For my mom's birthday this year I knew that I wanted to make her a cake covered in colourful butterflies. It wasn't just an excuse to use all my new edible glitter and shimmer powders, my mom loves butterflies and bright cheerful colours. If she were to spontaneously turn into a cake somehow this is how I imagine she would look.
Wellington was fascinated by the butterfly making process. He monitored the process very very carefully during both evenings that I worked on them.
To make the butterflies I first rolled out gumpaste and cut a few butterflies at a time out with a cookie cutter. Next I painted in the coloured parts with gel food colouring that I diluted with a bit of vodka then added some shimmer or edible glitter. The last step was to outline the edges of the butterflies with black food colouring.
The first few butterflies I painted I didn't add black edges. I wasn't very happy with how they looked but I couldn't quite figure out what wanted to change. After I tried a black outline with one butterfly I immediately went back and outlined the rest. It makes a big difference to how finished they look.
To dry them with their wings up I folded up some tin foil and placed them in the crease and then let them dry overnight.
When the butterflies were all dry I arranged them according to how I wanted them on the cake. One of the 30 butterflies got rejected for having an ugly shade of red but the rest were organized by spectrum.
I had found a recipe on epicurious for a lemon blueberry cake that had gotten a lot of good reviews. The few bad reviews said that their cakes had turned out like pound cakes (which are delicious) so I figured even if the recipe was a flop the worst that I would end up with was lemon blueberry pound cake.
I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly (not like a pound cake, much fluffier) . I have two light pans and one dark one and the dark pan didn't rise as much as the light pan cakes did. If I had made all three layers in dark pans then perhaps it would have had a denser pound cake texture. The cake on the left was baked in the dark pan and you can sort of see that its darker and denser than the two on the right
For the frosting I made a very basic lemon butter cream. I whipped three cups of soft butter until it was very fluffy, then added lemon zest, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon juice. Next I slowly added powdered sugar by the half cup. After a few additions of sugar I turned the kitchen aid on high to fluff the icing back up before adding more.
I sweeten my icings to taste instead of just adding all the required sugar. From two pounds of icing sugar I probably had a cup and a half left over.
This cake was frosted and decorated faster than I have ever frosted or decorated any cake before. My dad was throwing a surprise party and called to inform me that the only way to get the cake over to the restaurant and also make sure that everyone who was flying or driving in for the event would make it on time was to be ready in 40 minutes.
So in 40 minutes I showered, got myself ready, packed and then frosted, decorated, and photographed the cake ...
The cake and all the guests made it there in time to surprise my mom. She was very happy/tearful about the butterfly cake and we all had a good time drinking, talking, and cruelly eating the wings off of the butterflies.
The cake was very moist and the mild lemon flavor brightened up the blueberries. The lemon buttercream was sweet and zingy but next time I make it (it was definitely good enough to make again) I'll put lemon curd between the layers for a sharper lemon flavor.
My brother took the picture of the slice of cake for me with his new fancy camera. My camera was pretending that it was too dark in the room to take pictures. It was probably punishing me for always carelessly slathering it with icing or setting it down in cake batter.
Lemon Blueberry Cake
- 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups fresh blueberries (about three 4.4-ounce packages)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper; butter paper. Dust pans with flour.
2. Sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to large bowl. Add fresh blueberries and toss to coat. Set remaining flour mixture and blueberries aside. (My blueberries still sank despite coating them with flour. However the layers still looked pretty and the taste was not affected so I wouldn't stressed about sinking blueberries)
3. Stir whole milk, vanilla extract, and grated lemon peel in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl until light and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture in 3 additions each, just until blended. Fold in blueberries. Divide batter equally among pans.
4. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. In my light coloured pans my cakes rose much higher and took about 4 minutes longer to bake. In my dark pan the cake was denser and baked in about 23 minutes
5. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Run knife around pan sides to loosen. Turn cakes out onto racks to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper.