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Traditional Vegan Vanilla Fairy Cakes

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Traditional vegan vanilla British fairy cakes are based on the classic little cakes that everyone loves at a party or picnic.

Light and fluffy vanilla sponge topped with water icing and a jelly tot sweet. Incidentally, Rowntree jelly tot sweets have always been vegan since they were first produced in 1965 but its only recently that they have begun to display the sweets vegan status on the packaging.

Or spread your fairy cakes with the classic old-school topping of strawberry jam and sprinkled with desiccated coconut. So cute and irresistible!

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Fairy cakes are part of British childhood and are perfect for kids to have a go at baking.

In the US cupcakes are similar to the British fairy cake. But the US cupcake is often much larger and with more elaborate icing decoration.vegan traditional vanilla fairy cakes

Origins of cupcakes

Fairy cakes likely originated from cupcakes.

Cupcakes have been around since at least the late 1700s!

Cupcakes got their name because of the little cup vessels or moulds that were traditionally used to bake the cakes.

A recipe for cupcakes was found in the first ever cookbook ”American Cookery” to be written by an American author Amelia Simmons in 1796. Previous cookbooks in America were all by British authors.traditional vegan vanilla fairy cakes

Traditional Vegan Vanilla Fairy Cakes

Bakes16 little fairy cakes.

Perfect for parties, celebration, and picnics.

Why not have the kids prepare a batch for Mothers Day?

traditional vegan vanilla fairy cakes

Traditional Vegan Vanilla Fairy Cakes

Print Recipe
Perfect dainty cakes for parties, celebrations, afternoon tea and picnics.
Its super easy to prepare and bake these little soft, fluffy and light cakes.
Course Afternoon tea, Dessert, Party, pudding, Snack
Cuisine British
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 16 cakes
Calories 140
Author Jacq


  • Fairy cake/cupcake tray either 1 16 hole tray or 2 smaller trays
  • fairy cases/cupcake cases


  • 225 grams self-raising flour 8oz/ 1 1/2 cups (1 cup equalling 250ml) sieved
  • 2 tsp baking powder sieved
  • 175 grams caster sugar powdered sugar 6oz/ 3/4 cup and 1 tbsp. Alternatively use granulated sugar.
  • 6 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence or extract
  • 225 ml water 8 fl oz

Enough to cover 8 cakes so double up if covering all 16

  • 8 tbsp icing sugar sieved
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 8 jelly tot sweets or a sweet of your choice such as vegan chocolate buttons. Or glace cherries, candied fruit etc.

Enough to cover 8 cakes so double up if covering all 16

  • 3 tbsp jam
  • 3 tbsp desiccated coconut


  • Preheat the oven 160 F/180 Celsius/ 350 Fahrenheit/ Gas 4.
    Place a fairy cake case in each hole of your baking tray.
  • Mix flour, baking powder and sugar together.
  • In a separate bowl or jug mix the water, oil and vanilla together.
  • Pour the water mix into the flour mix. Stir until all the lumps are out and all the ingredients are mixed together.
  • Divide the cake mix between the fairy cake cases.
    For larger cakes use larger cupcake or muffin cases.
  • Place on the middle shelf of the oven.
    Bake until risen, lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean.
    Check after 15 minutes for doneness. Don't worry if your cakes look pale but are cooked as that's fine.
  • After a few minutes remove the cakes from the baking tray to cool on a wire rack or wooden board. Or just on the kitchen counter.
    vegan fairy cakes vanilla out of oven
  • Once cool the cakes can be decorated.
    vegan traditional vanilla fairy cakes

Water icing:

  • Using a teaspoon of water at a time mix with the icing sugar until a thick but easily spreadable paste is achieved. If too much water is added just add more sieved icing sugar.
  • Using the back of a teaspoon or little spatula add about a teaspoon worth of icing to each cake and smooth into a little circle in the middle of the cake. Or just spread the icing to cover the entire surface.
    Top with a jelly tot.
    Wait until the icing sets before eating if possible! For quicker setting place in the fridge for a short while.
    traditional vegan vanilla fairy cakes

Jam-coconut topping:

  • Mix the jam with a teaspoon for a few seconds to make it easier to spread. Cover the entire surface of the fairy cake with a thin layer of jam.
    vegan fairy cake with jam
  • Tip the coconut into a little dish. Gently press the fairy cake into the coconut and move around so it evenly coats the cake.
    traditional vegan vanilla fairy cake dipped in coconut
  • Remove and the cake will be perfectly covered.
    vanilla fairy cake vegan topped with coconut


***Although the recipe provides cup measurements I do strongly recommend that when baking the ingredients are measured using either grams or ounces (oz) for more accurate and successful bakes. Cup measurements can vary from country to country.***
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Calorie total is based on 1 fairy cake with no decoration. 

This data is for 1 fairy cake with a water icing topping:

This data is for one fairy cake with a desiccated coconut-strawberry jam topping.


Calories: 140kcal

traditional vegan vanilla fairy cake

Vegan Traditional Vanilla Fairy Cakes Recipe Notes

  • Fairy cakes will keep fresh for up to 3 days in a cool, dry container, and a few extra days if stored in the fridge.
  • Fairy cakes can be frozen without the toppings. Add a layer of parchment between each fairy cake so that they can be easily retrieved out of the freezer wrappings individually.
  • Switch it up and add different toppings such as dairy-free chocolate buttons, sprinkles, glace cherries and candied fruits.
  • Try adding some lemon. lime or orange zest to the sponge mix and using the juice of the fruit to prepare the water icing. Grate a little extra zest on the icing or add a candied or freeze dried fruit.
  • These fairy cakes are ideal for kids birthday parties or other celebrations. In Scotland and most of the UK fairy cakes are traditionally served at parties. Better still have kids prepare a batch of fairy cakes. Its an ideal summer time activity.


Love Jelly tots? Amazon (UK) sells in bulk for competitive prices:


Vegan traditional vanilla fairy cakes
These fairy cakes are so light, soft and airy! And incredibly moist!


Looking for more traditional bakes?

Try these vegan British chocolate chip flapjacksvegan traditional chocolate flapjacks

And a slice of everyone’s favourite banana bread!vegan banana chocolate chip bread

Ready for a British afternoon tea time treat?

These traditional Edinburgh fruit scones will transport you to the little nostalgic cafes and bakeries of Edinburgh!vegan Edinburgh fruit scones




16 thoughts on “Traditional Vegan Vanilla Fairy Cakes”

  1. 5 stars
    This is what I need in my life – more recent vegan cake recipe ideas! Love how easy they look. I love being vegan but am not so good with baking!

    1. Hi Cass! These fairy cakes don’t require lots of baking skills and are really quick to prepare so I am sure you will get on fine. Hope you enjoy the cakes 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    you know I always wondered how to do that pretty jam and coconut topping! Now I know. I’m amazed at how many traditional recipes can be easily veganified (is that a word?)

  3. 5 stars
    I made these for my neighbor who’s done so much for me the last few months and she already texted asking for the recipe. I’d say they’re a huge hit! Thanks for the tip about weighing the ingredients. Worked like a charm.

    1. Aww that’s so good to read! Happy your neighbour enjoyed the fairy cakes. What a great idea to bake a batch of these fairy cakes as a thank-you gift!

  4. I haven’t had fairy cakes in so long, though we used to decorate them differently again. Great to have a vegan version as an option.

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