Butterfly Cakes

Last weekend I decided to bake butterfly cakes – another first for me πŸ™‚ I followed Mary Berry’s recipe on page 51 of her book 100 Cakes and Bakes. I love this book – it’s full of great recipes and I come back to it time and time again. I thought it would be nice to bake these butterfly cakes in pretty baking cases, so five minutes before my hubby went to the shops, I asked him to look for some. But when he returned, he said he’d forgotten to look! Typical eh! So I made do with the plain baking cases in my cupboard. To make the cakes look visually more exciting (and because my husband is a chocolate fiend) I decided to bake half the batch with plain butter cream icing and the rest with chocolate icing. I think they turned out well – I just wish I hadn’t taken 235 photos, as it made selecting photos for this blog post a little tedious πŸ˜‰

Making the Cakes

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

First of all, I gathered all the ingredients to make the cakes. Here’s what I used:

  • 100 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 100 g self-raising flour
  • 1 level tsp baking powder

I still haven’t bought matching bowls for my ingredients yet!:

Cake Ingredients
Butterfly Cake Ingredients

Step 2: Place cases in bun tin

For this recipe you need a 12-hole bun tin. Don’t laugh at me, but I was really excited to discover I had one of these in the cupboard! Maybe it’s just me, but it’s always a great feeling when you find you already have all the equipment you need to make a new recipe πŸ˜‰ Next, I put the fairy cake cases into the tin:

Bun Tin
Fairy cake cases in bun tin

Step 3: Turn on the oven

I turned on the fan oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Step 4:Β  Make cake mixture

I placed all the cake ingredients (butter, caster sugar, eggs, self-raising flour and baking powder) into a large bowl and beat it for a couple of minutes until it was fully blended and smooth. At this point I was in a bit of a quandary, as I didn’t know whether to beat the mixture with a wooden spoon, or whether to use my electric hand mixer . Maybe the implement doesn’t matter and I was being too pedantic, but I decided to do a bit of research (this is how you learn, right?). The recipe specifically states ‘beat’, so I looked up what this means exactly and BBC Good Food says that beating is “the rigorous mixing of ingredients using a wooden spoon, electric whisk, food mixer or food processor.” So, I started off using my hand whisk, but the mixture looked a little lumpy, so I got scared and finished it off with my wooden spoon (when in doubt, try a bit of everything haha). The recipe said to beat well for two to three minutes – I didn’t time mine, I just beat it until it looked well beaten:

Cake Mixture
Butterfly cake ingredients to be mixed
Mixed Cake Mixture
Butterfly Cake Mixture

Step 5: Spoon mixture into cases

Next, I put a spoonful of cake mixture into each case:

Cake Mixture in Cases
Butterfly Cakes Spooned into Cases

Step 6: Bake cakes

The recipe says to bake the cakes for 15 – 20 minutes or until the cakes are well risen and golden brown. I baked mine for 20 minutes; as I’m not very confident I know what golden brown looks like exactly, I didn’t want to take them out too soon. I’d say mine are probably on the darker golden brown side, so maybe I could have taken them out a bit earlier. They definitely rose… but some rose unequally and splurged over the side of the cases! Maybe I should have smoothed the mixture out in the cases with a spoon before I put them in the oven? Then I lifted the cakes (still in their cases) out of the tin and left them to cool on a cooling tray (can you believe that out of the 235 photos I took, I didn’t get one of the cakes on the cooling tray?!?):

Baked Butterfly Cakes
Baked Butterfly Cakes

Making the Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

Step 1: Make piping bag

I hate making piping bags as it’s fiddly and time-consuming. I really must buy some piping bags and nozzles for next time. For this piping bag, I used a party bag and attached a plastic star nozzle using sellotape:

Piping Bag
Piping Bag

Step 2: Gather the ingredients

As I mentioned earlier, I decided to make half the batch with chocolate butter cream icing and half with plain butter cream icing. To do this, I halved the ingredients that Mary Berry gave for the icing. Here are the ingredients I used for the chocolate butter cream icing:

  • 88 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 175 g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tbsp hot water
  • Extra icing sugar for dusting
Butter Cream Ingredients
Chocolate Butter Cream Icing Ingredients

Step 3: Make chocolate butter cream icing

I mixed the cocoa powder with the hot water using a wooden spoon, and then left it to cool slightly:

Cocoa Powder and Hot Water
Cocoa Powder Mixed with Hot Water

Next, I added the softened butter and sifted icing sugar and beat it with my electric hand whisk (followed by a stir with my wooden spoon) until the mixture was fully blended. I was a bit concerned it looked a bit lumpy, but hubby thought it looked okay (and that’s what matters, right?!):

Chocolate Butter Cream Icing
Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

Step 4: Make butterfly wings

Okay, so the recipe says to “cut a slice from the top of each cake and cut this slice in half”. I used a small knife to do this. From the picture below we can see that my interpretation of the word “slice” was “hole”. I think I was concerned about not cutting a big enough slice to be able to make wings from it, so my slice-cutting was more like excavating πŸ˜‰ On the plus side, it meant that there was lots of room for the butter cream filling, but the larger wings were quite unruly and prone to breaking apart!:

Holes in Butterfly Cakes
Butterfly Cakes with Wings Cut Out

Step 5: Pipe butter cream icing into cakes

Next, I filled my piping bag with the chocolate butter cream icing:

Icing in Piping Bag
Piping Bag with Chocolate Butter Cream Icing

I piped the butter cream into the holes by starting at the bottom, and using circular motions working upwards. The recipe says to “pipe a swirl” into the cakes; I definitely think my cakes have a swirl and some! Anyway, given I don’t have any experience with piping, I was fairly pleased with this effort:

Piped Chocolate Butterfly Cakes
Piped Chocolate Butterfly Cakes

Step 6: Place butterfly wings on top

Okay, so perhaps I should have had the recipe open with the illustration to hand before I attempted this stage. The next step was to “place the half slices of cake on top to resemble butterfly wings”. This was definitely the most stressful part of the whole bake. I think the “to resemble butterfly wings” part hasn’t quite worked; I think mine look more like fairy wings! Never mind; I think they look okay:

Chocolate Butterfly Cakes
Chocolate Butterfly Cakes with Wings Inserted

Making the Butter Cream Icing

Step 1: Gather the ingredients

To make the butter cream icing, I used the following ingredients:

  • 88 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 175 g icing sugar (sifted)
  • Extra icing sugar for dusting
Butter Cream Ingredients Batch 2
Butter Cream Ingredients

Step 2: Make butter cream icing

I beat the icing sugar and butter together with my electric hand whisk (followed by a stir with my wooden spoon πŸ˜‰ ) until fully blended. This butter cream did not come out lumpy like the chocolate one:

Butter and Icing Sugar
Butter and Icing Sugar
Butter Cream Icing
Butter Cream Icing

Step 3: Make butterfly wings

Here is attempt number two at making butterfly wings; I was happiest with the middle cake on the bottom row, which features more of a slice, than a deep hole ;-):

Holes in Butterfly Cakes Batch 2
Butterfly Cakes with Wings Cut Out

Step 4: Pipe butter cream icing into cakes

Okay, so this was a nightmare. This has not happened to me before, but my makeshift piping bag burst on me midway through piping the butter cream into the cakes!:

Icing in Piping Bag Batch 2
Piping Bag filled with Butter Cream Icing
Burst Piping Bag
Burst Piping Bag!! Grrr

As a result of the burst piping bag, I couldn’t control the flow of the butter cream and so the piping didn’t go very well. As you can see below, the piping is uneven and messy, and I couldn’t pipe as much onto the cakes as I would have liked (note to self: must remember to buy strong piping bags):

Piped Butterfly Cakes
Butterfly Cakes with Piped Butter Cream Icing

Step 5: Place butterfly wings on top

Then I placed my “butterfly” wings onto the cakes:

Butterfly Cakes
Butterfly Cakes with Wings Inserted

Et voila! Here are the 12 cakes arranged nicely on a cooling tray:

Twelve Butterfly Cakes
Butterfly Cakes

At this point, I thought I was finished, so I proceeded to take multiple photos as the husband was lurking because he wanted to eat one…:

Butterfly Cakes 1
Butterfly Cakes on Cooling Tray
Butterfly Cakes 2
Butterfly Cakes at Funky Angle
Butterfly Cakes 3
Close-up of Butterfly Cakes

Husband was still lurking, so I gave in and we each ate a cake. It was at that point that I realised I had forgotten the final touch of dusting the cakes with icing sugar! So I dusted the remaining ten cakes with icing sugar, and took some more pictures…:

Butterfly Cakes with Icing Sugar
Dusted Butterfly Cakes
Butterfly Cakes with Icing Sugar
Close-up of Butterfly Cakes
Butterfly Cakes with Icing Sugar 2
Another Close-up of Butterfly Cakes
Butterfly Cakes with Icing Sugar_Close Up
Yet Another Close-up of Butterfly Cakes!
Pair of Butterfly Cakes
A Pair of Butterfly Cakes


Visually, I was quite pleased with the cakes, although maybe they were slightly too golden. Next time I’ll try to ensure the cakes rise equally. I’m also a bit confused about the wings and their positioning – I think mine probably look more like fairy wings than butterfly wings, but hey ho! Taste-wise, the cakes were delicious, although I have definitely learnt the hard way that I cannot eat three in one evening without feeling sick the next day! This is the problem when it is just me and the husband – we end up devouring everything I bake ourselves! Maybe I will bake something savoury next weekend…

So, here’s a few questions for all you expert bakers; how brown is golden brown and what is the difference between a fairy cake and a butterfly cake? Is it just to do with the pesky wing positioning, or are there differences in terms of the cakes themselves? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Published by

Helena Davies

Baker and Linguist based in Cardiff, Wales.

6 thoughts on “Butterfly Cakes”

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