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Decorating a Butterfly Cake (facebook Question)

By: Clare Birtles - Updated: 28 May 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
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Q.I am not a professional baker, but have had great success with my kids' birthday cakes over the years. My youngest daughter has requested a butterfly cake for her 8th birthday. I am not very 'arty' but I do want this cake to have a bit of a 'wow' factor for her and her friends. I have a butterfly cake tin (silicon) and I'm doing a plain sponge. I desperately need advice on two things: What kind of icing would be best buttercream, ganache and fondant have all been suggested! What decorations to use...sweets, sparkles? Help!

(Caroline, 7 May 2013)

A.

A perfect cake for an 8 year old daughter! Cakes made with love by mum always go down well, not to mention attracting the envy of other mums.

For a butterfly cake, you can use a mould as you suggest (much easier), or shape your own out of two 8" or 9" inch sponge cakes. We always choose a madeira sponge for larger cakes, madeira is a more 'sturdy' sponge and doesn't collapse when you ice and decorate it.

If the cake is deep enough, slice and fill it with jam and buttercream if you like. For the actual decoration, the world is your oyster, with numerous options. Here are few of our suggestions followed by some great ideas from our facebook fans.

Buttercream, Fondant, Ganache...?

For the icing itself you could choose:
  • A buttercream crumb coat with fondant icing. You could use different colours for the various parts of the butterfly. The downside of fondant would be that fondant might be hard to shape into the nooks and crannies of the cake, especially if you've used a cake mould with lots of detail. The upside is that when it is dry, you can actually paint edible colours straight onto it
  • Buttercream icing - use one part butter to two parts icing sugar - check our guide for some great flavours. Use various colours or a plain colour with decorations like sugar sprinkles or sparkles. The downside is that it is sometimes difficult to get a smooth finish, the upside is that you can get it into the detailed parts of the cake easily
  • Ganache - a chocolate ganache would work. To get a pale colour, white chocolate ganache would be good. It will be easy to apply and to fill the nooks and crannies. The downside is that it is very rich and white chocolate in particular is not to everyone's taste

Decorating

This is where the fun really starts. If you've covered your cake with fondant, use one shade, then allow it to dry and paint patterns in lovely pastel shades with food colours. Or model small shapes like spots and stripes from left over fondant then apply with a small amount of edible glue. Alternatively colour different batches of fondant and apply in shapes all over the butterfly. If you have chosen to buttercream the cake, you will find it easy to apply lots of decorations, such as sugar sprinkles, sparkledust, pearls, grated chocolate etc. Ready to use icing gel in tubes is great for patterns and super easy to use - you could try this on buttercream, ganache or fondant. Have fun doing the antennae with twisted marshmallow sticks or liquorice string.

Some Suggestions from Cakebaker Facebookers

Just a few pointers from us there, but what do our facebook fans think? Take a look:

I have made butterfly cakes from a mould. I have used ganache..buttercream as well as fresh cream and all work brilliantly!I also lightly traced the butterfly wings with a knife on the ganache for extra effect.

I would use buttercream or fondant as both can be easily coloured, buttercream would be easier for decorating it with sweets.

Don't forget the cake release spray! The silicon butterfly was the first silicon mould I'd ever used and tried twice with butter then oil, before I got the spray, and it stuck both times. Thank goodness for the spray

Buttercream - you could pipe a coloured pattern using the star tip it's very easy. I'd probably use a Madeira recipe too as it's a bit more stable for larger cakes.

I've often 'painted ' with food colouring (gel based) just make sure the fondant is dry or the colours will bleed

I think I'd go for buttercream if it's a younger child which would probably be easier to stick the sweets on. However if it's for an older child etc, then the look of fondant & painting sounds really pretty. Agree sparkles should appear somewhere. Good luck.

I'd say put coloured fondant over it and pipe buttercream as an adhesive for the sweets to be put on, but anyway you decide to do it, good luck!

You could always cover it with ready to roll icing then use royal icing to stick sweets.

I've done a dinosaur shaped cake and used buttercream and fondant easily done, but did lose some of the details (but think the fondant may have been a tad too thick). I like the ganache idea and using sweets and glitter to add colour.

I would do butter cream and jam inside crumb coat and cover with regal ice and then paint or cover with sweets eg jelly tots sticking them down with either edible glue or royal icing, you can even add sparkles too, have fun creating a beautiful butterfly.

Ganache would pour easier and get in the nooks and crannies easier. Do it in white then add sweets for the detail.

I would use a white chocolate ganache. Then I would colour some gum paste,roll it out and cut it into different shapes. Look a butterfly for ideas. Then place the shapes on the wings. Make the body the same way.

You can add colour to white chocolate ganache using colour gel

If you feel you are a little artistically challenged crumb coat the sides of cake and then roll in either grated chocolate/sprinkles/sparkles and then crumb coat the top and either cover in fondant and paint or choose a simple pattern made of sweeties/treats and cover the top...give it a swoosh of lustre spray at the end, just gives it a nice finished sheen :O)

The way I make butterfly cake is with fondant and paint with edible lustre dust with different colours. When it dries it leaves a lovely glittery effect. Butter cream in her favourite colour then her favourite sweets in matching patterns on each wing then sprinkle with edible glitter to add a bit of sparkle.

I made a butterfly cake for my daughter's second birthday last year, it was a bit tiresome, the icing, decorating and all but worth it. I used whipping cream and added different colours to it. Looking back now, I should've used buttercream instead since that doesn't make the colours bleed. So in a nutshell, please use buttercream icing. I also used jelly beans and wafer sticks for the 'butterfly' effect.I made 1 last wk, used and 10" round cut in half & put back to back, also baked a sheet of cake to use for body & shape the wings, crumb coat, used buttercream, fondant covering and some decorative bits of coloured fondant & a bit of glitter, I was pleased with finished cake... Good luck

I made 1 last wk, used and 10" round cut in half & put back to back, also baked a sheet of cake to use for body & shape the wings, crumb coat, used buttercream, fondant covering and some decorative bits of coloured fondant & a bit of glitter, I was pleased with finished cake... Good luck

I recommend buttercream - easy to flavour and colour. If you want something "over the top," put your favourite buttercream on and then a thin layer of white or dark chocolate ganache over the top. Or if you want something fun, just buttercream and sparkles. You can make your own edible glitter using table sugar and food colour. I've seen lots of posts about it recently.

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I'd like to suggest that you actually use the Butterfly baking 'tin' (silicone mould) as a mould for a 50/50 fondant/sugarpaste mix. I think the silicone moulds always have some detail on them, which is often lost once you remove the cake from the former and slap on the buttercream. I'm not yet a professional but I intend to become one, and I have found that by rolling out a sheet of the fondant mix, cutting it to the approximate size and shape and then pressing it lightly, but firmly, into the inside of the silicone mould gives you the perfect impression on the fondant mix, which you can then use as the basis for a more detailed painting adventure. As someone else said; let the fondant dry thoroughly before trying to paint it or the colours will indeed bleed. Hope this helps :)
decorous cakes - 28-May-13 @ 9:56 PM
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