Gluten-Free Fairy Cakes

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Gluten-Free Fairy Cakes are light, fluffy little cakes which are perfect for baking with kids. Simply made with gluten-free flour, ground almonds and no weird gums they deliver a delicious buttery vanilla flavour. Glazed with an easy lemon icing these Fairy Cakes are the best reason to usher your children into the kitchen.

fairy cakes on a cooling rack

I am always looking for simple baking recipes to make with kids as I love sharing my passion for baking with my children. The problem is that they get bored easily so the recipes have to be easy, fun, quick and with as much participation as possible.

Fairy Cakes are ideal especially when you want to graduate from something a little more involved than chocolate crispy cakes.

fairy cakes on a cooling rack

What is the difference between Fairy Cakes and Cupcakes?

Fairy Cakes are a distinctively British affair. The kind of little cake that are sold ten a penny at school fetes and village fairs. There are no fancy flavours involved, classic vanilla is the order of the day here.

This is also not a place for elaborate buttercreams but a simple icing sugar glaze, coloured or not but perhaps with a concession towards plenty of gaudy sprinkles.

Fairy cakes are also usually smaller than the kind of monstrous cupcake delicacy you might see Carrie Bradshaw treating herself to. Fairy cakes are delicate, light and definitely homespun.

close up of a fairy cake

Why are these Gluten-Free Fairy Cakes the best?

  • Okay first off, these fairy cakes are delicious with a deep buttery vanilla flavour and gentle tang of the lemon icing.
  • No one would guess these are gluten-free. The texture is absolutely perfect. Moist and fluffy with no dry crumbliness or gummy mouthfeel.
  • No xanthan or other weird gums (this is why I never bake with xanthan gum)
  • You can use any gluten-free flour blend. I use this one.
  • Ground almonds mean the cakes are really moist (don’t worry there isn’t any almond flavour). For more info on baking with nut flours see my post here.
  • So easy and foolproof that your kid can really get stuck in.
  • It takes about an hour for the fairy cakes to cool so you can pretty much start decorating straight after their naps.
  • The decoration cannot be messed up. The more chaotic the sprinkling then the more charming the fairy cake.

However, the best reason for making Fairy Cakes with your kid rather than any other recipe is that it is two activities in one.

  1. Making the Fairy Cakes
  2. Decorating the Fairy Cakes

How do you make Gluten-Free Fairy Cakes?

  1. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.Glass mixing bowl filled with butter and sugarGlass mixing bowl filled with creamed butter and sugar
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract.Glass mixing bowl filled with creamed butter, sugar and eggs
  3. Whisk together the gluten-free flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.Glass mixing bowl filled with gluten free flour and almonds
  4. Beat the flour mix into the other ingredients.Glass mixing bowl filled with cake batter
  5. Place 12 muffin cases into a muffin tin then divide the batter between them.Muffin tin filled with fairy cakes pre-bake, ready for the oven
  6. Bake the fairy cakes for 20 minutes. 
  7. Remove the fairy cakes from the oven and cool on a wire rack before icing.fairy cakes on a cooling rack
  8. Glass mixing bowl filled with lemon icing ingredients
  9. To make the glazed icing stir together icing sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until a thick paste has formed.
  10. Spread the icing over the top of the cooled fairy cakes and decorate with sprinkles.cooling rack with fairy cakes mid-decorating

Pro Tips

  • You want your fairy cakes to have a flat surface once baked which makes them easier to decorate. You can achieve this by getting as much air into the batter as possible. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes in a stand mixer. Then beat well as you add each ingredient.
  • Stand mixer – you don’t need a stand mixer to make the batter for these fairy cakes but it will ensure the fluffiest and lightest batter. If you can afford it a KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer is definitely worth the investment if you like to bake. However an electric hand mixer is a much more affordable option and takes up way less kitchen space.
  • The best way to break an egg is to tap the egg lightly on the work surface then hold over a bowl, tuck your finger in the crack and pull the shell away. This was one of the first kitchen jobs I taught my children who seem to excel at this method with very little shell shards.
  • Vanilla extract – this is a must for a true deep vanilla flavour (not vanilla essence which is bland and watery). I like this brand and most supermarkets stock it.
  • Ground almonds – I suggest using supermarket bought ground almonds here instead of grinding your own as they tend to be a little softer and blander in flavour. We are aiming for vanilla flavoured cakes rather than almond ones.
  • Use your regular 12-hole muffin tin rather than buying a separate fairy cake tin. This is the one I have and love.
  • Use muffin cases. Traditional fairy cakes are quite small, however I recommend using muffin cases as they are less fiddly for your child to fill with cake batter. The batter will be everywhere, with bigger cases you can rest assured at least some will end up in the case.
    This recipe uses 50mm high muffin cases
    Why not buy several colours so you can really go to town and give real control to your child on how the cake looks.
  • Use a trigger release ice-cream scoop for filling the muffin cases. This makes filling the cases so easy.
  • Remove the fairy cakes from the baking tin as soon as you take them out of the oven so they don’t retain the heat and become soggy.
  • Check your sprinkles labels as some sprinkles contain gluten.

fairy cakes on a cooling rack

Icing Tips

  • Consistency – Add your lemon juice gradually, you may not need the whole lemon. The icing should be the consistency of a thick paste which doesn’t drip off a teaspoon.
  • Use a teaspoon of icing per fairy cake. Drop the icing into the centre of the cake and spread it round using the back of a regular teaspoon until it reaches the edges of the cake.
  • Let the kids get stuck in! Give them the job of mixing up the icing sugar with the lemon juice and zest then stick the bowl in the middle of the table with a selection of sprinkles. Let your children and the adults go crazy.

Be warned, this is just as much fun for the adults. My husband insisted on decorating a couple himself and took just as much pride in his fairy cake decoration as our four year old.

Freezing and Storage

  • You can freeze the fairy cakes prior to icing in a ziplock bag for up to 2 months in the freezer. A pile of fairy cakes ready to be decorated makes for an excellent toddler activity.
  • The fairy cakes can be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.

If you want more ideas for baking with kids then look at these easy recipes:

Ultimate Popcorn Rocky Road
The Best Chocolate Tiffin
White Chocolate Raspberry Flapjacks
Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Easy Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins
Peanut Butter Oaty Chocolate Cookies
Lemon Iced Stem Ginger Parkin
Picnic Slice
Spiced Pumpkin Date Cookies

close up of a fairy cake cut in half

Fairy Cake Variations

  • Buttercream – Go big and decorate your fairy cakes using a simple vanilla buttercream of 250g icing sugar and 250g unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ¼ teaspoon salt.
  • Jam – swirl some jam into the batter before filling with the muffin cases for some added fruitiness.
  • Add-ins – Try adding a handful of chocolate chips, sultanas, butterscotch chips.
  • Extracts – Swap the vanilla extract for 1 teaspoon of almond extract or lemon extract or orange extract for different flavours.
  • Decorate with a single glace cherry for beautiful simplicity.

If you make Gluten-Free Fairy Cakes then please leave a comment below and/or give the recipe a rating. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own baking creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.

fairy cakes on a cooling rack

Easy Gluten-Free Fairy Cakes

Gluten-Free Fairy Cakes are light, fluffy little cakes which are perfect for baking with kids. Simply made with gluten-free flour, ground almonds and no weird gums they deliver a delicious buttery vanilla flavour. Glazed with an easy lemon icing Fairy Cakes are the best reason to usher your children into the kitchen.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Cake
Cuisine: British
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 fairy cakes
Calories: 352kcal

Ingredients

  • 200 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs medium
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 100 g gluten-free plain flour
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Lemon Icing

  • 225 g icing sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

Instructions

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / gas 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases.
  • Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. About 6 minutes in a stand mixer, scraping the sides down occasionally.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and then add the vanilla extract.
  • Whisk together the gluten-free flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt.
  • Add the flour mixture to other ingredients and beat well.
  • Divide the batter between the muffin cases.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until the surface is just turning golden.
  • As soon as the tin has been taken out of the oven, then lift out the fairy cakes and leave on a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
  • Make the icing by beating together the lemon juice and zest with the icing sugar until the icing is a thick paste.
  • Drop a teaspoon of icing on each fairy cake and use the back of a teaspoon to swirl around to the edges.
  • Decorate the fairy cakes with plenty of colourful sprinkles.

Video

Notes

  • Gluten-free flour - You can use any gluten-free flour blend. I use this one.
  • Ground almonds - I recommend using supermarket bought ground almonds rather than grinding your own as they are softer for a lighter bake and relatively flavourless.
  • Vanilla extract – this is a must for a true deep vanilla flavour (not vanilla essence).
  • This recipe uses a regular 12-hole muffin tin.
  • Use muffin cases. Traditional fairy cakes are quite small, however I recommend using muffin cases as they are less fiddly for your child to fill with cake batter. 
  • Sprinkles! Check your labelling as some sprinkles contain gluten.
  • Flat surface – you want your fairy cakes to have a flat surface once baked which makes them easier to decorate. You can achieve this by getting as much air into the batter as possible. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes in a stand mixer. Then beat well as you add each ingredient.
  • Use a trigger release ice-cream scoop for filling the muffin cases.
  • Remove the fairy cakes from the baking tin as soon as you take them out of the oven so they don’t retain the heat and become soggy.
  • Icing consistency – Add your lemon juice gradually, you may not need the whole lemon. The icing should be the consistency of a thick paste which doesn’t drip off a teaspoon.
  • Freezing the fairy cakes - you can freeze the fairy cakes very well in a ziplock bag prior to icing.

Nutrition

Calories: 352kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 72mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 36g | Vitamin A: 496IU | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @FromTheLarder or tag #FromTheLarder!

Comments

  1. 5 stars
    These Fairy cakes were absolutely delicious! Best fairy cakes I’ve had in years – shop brought or home made!
    You would never guess they were gluten free in a million years.
    My daughter made them so its an easy to follow recipe – not too complicated.
    Thankyou so much for allowing me to enjoy fantastic cakes again!

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