Stardust: English Fairy Cakes

Year Released: 2007
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Sienna Miller
(PG-13, 128 min.)

"Love doesn’t make the world go around. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile." Franklin P. Jones

This fairy tale is as sweet and light as a summer sorbet. It’s about young love, cold beauty, evil crones, a swishy pirate, conspiring princes and the fallen star that compels them all.

Young Tristan (Charlie Cox), desperate to win the hand of the local comely coquette, Victoria (Sienna Miller), promises to bring her the shooting star they see fall from the heavens. To do so he must venture outside his tidy English village into a world filled with magic and menace, competing with ruthless powers that want the star for reasons of their own.

Of course, the fact that the shooting star falls to earth as the lovely maiden Yvaine (Claire Danes), as wise and radiant as her former celestial self, tends to complicate matters. Having watched humankind for untold centuries, Yvaine knows more than a little about love, and her candid questions to the besotted Tristan are not easily turned away. Why must he have “proof” of his love for the fickle Victoria – actually Yvaine refers to it as a bribe – and just what is Victoria doing to prove herself?

These philosophical ruminations on the nature of love are interrupted by an impending storm and the sudden appearance of a stunning white charger, a unicorn, in fact, who is sent to rescue Yvaine from her reluctant role as involuntary love token. Unfortunately, the savior stallion takes her directly to a magical inn created on the spot by the wicked witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), whose take on matters of the heart runs more to the flesh and blood variety, as in feasting on the still beating delicacy freshly ripped from an unsuspecting Yvaine. I mean a girl has to do what a girl has to do to regain lost youth.

Quite a bit of the fun watching Stardust is Pfeiffer’s delightfully wicked performance, one with a certain element of self-aware parody. Perhaps only someone as established and confident as Pfeiffer could relish in the sagging skin, the wizened age spots and the almost hairless head she sports so boldly to the camera’s eye. Certainly this desperate quest for tight skin and firm flesh is a Hollywood fixation, and one may question whether injecting oneself with a derivative of botulism toxin is that far removed from dining on a beating heart.

Having just as much fun with his over the top role is Robert De Niro’s turn as the pirate Captain Shakespeare, Hardy Har Har and tough as nails on deck, but secretly a sensitive gourmet who enjoys a few turns in feathers and lace behind his locked cabin door. Clearly De Niro, whose heretofore parts have generally had a healthy injection of mafia macho bad boy, loves this casting against type, and while he doesn’t quite live up to the swishy swashbuckling standard set by Johnny Depp, it’s hard not to like a performance when the actor is obviously having such a good time.

Veteran Peter O’Toole, enjoying a run as resident misanthrope in such recent vehicles as Venus and Ratatouille, relishes his kingly deathbed scene even more when ambitious seventh son Septimus (Mark Strong) deftly coaxes his brother Secundus to bow out from the succession rivalry via a quick shove from the tower window. The second son joins his equally unfortunate brothers in a sepia toned limbo, each one wearing the grotesque mask of the own death, be it an axe in the head, a foul plague, or the very smashed in face of the recent arrival Secundus. They go along for the ride as Septimus tries to snatch the fallen star to win the throne, huddling in his horse drawn carriage like a clipping of slightly more than three stooges pasted in the tight compartment.

The final showdown at the enchanted castle wicked Lamia shares with her equally vile sisters is quite a spectacle, what with caged wolves, captured lightning, electric green witching powder, and a little bit of old fashioned voodoo magic thrown in to entertain an imperiled Yvaine as she lies strapped down to what looks like a menacing medieval operating table.

But as anyone can tell you, the course of true love never was meant to be easy.

—Kathy Borich

Film-Loving Foodie

Except for roasted foul that acts like truth serum on the culinary victim and the aforementioned hunger for a living raw heart, not much real food is eaten in Stardust. Let’s face it, there’s enough going on already and the frenetic quest is so urgent, we don’t really have time to settle down for a leisurely meal on screen.

But whether or not the film shows any, it literally calls for Fairy cakes, those simple English delights of childhood memories. Our recipe source, Sam Breach, swears that her delicious cakes will attract the magical creatures. If you doubt her, just click on the source link below.

English Fairy Cakes

Ingredients (makes 30 mini fairy cakes)

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 4 ounces Baker's or Caster Sugar
  • 4 ounces sifted Self Raising Flour (or All-purpose flour + half tsp baking powder + pinch salt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sifted Powdered or Icing sugar
  • Juice of a lemon (*and zest, optional)
  • Food coloring of your choice if desired

Method

-Put butter and eggs out of the fridge, to warm up to room temperature.
-Preheat oven to 375F
-Put out 30 mini paper cases on a baking tray.
-Either by hand or in a mixer bet the butter and sugar together until pale, fluffy and light. (*optional - add lemon zest at this stage if you desire)
-One at a time, beat the eggs in a separate bowl and then add to the sugar/butter mixture, beating hard, until all the ingredients are incorporated.
-Gently fold the flour into the butter mixture until everything is combined. Do not over mix or beat the flour.
-Using a teaspoon, drop small heaped teaspoon dollops of the batter into the paper cases. 
-Transfer the tray to the preheated oven. Leave at least 17 minutes without opening the door. They should be golden brown on the surface once cooked. If still a bit pale after 17 minutes, turn the tray in the oven and bake for a further 3 minutes.
Transfer mini cakes to a cooling rack.
-Meanwhile add a few drops of coloring to the sifted powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Add fresh lemon juice, a small squirt at a time, beating hard, until all the sugar is blended into a thick fondant. Go gingerly with the liquid, you want it to be very thick. Stop adding lemon juice as soon as it reaches the fondant stage.
-Carefully drop a dollop of the fondant onto the centre of each little cake. Leave it to spread over the surface. You can guide the icing with a knife dipped in hot water if you want more control over where it dribbles.
-Top with a candy or cake decoration of your choice, perhaps a few sprinkles to make your very own stardust.
-Look for the fairies!

Recipe Source: Becks and Posh