Plastic-Free Me: The (almost) plastic-free fairy cake

In our house, we eat a lot of sweet things (well, the adults do!) As I have friends round for coffee and play regularly, there is always something just asking to be consumed…Things are going to have to change in July though as it’s not easy to find sweet treats that aren’t wrapped in at least one layer of plastic!

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Just some of the biscuits in my cupboard!

Cutting sweet things out altogether isn’t an especially attractive option so I have no choice but to get baking!

I have limited time available at the moment for baking, so I tend to stick to favorite recipes that work, are fast, and that the children enjoy. Top of that list is fairy cakes. The recipe I use is this one from the BBC website which has never failed me (I ditch the vanilla extract and food colouring).

Yesterday I decided to work out if I could create a plastic free fairy cake. I didn’t quite manage it but I came close and, best of all, I can easily make a batch of 12 with significantly less plastic than the packaging of the biscuits I usually eat.

Of the ingredients in the recipe, the following are totally plastic-free :

• Self raising flour (paper bag)
• Caster sugar (paper bag)
• Eggs (cardboard egg box delivered in my veg box – we even return the egg boxes so that they can be reused)
• Water (from the tap!)
• Smarties (in a cardboard tube) I hadn’t thought of these yesterday but will use for decoration in July

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Other ingredients that aren’t plastic-free:

• Milk (to be delivered in glass bottles during July, but a plastic lid is still involved I think)
• Butter (looks like it’s wrapped in foil and paper but I’m pretty sure from soaking it that there is a layer of plastic hidden in there!)
• Icing sugar (bought in a cardboard packet but again, from pulling it apart, I am highly suspicious of plastic content!)

Today I got my youngest child on board to assist. My kids adore making fairy cakes! For ages I innocently thought their motivation was the joy of creating, but I have since discovered it’s actually the joy of scraping the bowl. No matter – if there’s joy of some sort involved, it works for us all!

The first task for my little helper was to line the bun tray with my new silicon cake cases (zero waste!) Unfortunately though, I realised that 6 of the 12 cases still had residue on them from the last batch of cakes we made.

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Check out those white flecks of cake gone by – yuk!


This was annoying as I’d washed and dried them thoroughly myself, so we substituted the dirty cases for their paper equivalents which were bought in a plastic packet.

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I blame myself for impulse buying the (probably low quality) silicon cases for a mere £2 while standing in the queue at Hobbycraft! For paper cases that come in cardboard read this post on the Plastic Is Rubbish site. I will continue using the silicone ones though, I just have to be aware that they need a really really good scrub!

After some messy stirring, and a few rogue fingers in the mixture (not mine!), the cakes came out nicely and we enjoyed decorating them. I popped them in a tin to complement my plastic-free theme.

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Okay, the tin looks a bit plastic-coated but it’s not single use plastic!

Here’s the plastic waste that resulted from making the fairy cakes:

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Butter wrapper, milk carton lid, waxy paper icing sugar packet

Bare in mind though that I only used less than half of the packet of butter, a tenth of the icing sugar and just a glug of milk, so I would say that actually amounts to very little plastic! Consequently, that will reduce the amount of rubbish that goes into my bin for July which makes me happy…

Out of interest I also worked out the cost to see how they much they would cost. For 6, I estimate it would cost me around £1.15 (for the share of the ingredients). Not super-cheap if you compare the price to supermarket fairy cakes, but given that my milk and butter are organic and the eggs are free-range, organic and local, then it’s a price I’m happy to pay.

Can you help me perfect my plastic-free fairy cakes or perhaps suggest other cake recipes?

11 thoughts on “Plastic-Free Me: The (almost) plastic-free fairy cake

    • Doh! Of course, I remember that from my childhood. We have just got too used to convenience, haven’t we?! Must get myself a decent food processor and then I’ll be a step closer to that plastic-free fairy cake 🙂

  1. I am able to buy Welsh butter (Calon Wen) that comes in greaseproof paper… you may be able to find an equivalent. My icing sugar sometimes comes in just a paper bag, but that isn’t the sort that I’ve got at the moment so I can’t check its composition… what I do have looks like yours. And, do milk bottles not have foil tops any more… I haven’t even seen any for years 😦
    Keep up the good work!

    • OOh, I wish I could find butter like that. Elizabeth has suggested making icing sugar from granulated by blending, which is what I remember from my childhood so that one can be solved. As for the milk, I assumed it would be foil topped when I set up my milk order but times have moved on, it seems and we are all just crazy about plastic now!! 😦

  2. Pingback: Plastic-free Me: The (almost) plastic-free pizza | westywrites

  3. Pingback: Day 6: Plastic Free July 2014 | westywrites

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