Sweet vanilla cream and dulce de leche butterfly cakes

Yesterday, I dangled the promise of a delicious recipe in front of you, and I’m not about to go back on my word! Whilst I’m not claiming that my idea to swap buttercream with real cream on a butterfly cake is really revolutionary, I have to say it makes a huge difference to these cakes. Okay, they won’t keep as long and they’re not as immune to standing around for hours (days?) not being eaten, as with traditional butterfly cakes (like the one below), but to me, they are a million times nicer, and a special treat of epic proportions. Just right, in other words, for serving at your royal wedding watching party!

Old fashioned butterfly cake

This is hardly a ground breaking recipe, but I personally had a hard time trying to sort through the many recipes for butterfly cakes I found online for a good one. There were some interesting variations but not a lot of simple, good old fashioned recipes. So, rest assured that if you want to make plain, no-nonsense butterfly cakes, the sponge recipe below, from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, will do you right. Then, you only have to follow the directions for the dulce de leche buttercream and omit the dulce de leche, and you’ll have butterfly cakes the old fashioned way in no time.

But life is short, why not try yours with sweet vanilla cream?!

Butterfly cake

INGREDIENTS

For plain sponge cakes:

  • 125g softened butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 2-3 tbsp milk
  • Icing sugar, for dusting

For the sweet cream and dulce de leche topping:

  • Small tub of double cream
  • 1 tbsp (or to taste) vanilla caster sugar
  • Tin of Nestle Carnation dulce de leche

For alternative dulce de leche buttercream

  • 125g butter
  • 125g icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp dulce de leche

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 200c or gas mark 6.
  • Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  • Mix the eggs in one by one, adding a large spoonful of flour in between each addition.
  • When mixed, add the rest of the flour, then mix to a smooth dropping consistency using the milk.
  • (Alternatively, if you’re one of these super duper posh types what has a fangled machine, simply add all the ingredients except the milk to a processor or food mixer until blended, then add the milk until it reaches the correct consistency. I’m not bitter or jealous at all, honest.)
  • Line a 12-bun cake tin with cake cases, and pour in the mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden on top.
  • Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  • While the cakes are cooling, you can make your sweet vanilla cream! Simply add vanilla sugar (or sugar and a hint of vanilla extract) to your double cream, and whisk until it forms soft peaks. You need it to hold its shape when you spoon it onto your cakes, but be careful you don’t overwhisk – I am the worst at over-enthusiastically churning my cream into a grainy mess, so I can talk…
  • Once you’ve created your sweet cream, you only have to wait for the cakes to cool before assembling.
  • To make a butterfly cake, simply cut a round circle in your cake, tipping the knife inwards so you form a circular well inside as you do so. Fill to the top with your dulce de leche. Then, finish with a swirl of sweet cream – you can make a jaunty tip simply by using the end of your spoon and lifting off in the middle. Then, cut the piece of cake you excised in half and turn those pieces into the wings of a butterfly, and finish with a dusting of icing sugar.

Here’s what those beauties will look like inside:

Inside butterfly cake

An additional thought – if you reckon dulce de leche is too forrun for a patriotic national celebration such as the wedding of Kate and William, why not turn it into a tribute to a classic Victoria sponge by adding a spoonful of jam to the middle instead of caramel?

My tip for these is that the cream should be still chilled when the guests eat (why? Because it’s DELICIOUS that way, try it!), and that they really should be assembled last minute, just because the cream will wilt and spoil if you leave them sitting around for too long.

But, if you want to make your classic butterfly cakes with buttercream, simply cream your sieved icing sugar and very soft butter together until the mix is creamy and white, then add in dulce de leche until you have a still-stiff yet caramelly topping. Finish as above to make your butterfly wings.

Just one thing though…

Old fashioned butterfly cake

Don’t forget your icing sugar!

Old fashioned butterfly cake top

It is absolutely vital for optimum uh, prettiness…

Also, patriotic napkins are optional. (I got mine from Tesco’s.)

Butterfly cake on Union Jack napkin

Advertisements

A right royal treat: butterfly cakes!

In case you haven’t noticed, around here I’m still gearing up for an epic Royal Wedding Watching Party, which will have an afternoon tea theme. I’m trying to assemble a crack team of really British-themed dishes to go with it, and when it comes to afternoon tea and delicious sweet treats, you can’t get much more nostaglia from your calories than with a butterfly cake.

Butterfly cake on Union Jack napkin

Butterfly cakes have been sadly neglected in recent years for their more ostentatious American cousin, the cupcake. Alas, I am guilty of this as well – you only have to check out the cupcakes section of this blog to see some towering, buttercream topped monstrosities. But here’s the funny thing about me and cupcakes – I love to make them, but I’m not so crazy about eating them. Here’s a frightening confession. I don’t actually really like buttercream all that much.

You forgive me, right? I hope so. But, after all that, some of you are probably thinking – ‘hey, you idiot, fairy cakes are filled with buttercream! That’s the point!’ To you, I say ‘ah hah, I already thought of that.’ So, stay tuned for something that’s going to curl your hair – my recipe for sweet vanilla cream and dulce de leche butterfly cakes, fit for serving at your very own royal wedding watching party!

Halloween fondant pumpkin tutorial

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to have a go at making some cute little pumpkins to go on top of Halloween cupcakes.

Fondant pumpkins

These are easy to make and don’t require any equipment beyond fondant, orange dye and toothpicks. (And green and brown dye if you want to make stalks, leaves and vines.)

Equipment

If you have orange fondant, well, you’re one step ahead… Hurrah! If you want them to be hard, you should make them a couple of weeks before when you need them, so you can sit them in a cool, dark place to set.

Fondant pumpkins, step one

First of all, roll your fondant into a small ball, then squash it down so it makes an oval. This will give it a much more interesting shape than a plain old sphere.

Fondant pumpkins, step two

Now it’s time to use your specialist equipment. First of all, pierce the centre to mark it. Then, rolling the toothpick, create a dimple in the centre of your ball.

Fondant pumpkins, step three

There you go – now you’ll have what looks like an orange doughnut gone wrong.

Fondant pumpkins, step four

Now, use your toothpick to create lines from the centre down the edge of your pumpkin, using a rocking motion. I do this by doing the four compass points, then filling in the spaces in between.

Fondant pumpkins, step five

Like so! With the heat of your fingers, your pumpkin might get a little floppy. You can fix this by placing it in the fridge at any point if it starts getting hard to handle. Don’t be a pushover for a vegetable made of sugar.

Fondant pumpkins, step six

That’s pretty much it! You can add a stalk (I’ve seen people use cloves for this, but obviously they’re not really edible like that) or even make a curly vine from green fondant curled around a matchstick.

Too cute to eat? Never!

Fondant flower tea party!

For my birthday, I decided I wanted a tea party, complete with cute little cup cakes and triangular sandwiches. Originally I was going to buy the sandwiches, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend £20 on a plate of them when I could make them myself for half the price. So R and I made batches of cream cheese and smoked salmon, rare roast beef with horseradish mayo, Belgian ham salad with dijonnaise and cheddar cheese with red onion chutney. Delicious!

But of course, I had to do something with all my cake decorating goodies!

Red and pink flowers

So R and I dyed some fondant with the Wilton paste colours I bought at Hobbycraft, and rolled it out. Then, we used the set of four blossom plunger cutters from PME to cut out these cute flowers.

Patchwork flower

I also tried out making a patchwork effect on some of the flowers using a spice brown food colouring pen. What do you reckon?

Pink patchwork

It worked well using that colour on the pink icing, because it turned a slightly darker pink. I’d like to play around with this idea more on other projects.

One of the things I really wanted to try from Peggy Porschen’s Cake Chic was her anemone flower – if you have the book, you might have seen it on the back on the cover. Everything I needed except the veining tool turned up from Jane Asher, but the anemone cutters were much smaller than I had thought they’d be. But as you can see, the flower still turned out pretty well!

Anemone

I decided to use ivory lustre powder instead of a pink blossom tint on this, and I think it came out quite well! The only thing is, the petals were very delicate and the whole thing got stuck in my palette when I tried to remove it. Totally tragic! But, I like the effect so much I might try doing the same thing with red petals to make poppies. The only things you can’t eat about this flower are the stamens, which are made of wire.

Flower palette

Here are the flowers sitting in the palette, drying off and getting a bit of shape to them. This is just a cheap plastic artist’s palette from eBay, which only cost a couple of pounds including postage, bonus! The perfect shape for little flowers. Don’t they look sweet? I’d leave them here if I didn’t have a load of cakes to decorate!

Side cakes

And here they are! Peggy Porschen’s cupcake and buttercream recipes. Her cake recipe calls for four eggs for 24 cupcakes, which seems like a lot, but works perfectly. Once you’ve baked them, she asks you to soak them in sugar syrup as well, which seems excessive, but does make a nice moist cake. The buttercream is nice, but I think I’m a bit over how sugary it is. It’s a bit toooo sweet.

Patchwork blue cake

Here’s one of my patchwork flowers on the top of a cupcake.

Baby pink flower cake

It’s so easy to decorate cupcakes with these – the plungers are really easy to use, and although I curved the petals with a boning tool and set them in a palette, you could skip these steps and they’d still sound great (get me, I sound like I know what I’m talking about!).

Baby blue flowers

I’m still not confident about piping on the buttercream – it never looks as good as other people’s, but luckily I think I’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice!

Flower cakes

Here they all are – pretty as a picture! But, please don’t look at my poor little anemone… It broke when I tried to take it out of the palette, and also when I tried to put it on the cupcake. Darn it!

Well, I had a lovely birthday thanks to my family and friends, and a great time trying out sugarcraft properly for the first time… I just wish I knew what to do with rose petal cutters!

Think Pink!

It’s October, which means it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That doesn’t just mean raising money for breast cancer – that also means learning about it and spreading the word to others. But fundraising is also a pretty important part. For two weeks we’ll be pink at Distracted Gourmet – but then we’re turning all spooky for Halloween near the end.

Think Pink cupcakes

One good way you can help Breast Cancer Awareness Month reach even more people is to ram it down their throats. Literally! The slogan for this campaign is Think Pink, and if there’s one thing that goes nicely with baked goods, it’s pink.

Hey cupcake!: Think Pink cupcakes

Take some pink cupcakes into work and share them with your colleagues. If you want to raise money, why not charge a small amount for each cake and give it directly to charity?

White cupcakes: Think Pink

These are love buns, which are made with a recipe by Nigella Lawson, originally intended to celebrate Valentine’s Day. But I think you can make them to celebrate your boobs. Or, if you don’t have any boobs, celebrate someone else’s!

These cupcakes are a basic white cake mix with a meringue-type topping that is kind of marshmallowy. Very unusual! I coloured the topping with Wilton’s pink colouring gel, so as not to lose the thick consistency.

Lonesome cupcake: Think Pink

I bought my pink sugary sprinkles and pastel pink and blue cupcake cases from Asda – so cheap compared to some of the prices I’ve seen. The cupcake flag is from Momiji.

If you want to join in Breast Cancer Awareness Month and turn your blog pink for October, go to Pink For October for information and resources. There’s also information on there for turning your Twitter background pink, as well as a Facebook group, and a place to register your site. You can also turn your Flickr pictures into Breast Cancer Awareness posters at Bighugelabs, where you can also find more resources for your blog, including ribbon logos.

For baking-related Breast Cancer Awareness stuff, you can visit The Cakes, Cookies & Crafts Shop (UK) and find Awareness Ribbon cookie cutters, cake cases, oven gloves and more.

The Shocking and Horrible Story of Lisa’s Cupcakes

My good friend Lisa, who lives an hour and a half away from me, and whom I don’t get to see very often, had her birthday a couple of weeks ago, so R and I had the fantastic idea of baking her a load of cupcakes and taking them with us when we went to visit.

Lisa's cake

So, we got to work. The plan was R would bake the cakes during the day, I would prepare the buttercream and organise cutters, and then we’d decorate them in the afternoon before we drove up.

Cakes vs Books

I made a new recipe for cream cheese frosting, which included delicious shards of caramel, making a great crunchy texture and smooth sweetness to contrast with the cream cheese.

Rachel's scary Care Bear

Rachel even made the world’s creepiest and disturbing Care Bear, which to me looks like one of those poignant social services adverts about broken childhoods.

Side on view

We dyed fondant all kinds of beautiful bright colours, cheerfully telling each other how much Lisa would love to see her gorgeous little cakes, and how much we’d appreciate it if someone made us some kick ass cakes for our birthdays.

Mixed cupcakes

Then, when we were halfway through, I remembered something somewhat vital.

Lisa's cupcakes

Something that, had we remembered before we started, would have been most useful indeed.

Sakura blossom cake

The last time we met her, Lisa told us she cannot eat flour.

Flowery cupcakes

She’s on a gluten-free diet.

Starry cupcakes

Oh pants.

Flowey cupcake

Sorry Lisa.

We hope you enjoyed looking at the cakes, anyway… Ah, fudge.

Please note, no Lisas were harmed during the making of these cakes, and also note that I did buy her a present she could use, unlike R, who bought her chocolate which now Lisa also cannot eat. We love you Lisa, please forgive us!

A Halloween cupcake preview…

Over the weekend, I’ve acquired some food colouring paste, numerous sprinkles and cupcake cases, and an obscene amount of butter, sugar and eggs. I’ve also learnt how to mould fondant into mini pumpkins (and, more importantly, found out what fondant is and where to buy it from). All of this is for a good cause…

Halloween cupcakes

More cupcakey Halloweeny goodness when it’s actually October… I just couldn’t resist posting these babies now!

Getting ready for Halloween…

Did I mention that I love, love, love Halloween? Well, I do. I really, really do. The dark nights, the ghost stories, the crazy outfits, the pumpkins. The fact that Christmas is coming and the air is getting cool enough to wear scarves and hats and massive coats – my favourites! The fact that Bonfire Night is coming too, and with it firework displays and standing with a cricked neck for half an hour in the dark and the cold. I love Halloween – it’s like a portal to the winter months.

Getting ready for Halloween...

Here’s my latest Halloween purchase – last year it was all about buying my aristocratic vampire outfit… this year, it is all about CAKES. Halloween cakes! This year, I cannot celebrate Halloween without cupcakes. I’ve bought a piping bag and everything… Stay tuned.