HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT

October 02, 2017

Vanilla Fairy Cakes
with White Chocolate Icing

100s and 1000s. The joy of many children's faces where fairy cakes are involved. As far back as I can remember, fairy cakes were one of the first things I learnt to bake, smothered in white icing and dotted with dolly mixture or coated in sugar sprinkles to take to school for bake fairs and lunchtime snacks. I'd stand on a stool in the kitchen, so my tiny hands could reach the counter, wooden spoon at the ready and apron on, in charge of the fairy cake production line. 

I remember wanting to pour out my 100s and 1000s, dip my finger in the icing and then plunge it into the kaleidoscopic mass of sugar, licking the gloopy glaze before it fell on the floor. Instead, I dropped the container. Multi-coloured ball bearings began piling out, scattering everywhere, bouncing joyfully into the slits between our wooden floorboards, the harmonious tick-tick of each sugar coated sphere ricocheting around the room, until each one eventually stopped, rolling around before coming to a halt. And the room fell silent again. 



My face would give it all away. When asked what had happened, I'd reply with "it was an accident" as my mum swept up the particles into a dustpan. I'd flash a cheeky grin and get away with it, as I managed to on many more occasions. The fun part was licking the bowl afterwards, scraping my spoon around trying to get every last bit of batter and then sitting cross-legged in front of the oven, watching as the fluffy mountain peaks appeared, browning ever so slightly. 

There was always the desire to peel away the fanned paper cases whilst the cakes were still warm, but if I'd just waited a few moments more, the shiny icing and decorations would have made them even more of a treat. Icing was my sweet spot. I once decided to "ice" an entire room when holidaying in France at the age of eight; shaking an entire bottle of Johnson's baby powder out onto the floor. The discovery of me smirking in my pink dungarees covered head to toe in white talc, grasping the 600g plastic bottle gave it all away. No cheeky grin would get me out of this one. 

Sometimes the simple recipes are the most comforting. Nostalgia is a great thing, especially when it comes from a finger-full of whipped icing coated in crazy colours. Get your tongue round that and you'll remember reaching for the fairy cakes at your best friend's sixth birthday party or like I did, time-travel back to the kitchen worktop with a cake-splattered recipe book to bake your first fairy cakes: a fluffy vanilla sponge, topped with white chocolate buttercream icing and dipped generously into a bowl of rainbow embellishment. Because really, what's not to like?  





Vanilla Fairy Cakes with White Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Makes 12 regular or 36 mini cupcakes
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225g goldencaster sugar
2 eggs
150g self-raising flour, sifted
125g plain flour, sifted
120ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

100g white chocolate
100g butter, softened
100g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste 
100s and 1000s

For the fairy cakes

1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan/180C/gas mark 4 and line a muffin or cupcake tray with the appropriate size cupcake cases.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and smooth (about 3-5mins) using an electric hand whisk, then add the vanilla bean paste and mix again.
3. Agg the eggs, one at a time, rising for a few minutes after each addition.
4. Combine the two flours in a separate bowl. Put the milk in a jug.
5. Add one-third of the flours to the creamed mixture and beat well. Pour in one-thad of the milk and beat again. Repeat these steps until all the flour and milk have been added.
6. Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, filling them about two-thirds full.
7. Bake in the oven for about 25mins, or 15mins for mini fairy cakes until slightly raised and brown. To check they are ready, insert a cocktail stick into the centre of one of the cakes - it should come out clean. 
8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for about 10mins before carefully placing on a wire rack to cool completely. 

For the icing

1. Place the chocolate into a pyrex bowl and set over a saucepan of boiling water, ensuring the bowl does not touch the water. Melt the chocolate on a low heat until entirely melted, stirring all the time, then set aside to cool.
2. Cream the butter with an electric hand whisk, then add the vanilla bean paste and whisk again until smooth.
3. When the white chocolate is cool, add it to the butter and whip again until fully incorporated. 
4. Add the icing sugar in two separate stages, beating well after each addition. If you want a thicker icing, add a little more. 
5. Ice your fairy cakes, then tip the container of 100s and 1000s into a bowl and dip your iced fairy cakes into the bowl ensuring they cover the entire cake.

Cake mixture from Cupcakes from The Primrose Bakery

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