My friend Anne recently reminded me of how I met her late mother. I overheard Mrs. K talking to someone and, recognizing her accent as English, waylaid her. I had been reading -- yes, English mysteries -- and wanted to know what "fairy cakes" were. She said they were like cupcakes, and told me how to make them particularly fairy-like. Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I have since found that cupcakes or fairy cakes were developed during the 19th century, possibly as a cross between muffins and cake. They were called cupcakes because the ingredients were measured in a cup, rather than being weighed. Traditional fairy cakes have equal measures of butter, self-rising flour, castor sugar and eggs. To make a cupcake (of whatever recipe) into a fairy cake: Cut the tops off the baked mini-cakes and cut each circle into two half-circles. Put a blop of icing on top of each cake and stick the half-circles into the icing to resemble wings. Thanks, Mrs. K!
The English mysteries I had been reading were the Richard Jury series by Martha Grimes, beginning with THE MAN WITH A LOAD OF MISCHIEF. One of the characters, Aunt Agatha, is addicted to fairy cakes, so I had to find out what they were. Here's the recipe I've worked out:
- self-rising flour
- sugar (not powdered, but finer than regular--a food processor will do it)
First, break the eggs into a measuring cup and mark the quantity. Combine the eggs with equal amounts of the rest of the ingredients. Bake as you would cupcakes.
They're VERY tasty, whether you make the little wings or not.