Wednesday, 10 July 2013

RECIPE: Almond, elderflower and rose fairy cakes

Pink, pink and pink

Question: What do you think the difference is between cupcakes and fairy cakes - some say it's to do with size, others believe it's all about the icing. I'm in the former camp, but that's by the by really, as to quote my blogger friend, Ashley: "Who doesn't love anything to with fairies?!" So true.

Fairy cake or cupcake?
I call these "cakes", but I'm not sure they really are cakes. Eh? Bear with. They're not your usual cakey texture anyway. The recipe is a little strange - minimal butter and no raising agent, flour or sugar - and the result reflects that. But although they're a little weird, by jove they're delicious. Like, seriously good.

Mum and I were at a loss when we tried to describe these babies - they're delightfully dense, moist and a little squidgy, and the teeny marzipan morsels make for scrummy, cheeky, chewy bites. Somehow, the marzipan adds plenty of sweetness, worry not, sugar lovers. I'm a huge fan of anything almondy, and the subtle rose and elderflower flavours complement the almond beautifully - just perf for summer, if you ask me. Learn from my mistakes, though, and do NOT try the almond extract by itself. It BURNS!

There's something about decorating little cakes with glacé icing that makes me think of my childhood, and I simply adore doing it. You don't really need any skill at all, not like fiddly piping bags (I HATE them), and you can then top your cakes with whatever takes your fancy - I just picked a few wild flowers from the garden. Sometimes I think my life is too quaint for my own good. If you do the same, obviously don't eat the flowers, and don't leave them on your cakes for ages once you've put them away in a tin as the flowers will go all sad and wilt. Totes traj*.

I wanted to make a whole batch of little fairy cakes, but unforch we ran out of paper cases, so I used muffin-sized cases for the rest. Mum and I love the little cakes as they really are only a few mouthfuls each, so you can have just that extra one before bed without feeling too guilty. I made six fairy cakes and five and a half cupcakes. Slightly awks, but it's all cake so who's complaining?

This is a recipe I customised from one in Stella, and would be perfect to pack up for a picnic. Remember to take your eggs out of the fridge in advance (or use my tip if you forget!)

Ingredients - Cake

75g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
280g marzipan
3 eggs
2½ tbsp cornflour
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp elderflower cordial
¼ tsp almond extract

- Icing

125g icing sugar (but it may depend on how many and what size of cake you're making)
1 tsp rose essence
A few drops of pink food colouring
A selection of wild flowers (or whatever you fancy) to decorate


1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line your cake tray with paper cases. Chop the marzipan into tiny pieces - around 1cm x 1cm - and hopefully resist eating them as you go better than I did.

God, I love marzipan
2. Place the marzipan chunks in a large bowl and beat for a few minutes using a handheld electric whisk (a little odd, I know. The marzipan will stay in chunks but should get a bit more crumbly.) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in between - you should get a yellow, sticky-looking substance, and don't worry, it won't be smooth.

Whisking the eggs and marzipan
3. Add the cornflour, melted butter and salt. Beat until the batter is a little smoother before finishing with the elderflower cordial and almond extract.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake cases, filling each about two thirds. Bake for about 20-22 minutes for the big cakes and around 10-11 minutes for the small ones until they're golden on top and slightly puffed in the centre. Cool in the tin for five minutes or so before turning the cakes out and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.

Mmm icing
5. Make the icing by sifting the sugar into a bowl, adding the rose and pink and stirring. Add drops of warm water a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency (it should coat the back of a teaspoon). Add more sugar to thicken, more pink to darken the colour or more rose to strengthen the flavour. Obviously. Once the cakes are totally cool, spread around 1tsp of icing on to each (I did mine right to the paper cases) and top with a flower. Simple, pretty and delicious. What's not to love?

Cake, anyone?
*I hope you all realised that's my abbreve** for "tragic".
** God forbid I need to explain this one!


  1. These look really tasty, I love marzipan so much!! If you wanna decorate cupcakes with flowers, pansy flowers are edible and taste nice too, I like them in a salad :D

    Elanor xxxx

    1. Thanks Elanor - glad to hear you're a marzipan fan too :)
      Ooh pansy flowers, what a great idea, thanks! :) X

  2. You are so cute on these pictures!!

  3. Yum yum! Bit of a coincidence as I was thinking of making cupcakes with flower topping this weekend. Only, I like marzipan in moderation and so was going to go for butter cream and top up with edible flowers, sweet williams, nasturtiums, pansies etc. Also, congratulations on being shortlisted for the Cosmo blog awards!! Ann x

    1. Ooh that sounds amazing, Ann! Thanks very much and thanks for commenting too :) X

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. These look/sound AMAZING. I want to host a fairy-themed tea party just for this.


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