Thursday, February 14, 2013

Butterfly cake, gluten free

My baby C will turn 4 in 9 days, and we're having her party a week early for various reasons. Which made this week Cake Making Week!

This year, C decided she wanted a butterfly cake. A brief amount of research on Pinterest revealed to me that there are several ways of making a butterfly cake, ranging from meticulous hand carving of a sheet cake to the use of individual cupcakes to create a pointillist effect. I concluded that simplicity was king and picked the method that seemed the easiest - making two heart-shaped cakes to serve as the wings, and cupcakes to form the body.

C asked for chocolate mudcake as the base, so on Tuesday, she and I mixed and baked two fairly modestly sized heart shaped gluten free mudcakes, and commandeered 4 of a large batch of gluten free vanilla cupcakes made for the party, in preparation for our friend K's now-traditional visit to help us decorate the cake on Wednesday night.

Set up, the cake looked like this:

The next step was to douse it thoroughly in buttercream. I make my buttercream with margarine, icing sugar and hot water - I don't use milk, as I find it makes it too runny. Coated, our butterfly looked like it was all meant to be one cake - bonus!

Now comes the fun part! Using my friend K's colour gels (soooo much better for colouring fondant than liquid colouring), we made yellow, blue, pink, purple and orange fondant. C wanted a yellow-winged butterfly with a purple body, with coloured dots and stripes!

We have found that kids, even pretty young ones, can help knead the colour through the fondant and enjoy doing so, but a strong recommendation is to use disposable gloves, otherwise all kneaders end up with rainbow hands that aren't easily purged :-)

K rolled out the fondant to the appropriate thickness and width, and carefully transferred fondant to the cake. The yellow base going on started to smooth out the shape:

Next was the decorating! The three girls cut multi coloured circles and applied them at will. 7 year old E made eyes and a face for Miss Butterfly, which C loved, and we strategically applied stripes and more dots to cover any incipient cracks in the base. (Decoration covers a multitude of sins!)

Now finished, the cake is snuggled up in the fridge next to my rice milk, waiting for Saturday.

To make this cake gluten free, there are really only a few things to remember:

- Make the base cakes gluten free!
- Use a brand of white icing / fondant that is gluten free. I use the Orchard brand that you can buy in most supermarkets.
- Use pure icing sugar, not icing mixture.
- Doublecheck your colourants to make sure they are gluten free. (Most of the colour gels are).

The cake looks nice - not cake-shop nice, but hand-made nice - and even better, the kids got to be involved in every stage of the process, which means that, for C, it's much more special than a cake that we bought or that Mummy made by herself. This is Cake Team Effort, and it's become part of our birthday ritual over the last three years, one that we all look forward to.

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