Fairy cakes. More commonly referred to as “cupcakes” (or so I assume).
I’m not sure why they’re called “fairy cakes.” It makes them sound magical somehow or possibly like they turn on like fairy lights or even more possibly like they’re filled with dish soap. (Don’t Brits have something called Fairy Liquid? Isn’t that a thing? No? Am I just remembering something that doesn’t exist? Again? Cool.)
The reason I chose this recipe is two-fold. Fold number one is that I have had a very full week both at work and in my personal life and my brain capacity is too low for any recipe higher than a one spoon (or really any recipe at all, but I’m trying to push myself). Fold number B is that this is a cake recipe and it’s been a while since I made a cake and I’m still trying to get those numbers of how many remaining recipes I have in each section to even out.
So here we are, in the hour-and-a-half span I have between work and evening plans, baking fairy cakes.
First up, as it is so often, butter. Julia Child would be so proud.
What makes me especially proud is this is the exact amount of butter needed. No shavings required to get that measurement spot on. I’m getting so good at this.
Then I have to add the sugar and eggs and vanilla and blend.
Except I somehow managed to already make a mistake.
I forgot a somewhat crucial ingredient.
Flour. And baking powder. Added by guessing, not by measuring, because I needed baking powder but I also needed self-raising flour and since self-raising flour is just regular flour with baking powder, I just kept sprinkling in baking powder until it looked like too much.
So after sifting that into the mixture that looked terrible because I beat it too early…
…I made a mixture that looked equally bad.
But Mary and Paul told me to keep mixing for two to three minutes, so I obeyed, hoping that the giant chunks of butter would sort themselves out. And they did!
The mixture got smooth and was ready to be scooped out evenly into their paper cups.
I thought I’d be really clever at this stage and ensure quality control by using my melon baller.
Unfortunately, my melon baller is way too tiny and I realized it was going to take forever.
So I started scooping with an actual spoon and then measured each cup.
After some measuring and remeasuring and re-remeasuring, I learned the goal was around 35 grams each, so that’s what I tried to do. And I ended up with twelve cups filled up haphazardly that I couldn’t get smooth without folding the delicate parchment paper.
Thankfully, I didn’t really care so into the oven they went for 10 minutes, only to be rotated and left in for another 5.
*15 minutes later*
Good news! Those lumps sorted themselves out.
So that’s done in time for me to not only eat some dinner (easy ramen), but also to not be late for my plans.
*several hours later*
So I was going to make the buttercream icing and then put it in the fridge overnight and assemble in the morning, but I got home and, after a week of too many plans, just wanted to crash with Friends playing in the background. So that’s what I did, telling myself I could make buttercream in the morning.
*the next morning*
Who makes buttercream in the morning? Why, Past Me, why did you do this? Why did you even bake? All I wanted this morning was enjoy a cup of coffee and you went and had to throw effort into the mix.
Specifically effort on something I have been proven to have issues with.
I’ve always struggled with this substance. I struggled with it with the chocolate cake disaster of old. I struggled with it one time when I made something that just tasted liked whipped butter. I got it right at one point, but that was by fluke if I recall correctly.
Basically I’m scared guys. Hold my hand.
First up, beat the butter until it’s the consistency of mayonnaise.
Is this mayo-tastic?
Sure. It has to be because it’s 7 a.m. and I do not care.
Next up, measure out your icing sugar and sift it over the butter.
Now here’s the thing about this recipe. It says to top the fairy cakes with either vanilla buttercream or lemon buttercream. Vanilla is the classic go-to (with instructions on the previous page) but lemon buttercream sounds delicious. Cut to me reading the lemon buttercream instructions and finding out it involves lemon curd.
Lemon curd? At this hour? Are you insane?
So I went with chocolate.
Because given the choice between vanilla and chocolate, who chooses vanilla? Crazy people. And my one niece one time.
Next up, sift the icing sugar (and cocoa powder) over the butter. Simple right? Should be simple?
It is not simple. The sifter kept seizing up and I’d have to shake it and then sift again and then shake it and sift again. It was a long process, and when I looked in the bowl, I found this:
And then I got near the bottom of the sifter and realized the icing sugar was clumping.
After managing to sift out the clumps, I ended up with one cohesive mountain.
I was sad to see it go but I also just wanted my morning coffee.
So I added the vanilla and milk (read: some of the cream that I use for said morning coffee). And mixed it with a spatula before getting the electric mixer, because the last thing I needed was to be sprayed with icing sugar and cocoa powder at this stage of the day.
Then I used the electric mixer and ended up with this beauty:
I mean is it a beauty? I have no idea. But I don’t care enough to try again.
I also don’t care enough to do what I had originally planned to do and get out my yet-unused piping set.
So these suckers are getting some sloppy icing put on with a butter knife.
Aren’t they wonderfully hideous? Turns out using a knife is real tricky, especially when the paper cups go up past the top of the cupcake (sorry, fairy cake), and, you know, it’s pre-coffee at 7 in the a.m.
Have I mentioned I’m not a morning person? Or did you just get that from context?
Good enough, right?
In my opinion, though, beautifully decorated cakes and bakes aren’t as appetizing as messily decorated ones because you don’t want to eat art. It’s like Christmas sugar cookies. Whenever I decorated them as a kid, I would throw on as much icing as possible with as many sprinkles as possible while my sister would decorate beautiful designs with a piping bag. Hers were always featured on the top of the pile, but I always ate mine first. (At least this is what I’m telling myself to justify truly horrendous decorating skills.)
UPDATE: It was good enough for my peers. They disappeared real quick and I even had to save a couple on a separate plate for people who weren’t present. Everyone enjoyed them. No one had any complaints. And that’s really it.
To be honest, this is a super easy recipe to make in a jiffy so I’ll probably make them again and try variations on the classic vanilla sponge.
Yay! Another good recipe! Now to sleep. Or drink coffee. What time is it? What day it is? I have no idea.