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History Cookbook: Butterfly cakes

This recipe is in categories Postwar / Modern, Baking, Party food, Picnic
About this recipe
Healthiness : (246 votes)
Comments: These are tremendous fun to make but:
the cakes are cooked in a hot oven - you will need the help of an adult.
You will also need the help of an adult to cut the tops off the cooked cakes.
Preparation Time: 25 - 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 - 25 minutes
Number of servings: 12 - 15 cakes
Serving suggestions: With a nice cup of tea or traditional lemonade.
This is a vegetarian recipe

Cakes have long been popular in the British Isles - they get a mention in Chaucer, but in those days they were sweetened with honey.

The availability of cheap sugar from 17th Century onwards (see The Abolition Project) meant that the baking of sweet cakes became easier. Raising agents, first used in the 19th century, such as bicarbonate of soda and baking powder took over from yeast and made the cakes lighter.

They became popular to have with 'tea'.

After the 2nd World War, when sugar was taken off rationing, children were able to enjoy cakes again.

A Victoria sponge recipe can also be used to make small cakes such as fairy cakes and butterfly cakes. Children in the 60s and 70s often made these at school and proudly took them home to share with the family.

This recipe can be made in 2 parts as the cakes must be completely cool before the tops are cut off them.

If you have a food mixer, you can get nearly as good results by putting all the cake ingredients in at once and beating hard.

The cakes:

  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 2 eggs - at room temperature

The Butter Cream Frosting:

  • 50g soft butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • colouring (optional)
  • Weighing scales
  • Tablespoon
  • Mixing bowls
  • Wooden spoon
  • Sieve
  • Teaspoon
  • Wire rack
  • Bun tins
  • Knife
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Grease well 12 - 15 bun (patty) tins or prepare the same number of small cake cases
  2. Turn on the oven to 185C / 375F / Gas no 5
  3. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy
  4. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl
  5. Gradually beat the egg mixture into the butter and sugar, adding a little sifted flour if it starts to curdle
  6. Gently fold in the sifted flour
  7. Drop a large teaspoon of mixture into each of the bun tins (or cake cases)
  8. Bake for 20 - 25 mins (until golden and well risen)
  9. Take from the oven and cool on wire rack
  10. Whilst they are cooling, make the frosting by gradually beating the sifted icing sugar into the soft butter, adding a little milk as it becomes too difficult
  11. Split the frosting up to add a few drops of colouring if wanted
  12. When the cakes are completely cool, carefully slice the risen top off
  13. Cut each top in half to make the wings
  14. Put a portion of the butter frosting on each (you can pipe it if wished)
  15. Place the 2 wings on each cake, pressing the thicker ends into the frosting
  16. Sprinkle with a little sieved icing sugar
Butterfly cakes - print view  Butterfly cakes - print view

If you tried this recipe and liked it, tell us about it
There are 54 comments for this recipe.
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Name: Amber 14th January 2013
Holy sweet mother of tasty! This is polabbry the best non-chocolate cake I've ever tasted! Really, really strong but very sumptuous natural flavours. In summary: OM NOM NOM NOM NOM!!! The band certainly enjoyed it! It's been in their vicinity for about 2 hours and it's half gone!
Name: Angie 22nd November 2012
Made these, very nommy, added a drop of vanilla in my buns too, very nice but have way too much buttercream left to just throw away.
Name: Shannon:-) 18th June 2012
I making these cakes in school and hope they go well the only time I made a cake was when me and my mum cooked a biggen and made a clown face with icing pen so met called that then turned round a sec and the next minute the dogs trying it out. it must of been yummy cause she eat the whole thing lol hah:-)
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