These fairy cakes – also called butterfly cakes or butterfly buns – are cupcakes decked out to look like butterflies with a pile of sweet whipped cream and a dollop of jam. Butterfly cakes are fun and easy dressed up vanilla cupcakes!
What Are Fairy Cakes?
What a fairy cake is completely depends on who you talk to.
- Some say that fairy cakes are smaller cupcakes because they are small like faeries. They’re not quite minis, but not as large as regular American cupcakes.
- Some say that fairy cakes are cupcakes with icing rather than piled with buttercream. In that case, my caramel cupcakes would qualify, and the difference between fairy cakes and cupcakes would be similar to how some view the difference between cupcakes and muffins.
- Others say that cupcakes and fairy cakes are the same thing.
- In England, fairy cakes may be thought of as cupcakes with wings, also called butterfly cakes.
In this post, I’m going to focus on the butterfly cakes! While it’s a classic cake design in England, it’s rarely made in the United States.
How to Make Butterfly Cakes
To make butterfly cakes, start with your favorite vanilla cupcakes. (If you’ve never made cupcakes before, you might find my guide to making cupcakes helpful.)
Carefully cut off the tops of the cupcakes.
Pipe sweetened whipped cream (Chantilly cream) on the centers of the now flat cupcake tops.
Cut the circles that you removed from the tops of the cupcakes in half. Place each half upright into the whipped cream on top of each cupcake so they look like wings.
Pipe or dollop a small circle of jam into the center of each pair of wings. You can use any kind of jam that you like; strawberry jam works really nicely.
Dust every cupcake with powdered sugar.
Fairy Cakes Variations
Instead of simply putting the jam between the wings, you can turn this into a filled cupcake first. Use a knife to core a hole in the cupcake after removing the top and fill the hole with the jam, and then decorate as you would a normal butterfly cake! The jam inside will be a fun surprise!
Fairy Cakes (Butterfly Cakes)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup canola oil you can also use vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract use pure, not imitation
- 2/3 cup whole milk room temperature
- 2 cups Chantilly cream chilled (or any whipped cream)
- 1/4 cup jam choose any flavor your like
- confectioners' sugar to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, mix together sugar, cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the vanilla bean sugar and mix until well combined.
- Add butter and mix on medium-low speed for three minutes. Because there is so little butter, you'll end up with a very fine crumb texture.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla extract until smooth.
- Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined.
- Slowly add milk and mix on low speed until just combined. The batter will be liquid. (Don't worry, you didn't do anything wrong. It's supposed to be that way.)
- Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
- Bake for 14 minutes and then test to see if they are done. They are done when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. The cupcakes should appear white with specks of vanilla bean. They should not turn a golden brown. If they are not done, test again in two minutes. If they are still not done, test again in another two minutes.
- When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack (or just on your counter if you don't own a cooling rack) to cool.
- Carefully slice the tops off of the cooled cupcakes so they have a flat top and you've removed a thin disc of cake.
- Pipe sweetened Chantilly cream onto the centers of the now flat cupcake tops.
- Cut the thin cake discs in half and place each half upright into the whipped cream on each cupcake so they look like wings.
- Pipe or dollop a small circle of jam into the center of each pair of wings.
- Dust with confectioners' sugar.