Rachel Allen's fairy cakes recipe

(2056 ratings)

Rachel Allen's fairy cakes with plain flour
(Image credit: Getty Images/Foodcollection)
  • healthy
Preparation Time40 mins (including decorating time)
Cooking Time8 mins (may need an extra 4 mins)
Total Time48 mins
Cost RangeCheap
Nutrition Per PortionRDA
Calories276 Kcal14%
Sugar30.4 g34%
Fat12.1 g17%
Saturated Fat7.1 g36%
Salt0.33 g
Protein2.4 g5%
Carbohydrates39.4 g15%
Salt0.33 g

Rachel Allen's butterfly fairy cakes with plain flour are the prettiest little cakes. Ideal for a birthday parties, baby showers or bake sales; they are also known as butterfly buns (opens in new tab).

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. Perfect cakes to make with kids, Rachel Allen’s method requires you to cut the top off the cupcakes to create a pretty, butterfly effect.


  • 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) or sprinkles to decorate (optional)




  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.
  5. 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 tips for making Rachael Allen’s fairy cakes with plain flour

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.

You might also like…

Mary Berry’s fairy cakes (opens in new tab)

Chocolate fairy cakes (opens in new tab)

Lemon fairy cakes (opens in new tab)

Rachel Allen left home at just 18 to pursue a career in cooking. Originally from Dublin, Ireland she moved to County Cork to study at the famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Soon after graduating from the prestigious culinary school, she worked at the Ballymaloe House Hotel testing recipes and then onto teaching at the school. Her first television series, called Rachel’s Favourite Food, was broadcast in 2004 throughout Ireland, Canada, Australia and elsewhere in Europe. A book of the same name accompanied the series, giving viewers a true insight into Rachel’s special brand of family-orientated cooking and recipes. Since then she has authored more than eight different cookery books (opens in new tab), based around baking and home cooking. She’s particularly famous for her baking recipes, such as the delicious walnut and American frosting cake (opens in new tab), as well as simpler recipes like basic fairy cakes (opens in new tab). Rachel’s books have sold more than 1 million copies worldwide. As well as being a TV chef and author, Rachel writes regular columns for Irish magazine, The Sunday Tribune. In the past, she has also contributed to BBC Good Food magazine and AWT at Home magazine. Alongside writing, Rachel also teaches at the same school she trained. She regularly appears on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and has her own popular cooking show on Irelands RTE network. In March 2017, Rachel Allen opened her first restaurant. Dwyers of Cork on Washington Street in Cork is a joint business venture with her husand, Isaac, and publican Paul Montgomery. Appearing on the show over a number of years, in September 2019 Rachel returned as a judge and co-host with Marco Pierre White on the popular Irish television series, The Restaurant. Rachel lives in County Cork with her husband, Issac. The couple have three children together - Luka, Joshua and Scarlett. From simple one-pot meals and roast dinners to your favourite sweet treats, we’ve got all of the best Rachel Allen recipes (opens in new tab) to choose from.