To Make Fairy Butter

This fragrant dish is often used on pancakes and scones or as a dessert sauce on gingerbread.


18th Century

“Take the yolks of two hard eggs in a mortar with a large spoonful of orange flower water, and two tea spoonfuls of fine sugar beat to a powder; beat all together till it is a fine paste then mix it up with about as much fresh butter out of the churn and force it through a fine strainer full of little holes into a plate. This is a pretty thing to set of a table at supper.”

—The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy

21st Century

  • ½ pound butter
  • 2 hard-boiled egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp orange flower water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  1. Put your eggs until hard; let cool and peel them. Remove yolks.
  2. Put the yolks in a large bowl with the sugar and the orange flower water.* Beat them all together with the back of a fork or spoon until they come to a fine paste.
  3. Add your butter and mix until smooth.
  4. Pass this mixture through a fine sieve or strainer onto a plate. Decorate with flowers, if you wish.

* Orange flower water can be purchased online or in Middle East grocers and shops.

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4 Responses to “To Make Fairy Butter”

  1. January 16th, 2015

    Tiffany says:

    This receipt also pairs really well with Hannah Glasse’s saffron cake! “Modern” folk are always pleasantly surprised.

    Miss you guys!

  2. February 17th, 2015

    Susan says:

    1. I am curious why this compound butter is characterized as a “Fairy” butter? 2. For the modern version of the recipe, wouldn’t it be easier to toss the ingredients into a food processor bowl a n d give it a whirl? 3. Is it possible to subscribe to this blog? Thanks!

    • March 2nd, 2015

      Historic Foodways says:

      Dear Susan,
      Sure you can put it all in a food processer but then you miss out on the fun of grinding it by hand! I am not sure why the term Fairy butter was used. I will check into it and see if anything comes up.

  3. January 10th, 2016

    Dina says:

    I am just curious as why the egg yolks were added. Was it for color?

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