Rachel Allen’s fairy cakes recipe

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makes: 12
Skill: easy
Prep: 40 min
Cooking: 8 min
(may need an extra 4 mins)

Nutrition per portion

Calories 276 kCal 14%
Fat 12.1g 17%
  -  Saturates 7.1g 36%
Carbohydrates 39.4g 14%
  -  of which Sugars 30.4g 34%
Protein 2.4g 5%
Salt 0.33g 6%
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  • Rachel Allen's fairy cakes are the prettiest little cakes for a birthday party or just for a special treat; they are also known as butterfly buns.

    These dainty fairy cakes by Irish TV chef, Rachel Allen, are infused with vanilla and filled with jam and buttercream. This recipe can make 12 medium fairy cakes or 24 mini ones. Great for children’s birthday parties, baby showers or for a bake sale, Rachel Allen’s method requires you to cut the top off the cupcakes to create a pretty, butterfly effect. Simple, yet effective.


    • 125g (4.5oz) butter, softened
    • 125g (4.5oz) caster sugar
    • 1tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 150g (5oz) plain flour
    • ¼tsp baking powder
    • For the filling:
    • 100ml (3.5fl oz) raspberry or strawberry jam
    • 200ml (7fl oz) crème Chantilly or vanilla buttercream icing
    • Icing sugar, for dusting
    • Dragèes (metallic sugar balls), to decorate (optional)


    • Preheat the oven to 190ºC, 375ºF, gas 5. Line a 12-hole fairy cake tin, or a 24-hole tin for mini cakes, with 12 (or 24) paper cases.

    • Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. You can refer to our how to cream butter and sugar guide here to ensure you’re creaming correctly.

    • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating continuously, then sift in the flour and baking powder. (If you are pushed for time, and the butter is sufficiently soft, put the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour and baking powder into an electric food mixer and briefly whiz just until the mixture comes together.)

    • Divide the mixture evenly between the paper cases using two teaspoons for mini cakes or two dessertspoons for larger ones. Cook in the oven for 8-12 mins, or until golden and springy to the touch. (The mini cakes may take just 5 mins.) Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool.

    • When cooled, cut the top off each cake, then cut the tops in half to make the butterfly wings. Set aside. Spread half a teaspoon or so of jam on the top of the cut cake, then spoon or pipe the crème Chantilly or buttercream on top of the jam. Arrange two butterfly wings at an angle on top of each cake. Dust generously with icing sugar and decorate with dragèes, if using.

    Top tip for making Rachel Allen's fairy cakes

    When you cream your butter and sugar, make sure you do this really thoroughly until the mixture is pale. Do the same when you beat your eggs. This means you've beaten in lots of air and that's a great start for well-risen fairy cakes.

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