Sunday, 2 November 2008

Clare's perfect sponge recipe part 2

Now you've got your perfect fairy cakes, here are some thoughts and variations on the theme


Once they’ve cooled down you can decorate them as you please. There are several kinds of icing, but the one I think works best whether your cakes have perfect smooth tops, are hiding in the cases or a bursting out of the top, is buttercream. It covers a multitude of sins and it’s very easy to achieve gorgeous looking results.

We'll blog our fabulous buttercream icing recipe next so you can make this with the greatest of ease.

Some extra thoughts and tips

The professional touch…

Many top bakers drench their cooked sponges in sugar syrup. It makes them extra moist and delicious. Simply combine equal parts caster sugar and water in a saucepan (100ml water and 100g sugar for 12 fairy cakes). Heat gently and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and then remove from the heat and let cool completely. Dribble the syrup over your cakes – it will soak in. Mmmmm. If you’ve made flavoured fairy cakes, add half a teaspoon or so of matching flavour to the sugar syrup (e.g. vanilla extract, lemon zest or cordial), or for a grown up touch add a wee tipple…


These cakes will keep un-iced in an airtight tin for up to a week (so I’m told!). You can also freeze them. Wrap well in clingfilm and/or foil and an airtight container. Un-wrap to defrost.

Bulk baking

I often make fairy cakes for the school fete. When I do, I’m mean with the mixture – half-filled cases only. More cakes mean more money for the school coffers. You can do 3 times this recipe with ease, just buy or borrow enough bun tins for the occasion, make sure they fit in your oven and use a piping bag to fill your paper cases.

Baking with children

Children LOVE baking and they LOVE making a mess. Accept it, go with it and don’t worry about the results. Let them stir with a wooden spoon before the mixer moves in. To decorate make a simple glace/water icing (icing sugar with tablespoons of hot water added gradually to get the right consistency and a few drops of colouring). Then let them loose with spoons for the icing and a plethora of sprinkles and sweets to spread all over the kitchen, I mean cakes.

Recipe variations

This basic sponge recipe can be tweaked in many ways. You could flavour the basic mixture. For lemon add the zest of a lemon and, for chocolate cake replace 50g of the butter with 50g of good quality dark chocolate (melted over a pan of simmering water first).

Or you could make filled fairy cakes. Slice a little lid off the cooked sponges, hide a teaspoon of jam, lemon curd, chocolate spread or some such underneath and then replace the lid. Ice the cakes to complete the disguise.

Or make a traditional Victoria sponge, which after all is what this recipe is, at heart. Cook the mixture in 2 greased or lined sandwich tins for about 30 minutes. Glue the cooled sponges together with cream and raspberry jam and sift icing sugar on top (through a paper doily if you fancy).

Tea, anyone?

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