Friday, 30 March 2012

Basic Vanilla Fairy Cakes

I make vanilla fairy cakes a lot because I really like them, and so do most people I bake them for.  I figured since a lot of my planned decoration experiments will use my vanilla cakes as a base I should dedicate a blog entry to the recipe so people can refer back to it.  It also means I have something to link people to whenever I get asked for my recipe in future (I've already written it out twice for people at my former workplace).

I make my cakes by hand since I don't have a mixer and because it's how I've done it since I was a child.  Feels extra home made if you put all the extra work in.

Ingredients - Makes 12 cakes

  • 4oz/110g caster sugar
  • 4oz/100g unsalted butter (I recommend Stork) at room temperature (makes it easier to mix)
  • 2 eggs at room temperature (cold eggs are more likely to curdle the batter)
  • 1-2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 4oz/110g self raising flour 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line a cake tray with 12 cake cases.  It doesn't matter too much if you don't have a proper tray with holes in.  I used to just put my cases on a tray.  The only problem is they might end up a bit misshapen, so it's probably worth investing in a holed tray, or silicone cupcake moulds.
  2. Put the sugar and butter in a large bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon.  You want to do this until the mixture is 'light and fluffy'.  Basically you want the mixture to be as pale a yellow as possible since that means the sugar is properly worked into the butter.  (Stork butter starts out really bright yellow so it's easy to tell when it's gone pale).  This is usually about 5-10 minutes of mixing.
  3. In a separate, small bowl or jug beat the eggs with a whisk.  A fork works too but the whisk gets more air into the eggs, which will help the cake rise.
  4. Add a little bit of the egg and mix into the butter/sugar mixture until it disappears.  Repeat until all the egg is gone.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
  6. Sift the flour into the bowl with the rest of the batter and then fold it in.  DON'T MIX!  And if doing this with a mixer, I suggest doing this bit by hand.  Folding is a bit tricky to explain so I'll let the BBC do it instead (the light mixture they refer to would be the flour and the heavy would be the batter).  Keep folding until you can't see any more flour.
  7. Spoon the mixture into the cases, trying to spread it evenly.  I usually do it a spoonful at a time.  So put one spoonful in each case and then go back to the start and do another spoonful until all the mixture is gone.  If you really wanted to, you could weigh them.
  8. Put in the oven for about 20 minutes.  You may have to turn the tray half way through cooking so they get an even bake.  Keep an eye on them in the last couple of minutes and use a skewer (or toothpick or pointed, thin end of a teaspoon) to test if they are cooked.  When inserted into the centre and pulled out, if it comes out clean then it's done.
  9. When baked, removed from oven and leave to cool on a rack.
  10. Decorate as you please. 

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