A Fat Girl Makes Fairy Cakes in the United States

If you haven’t read Parts 1 and 2 yet, I recommend you go back and do!

Hello there. You. Yes, you.

This journey started when I read Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes by Sue Watson. Who knew a fairy cake to rest of the world is a cupcake thingy in the United States? I decided I was going to give this baked good a try in my own kitchen, but first I had to prepare. I compared the recipes people around the world shared in the comments of my book review, but in the end I chose Mary Berry’s fairy cakes.

The whole situation started with problems. U.K. vs U.S. measurements. Different ovens. Ingredients not in my store. Weighing the pros and cons of buying a coffee grinder to make British sugar. I was overwhelmed, and I honest to goodness considered buying a cake mix and lying to you. Sorry, friends. That was cruel of me. Instead, I found a similar recipe that still has me starting from scratch. I mean, I would have to zest a lemon for the first time, hence I figured I was in fancy cake territory.

If you check it out, the recipe seems quite simple, but my journey was . . . different. Let me give you the recipe for baking fairy cakes my way.

Step 1: throw away all of your expired ingredients. This may include flour, baking powder, and soy sauce.

Step 2: wash all the dishes in the sink. They’ve been piling up and who knows what you’ll really need mid-recipe.

Step 3: go to the store and replace all the expired ingredients (except the soy sauce — none of that is needed here) and get all the missing ingredients, too.

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Step 4: buy a new cupcake pan; yours is rusty.

Step 5: pre-heat the oven like the recipe says even though you know it will be forever until you stick anything in there. Consider the gas bill.

Step 6: fight to get cupcake papers open. Wish you had more delicate fingers to pull the individual papers apart to stick them in the pan holes.

Step 7: get out your best popcorn bowl and add in the regular sugar. Although you don’t want to add the eggs one at a time, the says recipe says you do. It makes little sense.

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For my non-U.S. friends, this is a measuring cup. There is no way in hell these are accurate, especially since when I shake the cup a little, the sugar goes down and I have to add more.

Step 8: add vanilla extract, the one ingredient that is not yet expired that you already had. #Winning

Step 9: find a separate bowl. Realize you’re a one-bowl kitchen. Pull out the giant salad bowl.

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Completely inappropriately-sized bowl.

Step 10: zest your lemon with a cheese grater. Add dry ingredients and whisk. Why whisk? There are no wet ingredients, which I thought was the purpose of the whisk. Don’t forget to give your lemon a little bath. Everybody and their brother has touched that thing in the store.

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Notice I throw egg shells in the sink for future me to deal with.

Step 11: hold the hand mixer and turn it on low. Add dry ingredients to eggy ingredients. Also add tiny bit of milk. Instructions say split dry ingredients and tiny bit of milk into threes and add back and forth. Realize you need more arms. Realize tiny bit of milk doesn’t want to be split into threes — it’s a tiny amount.

Step 12: realize your popcorn bowl was not designed for pouring and use weird little scooper thing that came with your steamed rice machine. Fill cupcake papers.

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Step 13: set time for 15 minutes, not the 17-20 recommended because your oven is a heat demon.

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Step 14: realize the rice scooper thingy you used came out of the dirty dishwasher. Text husband about what the moral thing to do is.

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Should say “fairy cakes,” not “fairy called.” I regret that no fairies call me.

Step 15: feel sad about naked post-zested lemon. Google “how to make lemonade for one lemon.” Taste lemonade.

Step 16: dump out lemonade.

Step 17: wash dishes. Again.

Step 18: use toothpick to determine if cupcakes are done. In lieu of putting cupcake pan on wire racks, leave cupcake pan where you set it.

Step 19: survey the damage so far.

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Step 20: put Rebecca in the DVD player and sit quietly while you think about the frosting not yet made.

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Is the powdered sugar supposed to foof out of the bag you just bought when you squeeze it?

Step 21: now that you’ve got your daily dose of Alfred Hitchcock, return to the kitchen. Notice two sticks of butter sitting on the counter. There should only be one. You totally forgot to add butter to the cupcakes. Your fairy cakes are #FailureCakes

Step 22: make the frosting anyway.

Step 23: mess around with the food coloring until you get something fun looking.

Step 24: add the gummy bears. These are the fantastic Alabanese gummies, made in Indiana. They come in flavors like watermelon and blueberry.

Step 25: sample a cupcake. Realize it tastes like a sugary brick. Apologize to all the ingredients for wielding them so poorly, and also to the cat — because she’s staring at you and yowling.

Step 26: pick all the Albanese gummy bears off the cupcakes and eat them.

Step 27: throw cupcakes in trash

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I didn’t even pick them up. I stabbed them with forks.

Step 28: as an extra kick in the teeth, realize that the sugar and flour bags got wet on the counter, which has stained the counter and made the ingredients in the bottoms of the bags rock hard.

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That stain is seriously not coming off. I wish I had a LEMON to clean it with. #FFS

Step 29: discover that your cupcakes WERE eaten, just not how you wanted them eaten…

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It chewed through the garbage bag and got purple frosting all over.

Final Verdict on Baking:

What a cluster F&%K.

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42 comments

  1. So sorry your fairy cakes came at such a cost but your post gave me a good laugh! (In Australia we traditionally call them patty cakes, although these days more commonly cupcakes).

  2. You definitely score points for trying! I think the whisk was to stop the flour clumping – only guessing, I’m not a cook, but mum would make me sieve the flour while she did more important things. The cupcakes look all right, I would have eaten them – when it comes to cake I have about as much discrimination as a racoon.

  3. Hilarious post to read, although I imagine pretty frustrating to experience. When I read the butter left out part I was like, “Oh no!” Have you ever baked anything else besides cupcakes before? I love to bake but do not like to cook. My husband is the opposite. Thanks for sharing this!

    • You’re welcome. Typically, I bake from mixes, so almost everything is already in there. I don’t bake often, though. I get a lot of anxiety around grocery shopping, but I’m a fair cook!

  4. I’m sorry for your sake that your cupcakes didn’t work out, but the rest of us got to benefit from this hilarious post!

    I also hate adding eggs one at a time, even though I get it. And cakes usually do turn out nicer if you add eggs one at a time and alternate pouring the milk in with the dry ingredients. Sometimes, though, I’m making something with too many eggs and I add them two at a time instead. And Bill’s right about the whisk, although I usually just use a spoon. And running out of bowls is the worst. It happens to me, even though I have about 12+ bowls around here!
    I gasped out loud when I saw all your hard work in the garbage can! Do you think you’ll ever try it again? You do still have some new ingredients… 🙂

    • I have eggs and many dry ingredients, so I think I have most of the stuff I would need to try again. I might just get cupcakes from a box. 😳 I thought bakers sifted dry ingredients to add air, but I’m not sure I was doing that with the whisk!

  5. The saga of having to do all those conversions was bad enough but you deserve a medal for the wrestling with the mechanics of making these. I hate to say this but these are about the easiest cakes to make – mums here turn them out in large quantities for kids parties. Unfortunately they do need butter. I know its possible to make fatless sponges but they don’t turn out all that well. Now you have all the ingredients you really need to have another go..

  6. Me 2 cents be that this post was absolutely hysterical and the best thing I read all day. I was laughing like a nut and had to read it out loud to the first mate. So damn funny. I needed this. I raise a glass of grog in honor of such a wonderful attempt. Arrrr!
    x The Captain

  7. This was the funniest thing to read! My old roommate had similar problems when she baked, and it was hilarious to watch. The more you practice the better you get, and when you do a little googling, you’ll figure out why we have to add eggs one at a time or whisk dry ingredients, etc. It might be the case that baking isn’t worth it, but you might discover a new passion. Drop me a line if you ever need any tips–I’m an amateur baker but my treats taste good. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for your kind offer! My husband, who is out of town this week, INSISTS that we try to make these fairy cakes together when he gets back. I want to go over the recipe with him and then I’ll get in touch if we have questions!

  8. Hahahaha!! I’m so sorry and yet so glad at the same time – it was so much funnier than if it had gone well! I remember vividly the horror of my attempt to make a Devonshire Honey Cake once – it also ended up in the bin (soggy middle) and I reckon with all the equipment and ingredients I had to buy it cost nearly as much as Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake…

    Well, at least you tried. 😀

    PS Lemon zest?? Not in any fairy cake I’ve ever eaten!

  9. *standing ovation*

    This is the best post I’ve read in a LONG time. I literally laughed so hard I threw my laptop on the floor (accidentally!). Thank you for being my friend.

    Moar of these, please. Only, I hope these are less stressful in the future!

      • Um. I might have been carrying my laptop in one hand and reading this on the WP app on my phone with the other. It sorta… well, slipped. O_o I also distrubed the whole floor of co-workers, I’m sure. Not just from the throwing of the laptop and its clattering, but also from my obnoxious cackling. I tried to be subtle. But, well, that’s not my forte.

        • Did the coworkers swoop in to see what was so funny? That post got shared quite a bit on Facebook! I wonder if it was all my Granny and her friends, but I’m starting to think otherwise.

  10. This is hilarious. Thank you so much for this. It brought a smile to my face after that jury summons. Unless something dripped on the rice scooper, I say it wouldn’t negatively affect the fairy cakes. Oh no, forgetting an ingredient is an awful feeling, especially when you already spent so much time on a recipe. Well, at least someone enjoyed them.

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