My attention was caught last week by an article about Fairy Cakes, which as far as I could tell are something like what we in America call mini-cupcakes. If you happen to have a mini-muffin/cupcake pan you can whip them right out for Valentine's Day, or you can make the basic recipe and treat it either as a cake or standard cupcakes.
Another characteristic of Fairy Cakes that I noticed from one of the illustrations that I saw was the cupcake that had been sliced in half horizontally and filled, then topped with the second half and frosted. If I were to do that I would go ahead and make or buy a marshmallow-type frosting and go for the Twinkie feeling, and also get the prettiness of something like pink or blue sprinkles dressing up the fancy layered cupcake.
But however you make it, a basic white cake recipe has a place in your files so that you can keep up with trends and rediscovered treasures like Fairy Cakes, which supposedly were in vogue during the Victorian era. I happen to have a mini-muffin pan and I think I will make them this Thursday, just so that I can give my husband something to enjoy on Valentine's Day, which is not commonly observed in South America, where he comes from.
You always want the best ingredients you can buy, and in the case of this recipe I will use the Princess baking emulsion that I wrote about the other day, that I got from the King Arthur Flour Company online, along with flour that I got at Sprouts in Tucson. A white cake is a luxury item, coming as it does from the days when most flour was simply milled whole wheat.
The cake decorations being sold around Valentine's Day also include some pretty fancy little thingies that you can adorn the Fairy Cakes with, such as candy pearls and glittering decorative sugar. Pink sugar glitter is also out there, as are clear sparkling sugar and white candy sprinkles to do a white-on-white fairy ambience.
But however you achieve it, go for the delicate look and you can't go wrong with this recipe.
BASIC WHITE FAIRY CAKE
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups sugar (bakers' superfine if possible)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 egg whites
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Add the butter, milk and vanilla and mix on lowest speed until the batter is well combined.
Add the egg whites and mix until they are thoroughly incorporated.
Pour the batter into a mini muffin pan that has been prepared with nonstick cooking spray. Bake the muffins for for 12 minutes and then check to see if the center is firm and the cake has browned slightly. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes before you move them to a wire rack to cool completely. Top and serve.
If you do make the mini-cupcakes, this makes a light dessert that can follow a rich meal, simply because the cakes are so small (mini muffin pans make small muffins/cakes!).