100s and 1000s. The joy of many children’s faces where fairy cakes are involved. As far back as I can remember, fairy cakes were one of the first things I learnt to bake, smothered in white icing and dotted with dolly mixture or coated in sugar sprinkles to take to school for bake fairs and lunchtime snacks. I’d stand on a stool in the kitchen, so my tiny hands could reach the counter, wooden spoon at the ready and apron on, in charge of the fairy cake production line.
I remember wanting to pour out my 100s and 1000s, dip my finger in the icing and then plunge it into the kaleidoscopic mass of sugar, licking the gloopy glaze before it fell on the floor. Instead, I dropped the container. Multi-coloured ball bearings began piling out, scattering everywhere, bouncing joyfully into the slits between our wooden floorboards, the harmonious tick-tick of each sugar coated sphere ricocheting around the room, until each one eventually stopped, rolling around before coming to a halt. And the room fell silent again.
My face would give it all away. When asked what had happened, I’d reply with “it was an accident” as my mum swept up the particles into a dustpan. I’d flash a cheeky grin and get away with it, as I managed to on many more occasions. The fun part was licking the bowl afterwards, scraping my spoon around trying to get every last bit of batter and then sitting cross-legged in front of the oven, watching as the fluffy mountain peaks appeared, browning ever so slightly.
There was always the desire to peel away the fanned paper cases whilst the cakes were still warm, but if I’d just waited a few moments more, the shiny icing and decorations would have made them even more of a treat. Icing was my sweet spot. I once decided to “ice” an entire room when holidaying in France at the age of eight; shaking an entire bottle of Johnson’s baby powder out onto the floor. The discovery of me smirking in my pink dungarees covered head to toe in white talc, grasping the 600g plastic bottle gave it all away. No cheeky grin would get me out of this one.
Sometimes the simple recipes are the most comforting. Nostalgia is a great thing, especially when it comes from a finger-full of whipped icing coated in crazy colours. Get your tongue round that and you’ll remember reaching for the fairy cakes at your best friend’s sixth birthday party or like I did, time-travel back to the kitchen worktop with a cake-splattered recipe book to bake your first fairy cakes: a fluffy vanilla sponge, topped with white chocolate buttercream icing and dipped generously into a bowl of rainbow embellishment. Because really, what’s not to like?
Cake mixture from Cupcakes from The Primrose Bakery