The origin of this easy and whimsical three-ingredient recipe can be traced back to Australia and New Zealand. It is simply sliced white bread spread with butter and covered with multi-colored round "hundreds and thousands," the Australian term for sprinkles. It is then typically cut into two triangles.
If you ask any Aussie, they will tell you that for an authentic Australian fairy bread experience, inexpensive grocery store sliced white bread is the only way to go. Many will also say margarine is often used instead of any high-quality butter and that there is a magical ratio to butter and sprinkles on the bread. The butter needs to be spread on thick enough to allow the sprinkles to adhere, but not so much that it overpowers the flavor.
Fairy bread dates all the way back to the 1920s in Australia where the recipe was first mentioned in The Hobart Mercury newspaper. The article describes children consuming fairy bread at a party. Since that time fairy bread has been particular to children's birthday parties in both Australia and New Zealand. To this day, for many Australians, fairy bread is as synonymous with children's birthday parties as balloons and games and continues to be a favorite nostalgic treat.
Gather the ingredients.
Lightly butter one side of each slice of bread.
Coat the entire buttered side of each slice with sprinkles.
- When adding small, round, multi-colored sprinkles to fairy bread, they have a tendency to roll all around on the countertop and even make a mess on the kitchen floor. To prevent them from escaping and rolling everywhere, be sure to place the buttered bread slices inside a rimmed baking pan before topping with the sprinkles.
Cut each slice on an angle to form triangles. Some children have memories of the crusts kept attached to each triangle, while others claim crustless fairy bread is the way to go. Feel free to make it whichever way your kids prefer.
The origin of the term fairy bread is not known, but some say it may come from the poem 'Fairy Bread' by Robert Louis Stevenson in his anthology A Child's Garden of Verses published in 1885. The poem is as follows:
Come up here, O dusty feet!
Here is fairy bread to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
Children, you may dine
On the golden smell of broom
And the shade of pine;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.
- For a variation on fairy bread, try topping buttered bread with chocolate sprinkles instead. This treat is popular in the Netherlands, where it is called "hagelslag," which quaintly translates to "hailstorm."