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Butterfly Cakes

Butterfly Cakes

These were the first cakes I ever made as a child — little cupcakes with a disc gouged out of their pointy tops, cut in two, and the two pieces of cake top set in a blob of buttercream like a pair of butterfly wings.

I wasn't much good at making them look like butterflies then, and I see I haven't improved any. The ones here are more bunny buns than butterfly cakes, but they still make me feel strangely comforted. I say "strangely," as there is nothing comforting about the state of childhood. But then, the false solace gained from lying to yourself about the past is probably a necessary evil.

But what am I talking about? Just make the cakes. They're very easy. I whip cream with food coloring rather than making buttercream, and take great comfort in their pretty pastelness.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar either in a bowl by hand or with an electric mixer.
  3. Once light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time with a little of the flour, beating as you go.
  4. Fold in the rest of the flour, the baking powder and baking soda, and the vanilla, and finally the milk.
  5. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, dividing equally.
  6. Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cupcakes are cooked and golden on top. Take the cupcakes in their paper liners out of the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
  7. Once they're cool, cut off the mounded peak (if your cakes have obliged), cutting it in half to make the butterfly wings. Dig down a little with your knife. This will also leave a small hole to put the cream to hold the wings. If your cakes haven't peaked much, you will just have to cut out a slightly wider circle after the top, digging in as you do so.
  8. Whip the cream until thick, coloring with food coloring if you wish, and dollop about 2 teaspoonfuls of cream on top of each cake.
  9. Stick on your butterfly wings, using the cream as the glue.

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