Last Friday I ventured all the way across London for a play date with two of my favourite ladies. My honorary big sister, also known as my Sister-From-Another-Mister (SFAM), and her utterly gorgeous toddler Miss D.
Now, I’m not the maternal type. In fact that’s actually putting it lightly. Frankly children can smell fear and react to me in one of two ways, they run off screaming, or they run towards me laughing just to see my discomfort when I don’t know what to do. But Miss D is different. She genuinely melts my heart. And so when I get an invitation to go and make fairy cakes with her I can’t pack my sprinkles and apron (sorry, “pinny” as she calls it, a true northern child) fast enough.
Which is how I found myself on Friday evening heading to a date with my Maj covered in icing sugar, still finding hundreds and thousands in my hair and happier than I’d been the whole time Mr L was away. Best afternoon in a very long time.
It turns out that I may have met my baking soulmate with Miss D. She’s enthusiastic, patient (but only just) has a remarkably strong mixing arm for her age and isn’t afraid of getting a bit messy. As I pointed out to SFAM as she cleared up the sprinkle carnage, it was nothing compared to the mess I manage to make in the kitchen, I bake with really sticky things like jam, and that ain’t not fun to clean up (when I had my jam company Mr L was forever complaining about the strange places in the house he found sticky fingerprints!).
I think the thing I loved most about the afternoon was the look of glee on Miss D’s face when I asked her if she’d like to try a new icing recipe, a “magic” recipe no less. Her eyes widened and she looked towards her mother as if to say “can we?!” Never have I felt prouder of my knowledge that equal ratios of butter and icing sugar creates the tastiest icing a three year old will ever encounter (at least until we tackle cream cheese in a few years). I’m amazed we had the willpower to only eat one.
If you’re baking with little ones this weekend, give this recipe a try as they can help mix and dollop and decorate and it’ll be the most fun you’ve had in weeks.
Vanilla Fairy Cakes with Magic Icing – Makes 12 small cakes with a large smear of icing for each.
For the cakes:
110g softened unsalted butter
110g caster sugar
110g self-raising flour
2 large eggs, beaten
a splash of milk (around 3tbsp)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the “magic” icing
100g softened unsalted butter
100g icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 160C and line a fairy cake pan with paper liners, preferably nice patterned ones as they’re cuter.
Cream together the butter and sugar, and then add a little egg, then a little flour, then more egg, etc until all the eggs and flour are mixed in. Add the vanilla and a small dash of milk to loosen up the batter. Spoon evenly into the cake cases and bake on a middle shelf for 12-18mins, until just golden and they spring back when gently touched.
Allow to cool completely before icing and decorating.
For the icing mix the butter until smooth and then gradually add the icing sugar until completely combined. Smear a small amount onto each cake until you run out and then top the cakes with sprinkles, making sure you get plenty on the table and in your hair. Then eat while you ignore the mess!