If you grew up in Australia, chances are that you have attended a children’s birthday party which involved chocolate crackles and/or fairy bread. They are such childhood party staples that I only realised recently, when a friend of mine who is Scottish looked at me quizzically when these foods were mentioned, that perhaps they weren’t exactly a worldwide thing! Neither item requires baking at all – they are quick, easy, and well-loved – so I decided to make them for my own birthday!
For the uninitiated, fairy bread is just slices of fresh white bread (and it HAS to be white bread) spread with butter, and sprinkled liberally with 100’s & 1000’s. Then cut into quarters, preferably triangles. Sounds like you can’t go wrong, right? Well, there was actually some serious debate in our house about the ‘right’ way to make fairy bread, and it resulted in me being kicked out of the kitchen by my husband, and being called a communist for leaving the crusts on. I say the crusts have to stay on so that it gives you something to hold while you eat it, and is a barrier for holding the sprinkles in, on one side at least. Like pizza. Apparently the purists insist on cutting the crusts off. I think that is just unnecessary fanciness. My father then called and weighed in on the debate by agreeing about keeping the crusts on, but thinking the bread only needs to be cut in half. He was fairly well shot down for that one.
Crust or not crusts, they go down well. On this occasion the adults appreciated the fairy bread more than 11.5-month-old James, who mostly liked sticking his hands in the buttery sprinkle topping and then wiping it in my hair.
Chocolate crackles require slightly more effort, but not much. This recipe makes about 24. Remember to make them in advance so that they have time to set.
1 cup icing sugar
4 cups rice bubbles
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup desiccated coconut
Line cupcake trays with paper liners. Melt the copha. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the copha and mix thoroughly. Spoon into the cupcake liners and refrigerate until set.
Again there was some debate about the making of the chocolate crackles – if you want to get fancy you can drizzle melted chocolate over the top, or decorate the tops with silver cachous or sprinkles or something. My mum used to attempt to make them healthier by adding sultanas to the mix. She once tried to make fairy bread with wholemeal bread though…