Culinary Capers: Canada Day Butterfly Cupcakes

For Canada day we’ll be decorating and eating Butterfly Cakes with freshly whipped whipping cream.  The recipe we’re using is based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her Nigella Express* cookbook with a few changes that include olive oil instead of butter, adding in milk and orange rind and reducing the amount of vanilla extract.


125 g butter at room temperature (OR 120 g butter and 1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil)

125 g sugar

2 eggs

125 g all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Rind of one orange (preferably organic)

3 tablespoons milk (2 percent or homogenized)

250 ml whipping cream

Icing sugar to add to whipping cream (optional)

Food colour to add to whipping cream (optional)


* Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

* Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.

* Chill your beaters and a bowl after you have creamed the butter and sugar.

Note: Weighing ingredients is a precise approach to baking. Once you’ve tried it you won’t want to go back to measuring out ingredients any other way.

* Cream the butter (or butter and olive oil) and sugar in a food processor, by hand or with a mixer.

* Once the batter is fluffy add one egg, mix and then the other egg.  Add in a little flour as you mix the eggs.

* Fold in the remaining flour, baking soda, baking power, vanilla extract and orange rind.

*Fold in the milk.

* Spoon two tablespoons of the batter into each cupcake liner.

* Place your muffin tin in the center of the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.

* Set your timer and avoid the temptation to open the oven door until the timer beeps.

* Check the cupcakes at the 15 minute mark by piercing one with a toothpick.  If it comes out with batter on it, set the timer for two more minutes.  Continue until the toothpick comes out clean and the cupcakes are a golden brown.

* Remove the cupcakes from the tin and place them on a wire rack to cool completely.


* Beat the whipping cream using chilled beaters and a chilled bowl.  When the whipping cream forms peaks add in icing sugar for taste and or food colouring, if you wish. Do not over whip your whipped cream or you will lose your peaks.

* Using a sharp paring knife cut a circle in the top of the cupcake, leaving a border.  Retrace the cut at a 45 degree angle and then use a teaspoon to scoop a crater out of the top.  Cut the removed part into half to create two butterfly wings.

* Spoon a small amount of cream into each crater and wedge two of the wings on top, with the cut edge on the outside.

* You could also sift some icing sugar on top of each cupcake and use cut licorice to make antennae.

If you would like to take your dessert to the next level using chocolate and coconut, you can make angel/butterfly cakes based on the Australian lemington recipe.

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We use Emile Henry muffin tins made out of ceramic. They are gorgeous and apparently the ceramic allows for event baking that produces superior results.

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