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Easy Cakes > Anything Goes Fairy Cakes 4 January 2009

Posted by cath in cakes and treats, comfort food, easy, Recipes.
5 comments

Fairy Cakes

These are basic sponge cakes, and the best thing is that you can use pretty much any flavouring you like – it’s a really versatile recipe. Anyone can make these simple little cakes, they are easy and quick. The basic recipe here makes 12 cakes – but can be scaled up as required. In fact, the basic mix can also be divided and flavoured in different ways to bake a selection of cakes. You will need small paper cases to bake them in.

I use a food processor to make the mix, it’s done in a few simple steps and does not take long. They are made by the creaming method which involves beating butter and sugar together and incorporating lots of air, similarly with the eggs. Sieved self-raising flour is then added along with flavouring. Care is needed to keep the mixture light, so it rises – this is not a dense, gooey brownie!

Coffee and Walnut Fairy Cakes

Coffee and Walnut Fairy Cakes

There are some tricks to getting it right and here are my top tips:

  1. Don’t use fridge cold eggs, these tend to curdle the mixture more easily than room-temperature eggs. I also take the precaution of lightly beating the eggs with a whisk prior to adding.
  2. It’s also best to soften the butter so its a good idea to leave the butter out of the fridge as well.
  3. Pre-heat the oven, it needs to be hot, and you must put the cakes in to cook straight away, this is not a mix that can be prepared in advance (but the finished cakes will last for a few days if kept in an airtight tin).
  4. In fact beating the soft butter as a first step adds lightness to the cake mix – and is definitely worthwhile if your butter is at all cold – so if you haven’t followed tip 2 you can recover somewhat here :)
  5. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to cream the butter and sugar, I would suggest at least 5 minutes of beating on the highest setting, if not more, depending on the type of mixer you are using. Keep scraping down the bowl to ensure even mixing
  6. Once the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, it is time to add the eggs. Add them in bit by bit (e.g. add 2 beaten eggs in at least 3 additions), beat well each time. The mixture will be come quite liquid, but will still be thick and creamy looking. For extra security against curdling the mix, you can add a teaspoon of ground almonds with each addition of egg (up to 3 teaspoons).
  7. Adding the flour and any dried ingredients (nuts, cocoa, dried fruit etc.) must be done with care, quickly and without excess mixing. I use the pulse button on the processor – add 1/3 of the flour and press for a single pulse, perhaps 2 then scrape down and add the next 1/3. Add this similarly, and continue to the last addition of flour, scraping down the sides and pulsing once or twice more to ensure the flour and other dry ingredients are mixed – but only just.
  8. The mixture should be thick, and reluctantly drop from a spoon – it shouldn’t pour or be too stiff. If it falls, it is too thin and you should add a tablespoon more sieved flour to stiffen it. Or you can add a teaspoon of milk to adjust the mixture to be more fluid. Try out the recipes suggested here first and get used to the consistency of the mixture first, then experiment with your own flavours. Be careful making these additions – don’t over mix the cake now, it will reduce the air incorporates so far. Also be measured in your additions, cakes require careful balance of quantities – you won’t need to adjust these quantities much for different mixtures.
  9. When you’re done, quickly spoon the mixture into paper cases – you want to roughly half-fill them, 1 rounded tablespoon is roughly enough. Bake them straight away, in a fairly hot oven (180 deg C in a fan oven) for 12-15 minutes. Don’t take them out too early, or the sponge will not have fixed, and they may sink again. However, after 12 minutes you can safely test the middle of a cake with a skewer – it should come out clean, if not, return for 2-3 minutes and try again. Of course, if you use bigger paper cases, or overfill them, the cakes will take longer to cook.
  10. Remove the cakes from the tin straight away and leave to cool completely in their paper cases on a wire rack. You will see some condensation under the cases as you remove them from the tin – if you don’t remove them to cool on a rack, they will sweat and the cases and cakes will get damp and soggy – so don’t forget this step!

Flavouring

Now for the variety of flavouring you can add. There are basically three types of flavourings that can be added. Using liquid flavourings such as coffee, vanilla extract etc. demands a little more flour in the recipe to keep the mixture together. Adding dry, powdery ingredients such as cocoa powder, grated chocolate, drinking chocolate or ground nuts requires that the flour content be reduced by the equivalent weight. Chopped nuts, dried fruit etc. are easily added as an extra, without need to adjust the main quantities.

So with minimal tweaks the basic mixture can be combined to make any combination of flavours. Add icing for a sweet treat or keep them plain for a healthier snack.

The Recipe

Here are two versions of the basic recipe – this one uses added dry cocoa, and thus slightly less flour.

Cocoa Fairy Cakes

Ingredients

125 g softened butter

125 g caster sugar

2 large eggs

some ground almonds (3 tsp max)

110 g self-raising flour

1 small pinch table salt

15 g cocoa powder – I’ve been experimenting with using finely grated Venezuelan Black 100% cocoa bar (http://williescacao.com/) but you can use any good cocoa powder.

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 deg C (Fan oven).

2. Beat the butter well until smooth, then add the caster sugar and beat until the mixture lightens and gets fluffy (5-10 minutes).

3. Lightly beat the 2 eggs together then add a bit at a time to the mixture, beating well between additions and adding 1 or 2 tsp of ground almonds with the egg (see tip 6 above).

4. Sieve the flour and cocoa together with the salt. Add 1/3 at a time to the mixture and fold in (pulse in 2 or 3 short bursts) until everything is combined.

5. The mixture should drop slowly from a spoon, divide the mixture into the 12 paper cases in a patty tin.

6. Bake in the oven immediately, for 12-15 minutes. Check they are done using a skewer, which should come out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Use this basic recipe if you want to add dry flavourings to your cakes, or try this one which uses coffee and vanilla extract as liquids for flavouring, and thus slightly more flour. This one also contains chopped walnuts.

Coffee, Walnut and Vanilla Fairy Cakes

Ingredients

125 g softened butter

125 g caster sugar

2 large eggs

some ground almonds (4 tsp approx.)

140 g self-raising flour

1 small pinch table salt

4 tsp strong made coffee

2 tsp vanilla extract

70g chopped walnuts – reserve some for decorating.

Method

1. Follow the directions 1-3 above.

2. Add the coffee and vanilla extracts along with a teaspoon or 2 of ground almonds. Beat together.

3. Sieve the flour with the salt. Add 1/3 at a time to the mixture and fold in (pulse in 2 or 3 short bursts) until everything is combined.

4. Quickly mix in the walnuts using a few pulses.

5. The mixture should drop slowly from a spoon, add another spoon of coffee or vanilla if required to loosen it.

6. Divide the mixture into the 12 paper cases in a patty tin and bake in the oven immediately, for 12-15 minutes. When done, turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Use this basic recipe if you want to add liquid flavourings to your cakes.

Finishing Touches

For a sweet treat, icing the top of the cakes is easy to make. Try these basic quantities and adapt the flavours to suit your cakes.

Chocolate Icing

120g icing sugar

60 g softened butter

2 tbsp cocoa powder

Beat together all the ingredients until light and fluffy. If you use a processor, the mixture may first turn into a large ball, but persistent beating will smooth the mix into a spreadable topping. Add 1-2 tsp of strong made coffee, or milk, to loosen the mixture to an easier spreadable consistency (if required). Decorate with a sprinkle of cocoa powder or icing sugar.

Cappuccino Icing

4 tsp strong made coffee

1 tsp vanilla extract

120g icing sugar

60 g softened butter

2 tbsp finely grated chocolate or cocoa

Beat all the ingredients together into a soft, fluffy, spreadable icing. Decorate with chopped nuts, flaked almonds or grated chocolate.

Other toppings to try:

Melted chocolate – 55g cooking chocolate, broken into chunks, melted then spread on the cakes and left to solidify.

Chocolate and hazelnut spread makes a quick and easy topping.

Simpler water icing (100 g icing sugar plus a few drops of water at a time added and mixed well – be careful not to make the icing to thin, it will run! You can always add more icing sugar to thicken it again).

Many, many more…

So, experiment with your favourite flavours in small cake form – and let us know what combinations you like best!

Print the basic fairycakes recipe (opens pdf).

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