Old-fashioned fairy cakes: A perfect way to get the kids baking

These treats might conjure extra luck for both Dublin and Kerry as generations gather to watch the replay

A little baking won’t go amiss as generations of families gather to watch the Gaelic football final replay, Dublin clashing once again with Kerry. I thought these old-fashioned fairy cakes might conjure extra luck for both sides. Even little ones can be included in the excitement of the day, by helping to make them for a pre-match snack.

I have a soft spot for fairy cakes. They bring back so much nostalgia and memories of childhood parties and standing on tip toes helping with the baking. They look so sweetly simple, with a swirl of freshly whipped cream and floating butterfly wings.

For the lightest fairy cakes, the butter and sugar should be creamed together until very pale and very fluffy. Using soft butter will speed up the process and an electric whisk makes it easier to do. Fairy cakes are so forgiving, they are brilliant to bake with kids. They love to get involved with mixing the batter and filling the cases. With a little adult help to cut the fairy wings, they’ll have a fantastic time decorating their fairy cakes.

The supermarket baking aisles are overflowing with sprinkles and decorations, if that takes your fancy. You can ring the changes year round with all manner of toppings. At the height of summer, add blueberries and lemon zest. In the autumn, pumpkin seeds and praline add a more sophisticated touch. Candied orange slices with toasted caraway seeds make a great winter twist.


Resist the temptation to pimp these up with Oreos, Maltesers and Milky Ways. I promise you, little ones will be happiest decorating these magical fairy wings with a blob of fresh cream, sweetened with icing sugar and touch of orange zest.


Makes 12 

100g butter, room temperature, soft
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
½tsp vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour, sieved
150g cream
30g icing sugar (plus extra for optional coloured icing)
1tsp orange zest
Optional decoration: sugar baubles, food colouring

Preheat an oven to 180 Celsius, or equivalent. Fill the holes in the baking tin with bun size paper cases.

2 Place the butter and caster sugar in a mixing bowl. Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (if the butter is very soft you can use a wooden spoon or handheld balloon whisk to do this).

3 Slowly whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla extract.

4 On a low speed, add the self-raising flour and mix until fully combined.

5 Use a spoon to dollop the batter into the paper cases, filling each not more than two thirds full (this allows space for the batter to rise up evenly without spilling over the edges).

6 Bake for 15 minutes, until golden and risen (pierce with a cocktail stick, if it comes out clean, they are cooked). Leave in the tin for five minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

7 Meanwhile, whip the cream with the icing sugar and orange zest, whipping to a stiff consistency (alternatively, make a coloured icing, gradually stir teaspoons of water into icing sugar until it is the consistency of thick cream, and add colouring as required).

8 For fairy wings, slice the top off each bun and cut it in half to create two wings. Cover the bun with a blob of stiffly whipped cream, or icing, and position the two wings on top. Alternatively, cover the tops of the cooled buns with icing and decorative sprinkles, then allow to set.

Decorate with fresh berries, chopped nuts, seeds, crystallised flowers or freeze dried fruit.