A fairy cake or cupcake is a small cake designed to serve one person, usually made in a small paper cup container. As with larger cakes, frosting and other cake decoration, such as sprinkles, are often applied.
Cupcakes are often served during a celebration, such as children's classroom birthday parties. They are a more convenient alternative to cake because they don't require plate, utensils or dividing into pieces because they are smaller. Cupcakes were first invented in the early 1800s.
A simple cupcake uses the same ingredients as most other standard cakes - incorporating butter, sugar, egg and flour.
The name "cup" cakes or "measure" cakes is believed to have developed because of the use of the practice of measuring the ingredients using a standard-sized cup instead of the previous practice of weighing the ingredients. The fact that these little cakes were baked in cup-shaped muffin baking containers gave double-meaning to the term "cup cake", and was probably the main factor for "cupcake" becoming the most common term.
It is also possible that cupcakes came into being simply as smaller versions of the victoria sponge cake, as the mixture required is exactly the same. The mixture is also the same as the quarter cake recipe, so called because it is made up of four ingredients in equal ratios; butter, self-raising flour, eggs and castor sugar.
125g fresh fruit, such as strawberries, peaches, apples, pears or bananas
125g soft margarine
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp natural vanilla extract or cinnamon or ground mixed spice
250g icing sugar
3 tbsp fruit juice or water
edible food colouring
sweets or tubes of writing icing, to decorate
1. Ask an adult to preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5 and chop the fruit into small pieces with a knife on the chopping board. Wash your hands, then put the paper cases in the bun trays.
2. Put the margarine and sugar in a large bowl. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Break in the eggs and add the vanilla extract, cinnamon or ground mixed spice.
3. Beat with a wooden spoon until evenly mixed ? the mixture should fall easily off the spoon when lightly tapped against the side of the bowl.
4. Stir the fruit into the cake mixture, and spoon into the cake cases, using a teaspoon. Ask an adult to cook them towards the centre of the oven for 18-20 minutes until risen, golden and springy to the touch.
5. Ask an adult to remove trays from the oven. Cool slightly, then lift out with a palette knife. Transfer to a cooling rack until cold.
6. To decorate, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the fruit juice or water a little at a time. Mix to a thick icing. Add food colouring, or leave half of the icing white and colour the remaining half.
7. Spoon a little icing on to each cake and spread with a knife. Leave to set. Decorate by sticking on sweets or drawing funny faces with writing icing.