Butterfly cupcakes are a quintessential treat that was served at almost every child’s birthday party in the UK when I was growing up. Traditional British butterfly cakes are (apparently) sometimes called fairy cakes, but no matter the name, they are simply delightful.
Originally published April 9, 2014.
If you want to have an ex-pat Brit begin to wax nostalgic about food, just mention butterfly cakes or fairy cakes. However, mention them to a non-Brit and they will probably give you a tilt of their head, and look of confusion.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
As a child growing up in the UK, these were standard fare at birthday parties, and practically everyone’s mum made butterfly cakes (which is what they are called the UK); it was just a given. The butterfly cupcakes on a stand can give you an idea of how to use them as a butterfly birthday cake.
However, as you can see, they’re also perfect for wedding and baby showers! You could even put them on top of another cake to make a butterfly birthday cake itself. So many wonderful party ideas!
What about flower cupcakes to go with your butterfly cupcakes?
These cream buns are another example of a classic, yet simple, and favorite food of many Brits. Like so many other British baking creations “across the pond”, somehow they have never caught on in the US.
Cream Buns, a Scottish Favourite
Each time I’ve made these delicate, butterfly-like creations, they are met with gasps of delight. And if you think they’re just another pretty cupcake, think again. Inside is a little dollop of raspberry jam hiding below a bigger dollop of freshly whipped cream! The flavor is outstanding! (Please use good quality ingredients, or the results will be disappointing; good jam and real, fresh cream are so important.)
Please don’t think that butterfly cupcakes are difficult to make as they are truly one of the easiest cupcakes to decorate; even children can make them. You can use any flavor cake, but I think they look the nicest when using a white or vanilla cake (light colored).
(Traditional British Butterfly Cakes)
cake recipe is a Victoria Sandwich makes 3 dozen cupcakes
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
Prepare cupcake tins with paper liners.
Preheat oven to 350º F (175º C)
In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. It will begin to pale in color, too.
Add about one third of the beaten eggs, and mix well at medium speed.
Then add about a third of the sifted flour. Repeat this step. Add the rest of the eggs and mix well, then turn the mixer to low and add the final flour.
Just mix until well combined.
Fill the cupcake liners half full with the batter and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when placed in the center of a cupcake.
Remove cupcakes from the tin, place on cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
When ready to decorate, cut out the center of each cupcake, angling the knife at a 45º angle.
Then cut the loose piece in half to resemble butterfly wings (not shown in photo.)
Place a small amount of jam in the center,
Follow with a dollop of cream (or buttercream, if desired). You can also pipe the cream like I did.
Next, place the “wings” on top.
TIP: If you need to have the butterfly cupcakes out for more than half an hour (for example a bake sale), then I’d advise using buttercream so that the cream won’t spoil This also works, and still tastes very good, but the authentic way (and my favorite way) is to use cream.
Repeat with all of the cupcakes, then dust each one generously with powdered/confectioner’s sugar.
Serve immediately, especially if using fresh cream, as it can spoil quickly, especially in warm weather. Keep refrigerated if you do not serve them right away.
NOTE: I did some research and although some people in Scotland and the UK call these “fairy cakes”, the majority of us know these as butterfly cakes. Fairy cakes are flat-topped cupcakes with plain icing on top.
Another fun cupcake recipe with a hidden truffle inside! Triple chocolate cupcakes.
And what about these delicate flower cupcakes for any occasion?
Sign up for my free subscription below
and never miss another recipe.
Butterfly Cupcakes (Traditional British Butterfly Cakes)
Pretty little cupcakes filled with jam and cream and a butterfly on top. Traditional British treat at children's parties.
- 2 1/2 sticks (300g) good quality butter, unsalted and at room temperature (if you only have salted butter, omit the salt)
- 1 1/4 cups (300g) superfine or Baker’s sugar (caster sugar in the UK)
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 2 cups (300g) self-rising flour (or all purpose flour with 2 tsp baking powder), SIFTED
- a good pinch of salt
- 1 jar raspberry jam, good quality; I like Mackays or Bonne Maman (you won't use the entire jar)
- 1 cup (8 oz) heavy whipping cream, whipped
- powdered sugar for dusting
Prepare cupcake tins with paper liners.
Preheat oven to 350º F (175º C)
- In a stand mixer or using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. It will begin to pale in color, too.
- Add about one third of the beaten eggs, and mix well at medium speed.
- Then add about a third of the sifted flour. Repeat this step. Add the rest of the eggs and mix well, then turn the mixer to low and add the final flour. Just mix until well combined.
- Fill the cupcake liners half full with the batter and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when placed in the center of a cupcake.
- Remove cupcakes from the tin, place on cooling rack and allow to cool completely. When ready to decorate, cut out the center of each cupcake, angling the knife at a 45º angle.
- Then cut the loose piece in half to resemble butterfly wings. Place a small amount of jam in the center. Follow with a dollop of cream (or buttercream, if desired). You can also pipe the cream like I did. Next, place the "wings" on top.
- Repeat with all of the cupcakes, then dust each one generously with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to serve.
TIP: If you need to have the butterfly cupcakes out for more than half an hour (for example a bake sale), then I'd advise using buttercream so that the cream won't spoil This also works, and still tastes very good, but the authentic way (and my favorite way) is to use cream.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 36 Serving Size: 1 cupcake
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 62Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 16mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is only an estimate.
Almond Cupcakes with Cherry Almond Cream Cheese Frosting
Christina’s Cucina is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Can thr batter be made the night before baking or do these need to be baked right away?
I wouldn’t make them and not bake them right away, Becca. Enjoy!
My mom who was from Scotland used to make these for
us when I was a child. Haven’t seen them for many years but look forward to giving them a try. I always called them Butterfly Cupcakes- can’t really remember mom having a name for them.
Yes, they’re (or were?) a staple of children’t birthday parties in Scotland! Hope you give them a try, I’m sure the memories will come flooding back!
Where is the recipe for these that you used to have? It had buttermilk in it and they were so good. Wondering why it is different now
Hi Christine, I don’t actually remember which recipe I used for these originally, but they are now Victoria sponge cupcakes which are a classic. Have you tried this new recipe? I think you will be delighted!
I thought my Mum used milk but may be wrong. Aussie and from the country. All I know is that the rare times I make these cup cakes the mixture never makes it to the oven. Instead of waiting to lick the mixers when my Mum would make them, now that it is me doing the “ cooking” I just eat the mix by the spoonfull!
Looking for a sugar hit no doubt ;)
The mix never makes it to the oven!
My Diabetes hits the roof! I cant imagine why ;)
Yes they are yummy either way. Lovely presentation if they make it.
Oh my goodness, Diana! I can’t imagine that, too funny!
I have an older recipe if Christina’s and they have buttermilk. Wondering why recipe was changed
These Butterfly Cupcakes are absolutely adorable! The color and design are so cute and the taste is delicious. I highly recommend giving them a try.
How many portions does this make please?
Hi Joe, in the recipe card you’ll see 36 cupcakes :)
I LOVE BUTTERFLY CUPCAKES
Are these standard size cupcakes or the minis?
Standard, Debbie. Hope you like them! :)