Either way both are totally yummy! xxx
Alison T says
I always think cupcakes are bigger with a lot more icing fairy cakes are smaller with just a little icing on but really so long as they taste yummy it doesn’t bother me I just like cakes 🙂
patricia lunnemann says
perfect they look to good to eat but my grandchildren wouldn’t be long with them tasty tasty.
Louise Pearce says
I always call decorated cakes cupcakes and plain cakes fairy cakes. As long as look and taste good I don’t really care. lol.
Kelly P says
Cupcakes!! My friend makes really really scrummy baileys frosting cupcakes!!! x
They are cup cakes I think the difference is the icing.
Vanessa Cox says
I think they are the same: I sometimes call them cupcakes and sometimes fairy cakes! What’s for sure is they are both delicious and versatile! Yummy 🙂
FARIDAH BROOKER says
I always think of fairy cakes as being small and child sized with runny icing and a cherry on top. A cup cake is big and adult sized! In the end it doesn’t really matter – its all cake isn’t it!
I must be old-fashioned as they have always been fairy cakes to me.
Sarah Arnett says
Prefer to call them cupcakes as it gives me a classier image of a cake – a fairy cake is what i make with the kids and would never pass as a cupcake!!
jane morfett says
fairy cakes to are small plain sponge with white icing or buttercream and jam – cup cakes are bigger and more fancy
emma holder says
i prefer cup cake ,and they look more yummy and pretty than a fairy cake x
I think they are fairy cakes, and I much prefer them over cupcakes! fairy cakes a smaller and look cuter than cupcakes IMO.
Whatever you decide they are they look yummy!
Fairy cakes! They’re ‘shorter’ than a cupcake, and don’t have an overload of icing. But when they look this pretty, I’m not quibbling.
Julie Rayner says
Cup cakes are for grown ups! Hands off kids!!!
Jill Jones says
I still call them fairy cakes as that was brought up with but happy enough to munch my way through whatever anyone calls them.
Cupcakes, fairy cakes, any cakes just let me at ’em yum yum.
Patricia Edwards says
I think they are now cup cakes, if you want to stay with the times that is. All look delicious though
Tracy Newton says
Fairy cakes in this house. Always have been, always will be!!!! If they have currants or sultanas in then they are dead spider cakes. Well you did ask.
Lisa Ellert says
I thought Fairy Cakes are smaller than Cupcakes – more the sort of thing you had at birthday parties as a child!! Either way though – they look really lovely!!!
hannah evans says
Cupcakes r a little bit bigger than fairy cakes I think. They r also a lot more fashionable due to their desairy cakes are plainer xxxx
Mary Baldwin says
I think they are fairy cakes – cup cakes are larger, but what’s in a name after all. The craze is for cup cakes so call them that if that’s what people demand.
Growing up in England they were always called fairy cakes (and we did the butterfly cakes too!) Now I live in the US and they are called cup cakes. It is probably something to do with the measuring system here. No grams or ounces but ingredients are measured by the cup, 1/3, 1/4, 1/2 cup etc. And, cup cakes are much, much larger…..like everything else in the US!
Hi, i grew up with a mum who always baked “Fairy” cakes but she often made them into “butterfly” cakes cutting the top of and cutting the piece in half for wings…… i would say they are “Fairy” keep our british name, cupcakes i always think of as american, and they have loads of cream on them……whatever they are called i love them :)x
sue james says
they are definately fairy cakes…………..