Fairy Cakes

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Fairy Cakes

star rating (8) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

We love the oh-so-cute size and shape these cakes take—reminiscent of a fairy toadstool—when made in a mini cheesecake pan. You'll have enough leftover batter to make one or two conventional-size cupcakes if you use the mini pan. The recipe also fits a standard-size muffin tin perfectly. Frost the cakes with brightly colored buttercream and garnish with homemade fondant butterflies (directions follow). Sugar flowers work as a garnish as well.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange, lemon, or lime zest
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons fresh orange, lemon, or lime juice
1/4 cup milk
3 large eggs

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup shortening (or use all butter)
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 cups glazing or confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or the flavor of your choice
1/4 to 1/3 cup milk or cream
food color, if desired

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a mini-cheesecake pan or standard muffin tin.

To make the cakes: Cream the butter, sugar, and zest until pale and fluffy, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder, and beat into the butter mixture until a paste forms. Stir in the citrus juice and milk, scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl between additions, and beat until the batter is light and fluffy.

Spoon the mixture into the wells of the prepared pan and bake for 18 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown, the tops spring back when lightly touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Remove the cakes from the pan and return to the rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting: Beat together the butter, shortening, and salt till fluffy. Add about half the sugar, and beat slowly till well blended. Add the vanilla and half the milk, and beat until fluffy. Continue mixing in sugar and milk alternately until they're completely incorporated, then beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Color the frosting as desired, then spread on the cakes. Garnish with fondant butterflies, if desired, before the frosting sets. Yield: 12 to 14 fairy cakes.

Fondant Butterflies

4 to 6 ounces purchased fondant
Food color (paste colors are better than liquid, as they don't thin the fondant)

Begin kneading fondant on a silicone mat or a surface dusted with cornstarch. Once it's pliable, divide fondant into as many pieces as you want colors. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered to prevent drying. Start adding color, one or two drops at a time, and knead until color is swirled throughout fondant to the extent you like.

Roll fondant 1/8" thick (a plastic pin works best, as the fondant won't stick). Use butterfly-shaped cutters (or any shape of your choice) to cut out butterflies. For an "in-flight" look, you can bend the butterfly over a pencil or dowel while still pliable, and let dry in a bent shape.


  • star rating 06/29/2014
  • Donna from NC
  • Taste was good, but we didn't care for the texture. They had more of a muffin texture than a cupcake. Also, they did not dome when baking. I used a standard muffin tin and made 13 cupcakes, Baked at 350 for 20 minutes so not sure what went wrong. Trimmed the edges and frosted so no one was the wiser.
    I am sorry these cakes weren't quite what you were after. A sweeter cupcake you might prefer is our Ultra-Vanilla Cupcake.~Jaydl@KAF
  • star rating 07/18/2013
  • Michelle from San Francisco
  • These cupcakes were amazing, perfectly sweet and moist. I made the lemon version one night for my boyfriend and I because we were craving something sweet. I didn't want to make too many, so I cut the recipe in half and substituted almond milk instead of regular milk because we were out. I also made vanilla strawberry frosting to top the cupcakes and my boyfriend appropriately named them strawberry lemonade cupcakes =). We almost ate all of them lol so I will definitely make these again.
  • star rating 03/20/2011
  • from
  • AWESOME CUPCAKES!!! I have not tried the frosting yet...but loved the cupcakes! The recipe was very easy to follow, and my cupcakes turned out better than expected. If you are looking for the perfect cupcake recipe, this is it! A big thank you to King Arthur Flour for posting this recipe!
  • star rating 03/01/2011
  • cupcaker from KAF Community
  • I was very disappointed by this cupcake--it was very dry and crumbly. I also thought the vanilla flavor in the icing overpowered the more subtle citrus in the cupcake. I won't be making this recipe again.
    I am sorry to hear of your difficulty. It sounds like the little cakes may have been a little over baked, every oven bakes differently. When preparing a "new to me" recipe, I hope to find both a time and narrative description of when the item "should" be done. These are very cute little showpieces, I hope you do give the recipe a second try. Next time use the narrative description guide you for doneness. Frank @ KAF.
  • star rating 04/14/2010
  • DianeB from Michigan
  • I made these cupcakes today because I am on a diet,always bake alot then, guess I am punishing myself. They were absolutely beautiful with the soft pastel jel colors and the butterflies were adorable. Grandkids and husband loved them(I did sneak one bite WONDERFUL) Just so cute and springlike. Grandkids will probably stop by again tomorrow, they love it when Grandma diets!
  • star rating 10/03/2009
  • Alesha from Houston, Texas
  • This is a great recipe to use for cupcakes. I made this recipe for the first time today; Instead of milk I used 7 up soda and they smelled great while they werein the oven. The cakes were light, nice, and moist. I would reccommend this recipe to everyone!!!!1
  • star rating 06/17/2009
  • s. M. Rose from goa. India
  • fairy cakes. Fairy cakes,truly a name apt for these magical melt in your mouth cakelings. He he. My very first try at cuppy cakes and a very very sucessful attempt at that thanks to you guys at KAF. That too my measurements arent very accurate and i quartered the recipe, yet they were delish, thats how fool proof your recipes are! Light, fluffy at the same time more cake per bite , and a yummy buttery flavour. Frosted the frosting with a fat star noozle, also a first, and top with silver ball sprinkles, the only sprinkles i could lay my hands on in goa and heart and flower cut outs of a recently discovered chocolate dough. Oh and the flavour developed even more the following day! And my interest in cutssy cuppy cakes has been growing in me since its conception in my heart a month or two back , and i do feel like i have company dont i? So could ya also please help me in deciding if i could go ahead with the golden vanilla pound cake recipe with the crunchy vanilla topping for cup cakes? Thank you for your reply which am sure will be!
    You certainly can try that recipe in small cakes. You can use most any cake recipe to make cupcakes, just be sure to fill the pans evenly and not to overfill them, or they will spill over. Have fun! ~MaryJane @ KAF