Posted by: Jason Wood | July 8, 2010


One of the kids favorite teachers decided to retire this year after 30 years of being a teacher. Mrs. Ash, or Mash, every year would bring in monarch butterflies and let the kids watch the life cycle of the butterflies all the way from the eggs to the butterfly and then release the butterflies in the school yard. The kids wanted to do something special to mark the occasion and what is more special than cake?!

First thing was to work on some of the fondant decorations. A chunk of fondant and some orange coloring.

Dip the toothpick into the coloring and drag it along top the fondant making stripes.

Work the coloring into the fondant, kneading it like bread. You can coat your work surface and hands with a light coat of crisco to keep the fondant pliable.

Roll it out on a surface dusted with corn starch.

I used two different sized cookie cutters to cut out butterflies. This was the first time that I had planned a cake like this so I went a little overboard on how many butterflies I needed.

Like I said, I made a lot! Oops. To shape the butterflies I used the same technique I used in making the fans on this chocolate fan cake and wrapped some candles in foil, laid them down on the counter side by side with a little space between them and then pushed the butterflies into the gap. When they dry they look like they are in flight. I left them on the counter like this overnight.

Next thing on the agenda is the cake. I forgot to put the sugar on the counter for this picture, so don’t forget it otherwise you will end up with a pretty bland cake!

My Dad gave me this neat little scale from Lee Valley, has a tare function on it and everything, but it is little so sometimes it is hard to see the little indicator window, but I made out OK as you can see. Towers of butter and chocolate!

I had to make two cakes of different sizes (you get to see them a little later, don’t worry) but this is what you need to make one 20 cm round cake

250g unsalted butter, 150g white chocolate, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup milk, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 eggs.

Put the butter, chocolate, sugar and milk in a large saucepan over low heat and stir until the chocolate is melted, Remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool for 15 minutes.

Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl and then combine the flour, baking powder, vanilla and eggs with the chocolate mixture. Preheat the oven to 325.

Grease the pan and line with parchment paper and pour the mixture into the pan. For one 20 cm round cake the cooking time is 1 and 3/4 hours. Check halfway through and if the top crust is browning too quickly cover it with a layer of foil. Remove the foil five minutes before the end of cooking time. The crust will be hard and sugary, that is OK. Let the cake cool completely in the pan before removing. Stick in the fridge overnight (if you have time of course).

OK, so, cakes are done and cooling but no rest for the wicked, still lots to do on this cake! At our local craft store (Michael’s – I can get lost in the cake aisles there.) Supergirl went with me this time and was responsible for this find.

Edible markers! We bought a pack and Supergirl, Z-man and myself got down to the serious task of decorating all of those butterflies. We only got about 3/4 of them done (I told you earlier I made way too many, well I did!)

The cakes have been in the fridge overnight and are completely cooled so I leveled them using a large serrated knife and put a crumb coat on them, and then back in the fridge. For those that may not know, a crumb coat is a thin layer of icing that you put on before putting a final top layer of icing on. Cakes are crumbly and when you spread icing on cakes they tend to crumble and nothing looks worse than having crumbs stick through the icing on your cake, hence, a crumb coat layer. Spreading this layer of icing will fix the crumbs in place so when you spread the top layer of icing….

it looks a whole lot better. no crumbs!

Back in the fridge! Now it is time to start work on the fondant covering for the cake (I promise that the end of this cake is in sight, really. I like all the details that lead up to the final product, if you don’t well…. skip ahead I guess, but you will miss out on the fun!) Being as the cake is about butterflies in flight it is important to have a sky so some sky blue coloring on white fondant. I totally forgot to take any pictures of the process of covering the cakes. Oops! Will try and get that next time I do a cake, I promise. But here is a nice picture of the first step of coloring the fondant. Enjoy!

The butterflies need something to land on so I picked up some fondant shape cutters, again from Michael’s – flowers and leaves. Again, I forgot to take pictures of the actual process of making the flowers and leaves but it is pretty easy. For the flowers take small amounts of fondant and add a color, roll it out. The shape cutter has on the bottom a square cutter that you use to cut out the right size square to place in the shape cutter. Once you have done this, press the top part on (like squishing a sandwich) and you should be able to peel out the cut shapes. For the flowers if you make a few different colors you can combine the different colors for the different layers of flowers for a much prettier effect. These are the flowers

and these are the leaves

As I am writing this I am realizing just how many of the steps I missed taking any pictures of. What a lousy blogger I was today! Ok, so below is a picture of the cake much farther along. Bottom two layers are cake, the top layer is a styrofoam ball cut in half and covered with fondant. It is important to put supports in the bottom layer (and top layer if using actual cake, but not so much with styrofoam layers) so I used some of Z-mans K-nex pieces shoved into the bottom layer to support the top two layers. Craft stores sell special dowels especially for this, but I forgot to buy them. The K-nex pieces were the perfect size though and worked really well. Once the cake was stacked and secured, I piped buttercream icing around the base of each layer.

Supergirl is seen here painting the back of a butterfly with fondant glue to attach it to the cake. You can see some have already been done.

OK, well here is the finished product (told you we would get here eventually. Be honest, did you skip ahead?). All in all, about a week from start to finish. We hope that you enjoy your retirement Mrs. Ash and know that you will be missed. You were one of those people that were truly meant to be a teacher and the kids loved you. See you around!



  1. I love it!!
    And I’ll bet so did Mrs. Ash.

    What is a tare function on the scale?

  2. She did, she kept the top part of the cake to bring home, now trying to figure out how she can preserve it. Anyone know? Mind you, fondant keeps forever, so may not need to actually do anything.

    A tare function on a digital scale is where you put your measuring bowl on the scale and weigh it empty, hit the tare button and it zero’s the scale with the bowl on it so you can fill your bowl with the exact amount of ingredient! Cool, eh?

  3. That is totally cool! Your dad is a good gift-giver!!

  4. Yeah, he’s not bad ; )

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: