Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Butterfly In The Sky...

Last week saw me making a marbleized cake as the inside needed to be just as pretty as the outside.  But why did that matter?  Well, some friends of mine were throwing a small baby shower and I offered to make the cake and in anticipation of the little girl to come I wanted something elegant, girly, and fun.  Plus I'd been seeing a number of ideas for how to shape a butterfly cake on Pinterest and was dying to try one out. :)  Ultimately I settled on using this tutorial from Handimania to get the shape just right but as I'm not exactly a girly girl myself and would have made the cake all blues, greens, and black I still needed some inspiration for the coloring/decorating which is where this picture came in handy.  Let's get to it, shall we?
The most important part is of course selecting the right icing. :)  I used Joy the Baker's Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting from her cookbook and let me tell you, I may never try another buttercream recipe again this one is just that good!  If you have issues with icing and getting it the right consistency, which, oh man, is just my least favorite part of this whole cake decorating thing, then the cost of the book is most definitely worth it to have this recipe, so easy, so tasty, so wonderful to work with!

First up is to make the icing and separate it out based on how many different colors you want.  I chose to do a light purple, pink, blue, and chocolate to form the body.  (For the chocolate I simply mixed cocoa powder in a tablespoon at a time watching that the consistency didn't change too much and of course tasting it from time to time.)
Ahh, the marbleized cake in all it's glory ready to be shaped and formed.  That middle layer of icing there, yeah, it's light purple not piink.  I promise it showed up that way in person!
What I apparently forgot to take pictures of was the process of actually cutting the cake into a butterfly shape.  Really the tutorial is very good at explaining exactly what you need to do.  I found it easiest to cut the shape once I had my two rounds iced and stacked as in the picture above so as to be sure each piece was exactly the same shape.  Toothpicks, as always, came in handy to aid as guidelines for my knife and be able to see how it's coming together and what the angles were looking like before that fateful first cut was made.  When following any tutorial that involves cutting a cake be sure to double and triple check every aspect before cutting! 

Once the cake was cut and I began arranging the pieces I found that it was too big for my cake carrier so I hobbled something together, would you like a look?  Regardless, I'll be showing it to you. :)

This is actually a door to a cabinet we have and the glass broke a while ago, a picture frame could also work.  I cut a piece of sturdy cardboard to fit within and covered it in green wrapping paper while being super proud of myself for thinking that the green worked as a perfect grassy backdrop for a butterfly.
This would be the back with massive amounts of masking tape to be sure that the whole bottom was supported and the cake wouldn't fall through during transportation.  If I hadn't cared about maintaining the wood frame I would have used duct tape instead.
Now back to the cake!

Hey look!  We have a rough butterfly shaped cake!
I placed aluminum foil around the edge to keep the base as clean as possible.  More detailed directions and explanations can be found in the Spider-Man cake post.
As per multiple tutorials online suggest I iced the sides before icing the top.  I had issues with the sharp corners where the cake had a tendency to fall while icing but I think it fell far less then it would have if I'd iced the top first thus adding weight before the sides which aids in stability.
Another angle of the iced sides.
That's not too bad if I say so myself!  I took the aluminum foil off at this point as the rest of my decorating would be focused on the top and an edge border which I didn't want messed up if I removed the foil later in the process.  And yes, that is still all light purple icing, I swear!
Ok, so apparently I really sucked at taking step by step pictures here and I apologize for that.  To make the pink bits inside the wings I took a piping bag with a thin tip and outlined the general shape.  In hind sight a toothpick dragged lightly across would have significantly aided in creating symmetrical wings.  I then went back and filled in the outlines primarily by dropping larger dollops of the pink icing within my outline and then using a butter knife to fill the shape in.  The blue dots are simply a star shaped tip placed closely together.  I learned my lesson by the time I got here and drew a small outline with a toothpick so that each wing was approximately the same.
The border is actually using a leaf tip to make a wavy pattern and yes, it's incredibly difficult to get between each wing so good luck to you if you attempt it, I really have no tips to offer other than going slow and being careful.
I formed the body by piping the chocolate icing onto a piece of wax paper and putting it in the freezer overnight to harden.  Just using melted chocolate may have been a better idea as this one started to soften pretty quickly once it was assembled but it still looked good at the beginning when it counted. :)
And there you have it!
I'm really pleased with how this turned out.  As always, each cake presents it's own challenges and things to learn along the way but that's one of the reasons I enjoy it.

Tips & Tricks:
  • I ALWAYS use this trick when icing anything that requires multiple colors as it makes changing tips and colors super easy even if you only have one or two pastry bags.  
  • As mentioned before, double and triple check any line before you cut into your cake.
  • Toothpicks are your friends!  I would stick them into the cake to mark where I needed to cut so that I was able to eyeball each wing beforehand and make adjustments before cutting.  They also come in super handy when you want to ice certain shapes on top of other icing and you're perhaps really bad at free handing that type of thing.  Lightly drag a toothpick in the desired shape and voila you have an outline to work with or that can easily be erased if you don't like it. :)
  • Think through what you're going to put your cake on before you cut it!  I was sure it would fit onto my cake stand or carrier and was suddenly left having to pull something together at the last minute.  
  • When you pull the aluminum foil out from under your cake don't worry if you still get bits of icing here and there as a slightly damp paper towel can remove just about any transgression you may have made. :)
Thanks for reading and happy Thanksgiving!

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