Cupcakes, Fairy Cakes, or Buns?

I've recently bought one of these

the stand that is, not the cakes, - these were made by Claire for little Brown's 2nd birthday last weekend. And very delicious they were, obviously I had to try a couple in the interests of research....

 In fact, I've bought three of them, one each for my daughter and step-daughter, and one for me. We all like cooking, and I think they're quite a nice way of showing your little cakes off to advantage. There's a bit of a trend for having individual cupcakes instead of one large cake as a celebration cake at weddings and birthdays, and this would be ideal for such an occasion. They come in various sizes, this one is a 23er, but you can leave off the lower tier if you want to.

One of the first things I learned to cook as a young girl were Butterfly Cakes, little fairy cakes topped with butter cream and with the halved lids perched on top at a jaunty wing-like angle. I say fairy cakes, but I notice a current trend to refer to these little cakes as Cupcakes, I'm thinking that must be the American equivalent, and I also notice that they're tending to be a lot bigger than the ones I made as a child, another not altogether unwelcome trend if you're a fan of cake. And who isn't.  I can't help thinking though that some of the "cupcakes" I've seen illustrated would have served as dessert for a family of four in the old days. Just goes to show that not everything gets worse.

If you look on Amazon you will find literally dozens of books of recipes for cupcakes, which is quite amazing really, since, give or take a few additions, the basic idea is sponge cake baked in individual cases and decorated however you like. So call them Cupcakes if you're modern, or Fairy Cakes if you're posh, or, if you're from Yorkshire, more prosaically Buns, it all comes down to a fairly basic recipe and the rest is up to your imagination and patience. I fall back on my usual all in one sponge cake recipe, which I rehearse below -

All in one Sponge

4 eggs
1 pack 8oz/250g of butter at room temperature
8 ounces/250g of self raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon of cornflour
8 ounces/250g of caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
about 2 tablespoons milk

Put everything in food processor and switch on till blended. That's it. You might want to mix it without the milk first and then add as much milk as you think you need to get a soft, smooth, but not too runny mixture. Depends on the size of your eggs really.

Spoon into little cake cases or larger muffin cases or mini muffin cases, about 2/3rds full, and bake until golden.And when cold decorate with fondant, butter icing, glace icing, or whatever you like.


  1. I'm all for the smaller ones- not because I have a small appetit- au contraire- it gives me chance to try 2 or 3 different varieties. I vote for fairy cakes, it's much more magical than cupcakes and buns wouldn't be in little paper cases.

  2. Fab cakes! I use my Nan's cake recipe for my fairy cakes (ooh I am posh lol) and it works perfectly every time - I also use it to make large sponges. I so love the idea of using my family recipes - something warming to the heart about it. I will have to give your recipe a go though and taste test - obviously for scientific comparison reasons ;-)

  3. Tammy I agree with you!

    Sweetepeas - family recipes have a value all their own don't they, hope you like mine too

  4. Being an American, I call them cupcakes, but I really think the name "Fairy Cakes" does have a bit more class to it! As you know, you can really put a lot of work into making them pretty little works of art--Too pretty to eat in my view! :-)

  5. The stand does show these cakes off well. I keep toying with the idea of getting one, but not sure I can justify it - where would I keep it being the main criteria! Having read this, I'm now wondering if I should rename all my cupcakes, fairy cakes - they do sound more elegant.

  6. Choclette - Yes it's more space to find, but it does unscrew, and so goes fairly flat-ish.

  7. I'm only just reading this post on your blog but just want to say that they are definitely buns!


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