A cute dessert, especially nice for children in springtime, these butterfly cupcakes are super easy to decorate and can be filled with anything you like. Butterfly cakes are adorable and easy to decorate with no need for piping tips or decoration expertise. Kids love them, and the 'wings' are perfect for dipping into the filling!
Please note that we have included step-by-step pictures for how to assemble and decorate the cupcakes, but not how to mix and bake the cake itself. For those images and more info on the base recipe, please reference these vanilla cupcakes. These can also be made with store-bought cake mix.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Step 1: cut small rounds from the tops of each cupcake.
Step 2: fill with cream or curd, then halve the round to make the wings.
Step 3: place the halves into the cream or curd on a slight angle so that they resemble butterfly wings.
Step 4: repeat, then top the cupcakes with a sprinkle of icing sugar before serving.
- Don't store them too long: assemble immediately before serving, or no more than an hour or two beforehand, to ensure that the cakes don't become soggy from the fillings. Refrigerate if filling ahead of time.
- Mix up the fillings: if you want different colours or flavours, try a jam or ganache. Cream and lemon curd are classics but be creative!
- Use a knife: while some use a cookie scoop to take out the round on top of the cupcakes, this often compresses the crumb (it's not sharp enough) and makes for a less pleasant bite. Using a knife ensures that the cake stays nice and light and gives you more control.
Any type of cupcake base can be used for this recipe, and any filling that's sturdy enough to hold up the wings. Red velvet butterfly cupcakes? Why not!
If you're feeling particularly ambitious, you could pipe little royal icing decorations onto the wings to make these cakes even cuter. Little swirls and curlicues will make them look even more like butterfly wings.
How to Store Butterfly Cakes
Storage: we recommend making the cupcakes and fillings ahead of time and storing separately until you're ready to serve, then assembling shortly before serving. The butterfly cupcakes will keep for about a day without getting too soggy, so they can be made in the morning and served in the afternoon, but should be refrigerated in a sealed container.
Freezing: the filled cupcakes shouldn't be frozen, as the texture will be ruined when they thaw.
What's the difference between fairy cakes and butterfly cakes?
No difference! Butterfly cakes are also called fairy cakes, butterfly cupcakes, and butterfly buns.
Are fairy cakes British?
Fairy cakes or butterfly cakes are a British treat, and are usually called butterfly cupcakes in America.
Why are fairy cakes so good?
The filling in fairy cakes isn't too sweet, and it makes the cupcake extra moist without buttercream or another icing. They're also so much fun for kids to get involved in making!
If you make this Butterfly Cake recipe or any other cupcake recipes on the Baked Collective, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more baking, follow along on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.
- Bake and cool the cupcakes as instructed. Once cooled, use a sharp knife to cut out small cones from the tops of the cakes. Cut ¼ in. (½ cm) from the edge of the cupcake and about 1 in. (2.5 cm) deep.
- Fill the hole with a spoonful of cream or lemon curd, or add a bit of both.
- Cut the cone in half to create the butterfly wings. Place the halves back into the filled cupcake on a slight angle to imitate partially open wings.
- Repeat until all of the cupcakes are filled and decorated.
- Top with a dusting of icing sugar and serve immediately if possible. Any leftovers will have to be refrigerated in a sealed container.