Traditional vegan vanilla British fairy cakes are based on the classic little cakes that everyone loves at a party or picnic.
It's so easy and quick to whip up a batch of these retro cakes which are perfect for picnics, parties, buffets, pot-lucks and cake sales.
A tasty fairy cake is a fun addition to pop into a lunch box to enjoy at school, college or work!
Each bite of these classic fairy cakes are packed with pops of sweet vanilla flavours and incredible moist and pillow like textures. So tasty topped with a simple water icing and a wee sweetie or candy.
Fairy cakes are part of British childhood and are perfect for kids to bake with supervision.
Quick Origins of cupcakes
Fairy cakes more than 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 American authored cookbook ''American Cookery'' written by Amelia Simmons in 1796. Previous cookbooks in America were all by British authors.
Nowadays, 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 British Fairy Cakes
This recipe for vegan British fairy cakes result in 16 little cakes that have a light, fluffy vanilla sponge, topped with water icing and a jelly tot sweet or candy.
Incidentally, Rowntree jelly tot sweets have always been vegan. Jelly tots were first produced in 1965 but its only recently that they have begun to display the sweets vegan status on the packaging.
Other vegan sweets that can be used include skittles (vegan in the UK), the Candy Kitten range of sweets (candy) fruit pastels (vegan in the UK), and Fruit-Tella Koala jelly bears.
My family's latest batch of fairy cakes feature the Rowntree Kola jelly bears and they are very delicious and cute little sweets.
Instead of topping your fairy cakes with a sweet they can be decorated with the classic old-school topping of strawberry jam (jelly) and sprinkled with desiccated coconut. So cute and irresistible!
Vegan cake sprinkles are also a good idea for shaking over the water icing and will look amazing along with a party food spread or buffet.
How To Prepare Vegan British Fairy Cakes
Recipe Notes And FAQs
Store your fairy cakes within a cake tin or plastic food container for up to 3-4 days.
Although it is best to freeze fairy cakes un-decorated, for up to 3-4 months.
However water icing does freeze well so fairy cakes with water icing that has set (become firm and not runny) can also be frozen if required.
More Delicious Vegan Traditional Bakes:
Depression Era Peanut Butter Bread
Traditional Vegan Vanilla Fairy Cakes
- Fairy cake/cupcake tray either one 16 hole baking tray or two smaller trays
- fairy cake cases/small cupcake cases
- Mixing bowls
- 225 grams self-raising flour sieved, or plain/all-purpose flour with an extra ½ teaspoon of baking powder
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 175 grams caster sugar or granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoon vegetable oil such as rapeseed or sunflower
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 225 millilitres water
Enough to cover 8 cakes so double up if covering all 16
- 8 tablespoon icing sugar powdered sugar, sieved
- 1 tablespoon water many need an extra teaspoon or two
- 8 jelly tot sweets (candy) or a candy 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 tablespoon fruit jam (fruit jelly in the US)
- 3 tablespoon 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, firm, very lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean.Check after 15 minutes for doneness. Some ovens may require 20 minutes to bake the fairy cakes.
- After a few minutes remove the cakes from the baking tray to cool on a wire rack or similar.
- Once cool the cakes can be decorated.
Water icing topping:
- 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 or your choice of sweet. Vegan cake sprinkles are also nice.Wait until the icing sets before eating if possible! For quicker setting place in the fridge for a short while.
- 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.
- Tip the coconut into a little dish. Gently press the fairy cake into the coconut and move around so it evenly coats the cake.
- Remove and the cake will be perfectly covered.
- Nutritional information is provided for guidance only and is not a strict calculation as ingredients vary.
- Nutritional data is for 1 un-decorated fairy cake.
- Calories for 1 fairy cake with a jam and coconut topping is roughly 156 per cake.
- Calories for 1 fairy cake with a water icing and sweet topping is about 165 calories per cake.
- Fairy cakes will keep fresh for up to 3-4 days within a cake tin or covered container.
- Fairy cakes can be frozen without the toppings for up to 3-4 months. Although water icing does freeze well so iced fairy cakes can also be frozen.
- Switch it up and add different toppings such as dairy-free chocolate buttons, vegan cake sprinkles, glace (candied) cherries and candied fruits.
- 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 holiday time activity.
I like the name of fairy cakes, so cute! Thank you for sharing the different toppings ideas.
Your welcome! I love the name fairy cakes as well 🙂
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!
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 🙂
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?)
It is now! Perfect word to describe it 🙂
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.
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!
Love the jam and coconut topping! Such a great idea!
Thanks! Its a classic topping which are always the best 🙂
These are truly the best vegan cake ever, we will make this often!
Thanks so much! Happy you loved the fairy cakes 🙂
I love making fairy cakes with my kids. I will definitely be giving these vegan ones a try.
Awesome. Hope the kids have a great time baking the fairy cakes 🙂
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.
Thanks! Hope you try these vegan fairy cakes. They are so easy and delicious.