Fairy Cakes Recipe

Janette Fuschi | Culinary Ginger

Fairy cakes (also known as butterfly cakes) are light, fluffy vanilla cupcakes with the top cut off. They’re filled with strawberry jam, topped with buttercream frosting, and the top is replaced in the shape of wings.

Which came first, the fairy or the cupcake? As far as I can find out, cupcakes came across the Atlantic from west to east at the turn of the century.

I don’t have evidence of how the look of the cakes came about. I can only imagine when someone decided to cut off the top and fill the cakes, they didn’t know what to do with the top so they cut in half and stuck them into the frosting in the shape of wings.

This is would explain where the name came from, both fairies and butterflies have wings. The name could also have something to do with their small size.

Fairy Cakes Photo

When it comes to all my British recipes I’ve made, I always have a more than a few sentences on the name and origin of the recipe, today this is all the information I have.

Personally, I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, but my sweet tooth would always be there for fairy cakes, and they were my favorite treat growing up.

Fairy Cakes Picture

When I first made them in my high school home economics class, I realized that home baked is so much better than bought. I haven’t made them in some years, but I do admit after making these, I may have had more than 1… in the same sitting.

Fairy Cakes Image

Hey, it’s easy to do because they’re so light and not too sweet! Make them, you’ll see.

Fairy Cakes Pic

These fairy cakes would be the perfect ladylike cake for an afternoon tea. The important components for afternoon tea are a selection of tea sandwiches and pretty cakes, and these fairy cakes fit the bill nicely.

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Fairy Cakes Recipe

    4 Servings


For the Cupcakes:
  • 4 ounces Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 6 ounces Granulated Sugar, 3/4 cup
  • 2 large Eggs, room temperature, beaten
  • 3 ounces Milk, 1/3 cup
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 8 ounces All-Purpose Flour, sifted, 1 3/4 cups
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
For the Frosting:
  • 16 ounces Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 12 teaspoons Strawberry Jam


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with liners.
  3. To a mixing bowl (to use a hand mixer) or a stand mixer bowl, add the butter and sugar.
  4. Beat until light and pale.
  5. Add the eggs and beat until mixed. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until well mixed.
  6. Add the flour, baking powder and salt a little at a time and beat on low until well mixed and smooth.
  7. Use an ice cream scoop to fill the cups halfway.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes until golden. When a toothpick inserted in the center it should come out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven and cool the cakes on a wire rack.
  10. Meanwhile, add the 16 ounces butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a bowl (to hand mix) or stand mixer.
  11. Beat on high until light and creamy. Add the milk and beat until mixed.
  12. When the cakes are cooled, cut a 1 1/2 inch, 1 inch deep circle, from the top of each, cut the circle in half.
  13. Add a teaspoon of jam into the hole, top with frosting, then insert the top into the shape of wings.
  14. Repeat with all the cakes.
  15. Dust the cakes with a fine dusting of powdered sugar.


Cooking Method:
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Related Recipes:
British Recipes, Dessert Recipes, Cupcake Recipes, Baking Recipes, Baked Recipes, Party Food Recipes, Frosting Recipes
Recipe Yields:
4 servings
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Related Post:
Author: Janette Fuschi
Recipe Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 899
Calories 1566

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 112g
  Saturated Fat 71g
Sodium 363mg
Total Carbohydrate 117g
  Dietary Fiber 0g
  Sugars 67g
Protein 8g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.
Janette Fuschi

About Janette

Janette is a British ex-pat living in Southern California. On her blog, Culinary Ginger, you'll learn all about it. On Food Fanatic, you'll see her favorite British classics, and ours too!

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