In America, we have a lot of different treats made basically entirely out of sugar. As it turns out, we’re not the only ones. Australia has had Fairy Bread since the 1920s at least, as a cheap, simple, and customizable treat for children and the adults who were once children themselves.
Fair Bread is one of those simple little treats that an entire culture seems to love, so I decided that at some point I would need to try it out. My tastes are pretty simple, so I expected I would at least enjoy it, though it’s the variations I was most excited to try.
So, what is real Australian Fairy Bread made out of?
- White bread. The cheapest, most basic white bread you can find, generally. You don’t want good bread here, it’s too firm and chewy. No, you want that processed, bleached, almost substanceless bread that would probably legally be considered cake in Europe.
- Butter. The butter adds oomph and fat to the treat, making it richer and more cloying. Apparently, margarine is the usual go-to, but a bit of salted butter works better in my view. Try to have soft, room-temperature butter for ease of spread on soft, cake-like bread.
- Sprinkles. Specifically, the tiny hard round “edible ball bearing” style nonpareils. In Australia, these things are called “hundreds and thousands” or “100s and 1000s”, for reasons that are completely unknown to me other than cultural inertia. The crunch, the color, and the sugar with no real flavor to it are all key elements of the Aussie treat.
That’s it. It’s super simple, super basic, and the core flavor profile is sugar. That’s it, just sugar. In America, our equivalent is cinnamon-sugar toast, and it at least has cinnamon to add to the flavors.
I’m guessing you can piece together how to make it from here, but I’ll still give you the recipe down below. First, though: the variations! Each of the ingredients can be changed up.
First, you could change the bread. White bread is the go-to, because it’s neutral, sweet, cake-like, and appealing to children. If you want something a little heartier, a little more flavorful, or even just a little healthier, you can certainly go for it. I wouldn’t go any further than a light wheat bread, though, otherwise you’re just muddling up the point of the treat. But hey, Fairy Bread is a super simple treat, so feel free to have it your way.
The other option is to toast the bread. I like it more toasted, personally, but I’m also not a toddler picky about textures. Your mileage may vary.
Second, you could change the fat. Salted butter is the one I found most appealing while sticking to the core of what Fairy Bread is. That said, you can try:
- Unsalted butter, in case the contrast of the slightly salty butter with the sweet sprinkles is off-putting to you.
- Margarine, if you want something a little softer, a little less rich, and a little more artificial. Given everything else in this dessert, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch, I just don’t keep it on hand.
- Peanut Butter. I tried this one out and it works fine, but you end up with a peanut butter treat rather than a sugar treat. Really, you get the same effect by using crunchy peanut butter. The sprinkles add texture but not really flavor.
- Nutella. I’ve seen people recommend Nutella as the substitute here, which I think is a bit crazy. Nutella is super rich, and it’s delicious, but you’re very much getting into something that isn’t Fairy Bread at that point.
The richer and more flavorful your fat layer, the further away from Fairy Bread you’re getting.
Finally, of course, you can change the sprinkles. The traditional hard little sugar balls gives you a gritty sort of crunch, similar to something like chia seeds. Some people find that unpleasant, or want something different. Options include:
- Strand sprinkles, the kind that are longer ovals of soft, almost waxy sprinkle. These are fine, but they lose the texture, so that’s a trade-off you need to understand.
- Chocolate sprinkles. If you want more flavor to your Fairy Bread but you don’t want to go all the way by using a different fat layer, chocolate sprinkles are the way to go.
- Crystal sugar. This dusting sugar makes Fairy Bread a whole lot more like the cinnamon-sugar bread I like to eat, just without the cinnamon. If all you want (or all your child will tolerate) is sugared bread, this is fine.
Some of these combinations and variations are other desserts. There’s a version with chocolate sprinkles, called Hagelslag in Dutch, and an Indonesian version that uses banana slices instead of butter.
Make it however you like! Here’s what you do for the basic Fairy Bread.
Australian Fairy Bread
- Butter Knife
- 2 Slices White Bread
- Start by preparing your ingredients if you need to. Make sure the butter is soft and at room temperature. Stick the bread in the freezer for a few minutes to make it harder if you have trouble spreading the butter around.
- Coat the bread with a thin layer of butter.
- Pour the sprinkles over the bread, lightly pressing them into the butter to adhere. Alternatively, pour the sprinkles into a flat bowl or plate, and press the bread butter-side down into it.
- Cut each slice into triangles and enjoy.