Portuguese cakes are a wonderful thing, and these delicate little fairy cakes my wife made for this guest post were certainly sweet and addictive. Although these cakes came from one our favourite books of Portuguese recipes, Piri Piri Starfish, I am not sure I am convinced just HOW Portuguese they are, as they resembled very English buns! Regardless of their heritage they were simple and delicious.
Piri Piri Starfish is a wonderful Portuguese recipe book which I received as a present from my niece, and I highly recommend it as a gift to others. Along with a range of recipes from Portugal it includes great photography, and food-writing that makes touring Portugal and putting on plenty of weight along the way seem hugely appealing.
Over to the wife:
I ended up cooking this recipe because I wanted to cook something that was Portuguese and cheap. It uses only store cupboard ingredients, so cost nothing at all to make, but the resulting fairy cakes were a lovely treat.
The basic recipe is simplicity itself:
85g soft butter
4 tablespoons caster sugar
Few drops vanilla essence
4 tablespoons plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla essence, then whisk in the eggs one by one before mixing in the flour and baking powder. Once you’ve made a nice mixture, divide it up into bun cases, half-filling each one.
This is where the recipe gets interesting. Although you can leave the fairy cakes plain, you can also top them with whatever you have to hand. I used orange zest, lemon zest, roasted hazelnuts and sugar sprinkles – all things I happened to have in the kitchen. Once topped, they bake for 15 minutes at 180°C.
These Portuguese cakes really are simplicity itself to make. I’ve made them from several recipes over the years, but these were definitely some of the tastiest. Plus being able to top them with whatever happens to be in the kitchen makes them a perfect end of the month treat. The only problem I encountered was leaving the plate of cooling buns in front of my husband while I cleared up the kitchen – I was only out of the room for a couple of minutes, but three had disappeared by the time I returned…