Hands off our Buns!

Apr 8, 2012 by

Can you imagine the entire American continent and possibly Canada as well watch an episode of Fair City where two of the characters are sitting on the steps of a block of apartments eating buns or fairy cakes and chatting about their love lives?  On foot of this they rename cupcakes – buns!  Slightly implausible?  Well correct me if I am wrong but is this not what we have done this side of the Atlantic?  I had never heard of cupcakes before Sex and the City and I lived in the US as a student for 18 months a good number of years ago.

 Cupcakes were so called originally because they were baked in individual pottery cups before muffin tins were available. They may also have been named after the method of measuring the ingredients using cups.  Here, they were referred to as fairy cakes – particularly if they were iced and they also may have had the tip of the bun sliced off, cut in half and placed on top of the icing to resemble the wings of a fairy.

We baked fairy cakes as kids for parties and special occasions.  Buns were more bog standard – often not iced but they may have had dried fruit added or just were a plain Victoria mix.  As far as I can see the recipes for cupcakes and fairy cakes/buns are basically the same.  Some people swear by addition of yoghurt to a mix to keep them fresher for longer. 

The craze for cupcakes this side of the Atlantic seems to be never ending and ever more fanciful decorations and toppings are being thought up every day.  They have now become popular as wedding cakes.  I can only imagine my grandmother’s words if she had been alive to witness this fashion.  In her day it was traditional to have the rich fruit cake; iced and decorated in tiers so that the top tier was preserved as the Christening cake for the first child. 

The thing that bugs me most about the cupcake craze is not the concept of the cupcake itself but the desire to slavishly follow fashion set by America.  It is almost as if we have to rename our fairy cakes or buns to make them more desirable and to sell.  Traditional American baking fashions and methods are to be no less admired than our traditions; but why sell out on our own?

Related Posts


Share This


  1. Love it! Have you noticed too that every fair has an over abundance of 'cupcake' sellers? How many cupcakes can the world take! We had fairy cakes too, my favourite were the one's with the cream and wings!

  2. It's a phase hopefully! Soon our world will be restored to default setting and buns 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *