To me, a fairy cake is a small cupcake - plain sponge with just glace icing and maybe a few sprinkles on top. A cupcake is a standard sized small cake (the ones you bake in 12's in a deep holed-baking tray) - usually plain sponge but sometimes flavoured, with an assortment of toppings to give them some va-va-voom! And a muffin is a larger cake again with chunks of things inside... blueberries, raspberries, white chocolate, nuts, etc...
Here is the recipe that I use for my fairy cakes and cupcakes:
140g self raising flour
1/2 tsp of baking powder
115g caster sugar - Fairtrade if possible, I use either Co-Op or Tate & Lyle
2 medium free range eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
115g butter or margarine - at the moment I'm in love with Stork Liquid but I also use "normal" Stork, I save using the butter for the butter cream(!)
- Preheat the oven to Gas 4. Line a 12 hole baking tin with cake cases.
- Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
- Add all the other ingredients and mix like mad for 3-5 minutes! If I'm using Stork Liquid then I just use a wooden spoon but if I'm using solid margarine I use an electric mixer.
- Divide between the cake cases - for cupcakes I use an old scoop from a Cadbury's Hot Chocolate tub as a measure so they are all the same size... for fairy cakes I use a tablespoon measure. This recipe will make 12 cupcakes or 18 fairy cakes, depending on the size of your scoop!
- Bake in the oven on the middle shelf for about 15 minutes... I never really time my cakes to the second, I keep peeping through the glass oven door but if you have a solid oven door make sure you keep an eye on the time as if you open the oven door too soon your cakes will sink!
- Cool on wire rack then decorate when completey cool.
And here's the recipe I use for muffins...
250g self raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
100g caster sugar - again, Fairtrade if possible
1 medium free range egg, lightly beaten
120ml semi-skimmed milk
125g plain yoghurt
1 tsp flavouring - vanilla, almond, whatever you think fits in with the "chunks" you have chosen for your muffins!
75g butter or margarine, melted and cooled (or 75g Stork Liquid)
A handful of something for the "chunks"... raspberries, chocolate chips, blueberries, fudge pieces, anything really!
- Preheat the oven to Gas 6 (200°C, 400°F). Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cases.
- In one bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar.
- In a second bowl or jug, mix together the egg, milk, yoghurt, flavouring and melted butter/margarine.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir gently until combined - add any "chunks" and stir through gently. The mixture will be quite lumpy but there should be no dry flour visible.
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched lightly. Cool on a wire rack.
- Best served warm but they will keep in a airtight container (once cooled) for a couple of days.
From the recipes, you can see that the main difference is the ratio of fats to flour... the replacement of some of the fat and 1 egg with yoghurt and milk in the muffins makes them lower in fat than the cup cake recipe. Also, the lack of topping on a muffin reduces the additional fat and sugar levels - however, depending on the "chunks" that you add, the fat/sugar content can change considerably! Although, muffins can be a great way to get a bit of hidden goodness into your diet... muffins bursting with blueberries, cranberries or raspberries can really give you a boost at the "2pm slump" I seem to suffer from every day!
You can also add vegetables to the mix... grated carrot, parsnip and beetroot can all be added to spice up your muffins. Also add a teaspoon of mixed spice, ginger or nutmeg to experiment with flavours...
So have a go... enjoy experimenting and let me know any fabulous new flavours you have come up with - I'll definitely give you a "shout-out" and credit for your experimental cooking!