How to make a butterfly cake


Here's a beautiful birthday cake to make for a butterfly themed party. It's quick and easy, once you learn just a few tricks, from professional baker Liv Hansen for the Betty Crocker Kitchens.

How to make a butterfly cake Cut out the butterfly wings
  • Start with a 9’ round cake and using a serrated knife cut off the dome. Flip it over. (It’s best to chill your cakes in the freezer for about 30 to 45 minutes before cutting them to reduce the number of crumbs.)
  • Cut it in half right down the middle, keeping the two halves together so that it still looks like a round cake.
  • To make the wings cut/form a peace sign from the two halves, using toothpicks to guide your lines.
  • Remove the toothpicks, flip over the pieces and rotate them to make wings. Basically the edges of the cake will now be facing inwards and be spread apart slightly to make four distinct areas.
  • For a bigger butterfly cake you can modify the recipe by adding a second layer of cake on top of the base. If you decide to put a second layer on the cake it’s a good idea to do the crumb coat (see below) before you cut it out.

Crumb coat the butterfly cake
  • The crumb coat is a thin coat of frosting that you spread over the entire cake that seals in your crumbs. This will prevent crumbs from showing through the frosting of your butterfly cake.
  • Set your crumb coating by placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes after you have frosted it.

Frosting the butterfly cake
  • Using an offset spatula (or a table knife or back of a spoon) place big dollops of frosting on the four pieces. You’ll want a nice thick coat of frosting on the cake about ¼ inch thick. Work with the frosting to smooth it out, making sure everything is covered.
  • Dip your spatula into a bowl of hot water between applications to keep it nice and clean for spreading the frosting.
  • To get clean lines scrape off excess frosting after it’s totally covered.
  • Be generous with your frosting so that you don’t actually hit the cake while you are frosting it.

Decorating the butterfly wings
  • Choose three colors of frosting, either pre-made in tubes at the store or make your own using food coloring. If you make your own you’ll want to fill your frosting color into pastry cones so you can more easily work with it.
  • Take one color and make a dollop on the wing close to the outside edge. Be somewhat generous with the frosting because you’ll need it to be big enough to spread. Then take your spatula and spread the dollop inward toward the center of the butterfly cake.
  • Once you’ve completed the first color, clean your spatula using the hot water, place a different colored dollop of frosting next to the first and again use your spatula to pull the frosting toward the inside of the cake. Repeat with the third color. Then repeat these steps on each of the remaining wedges of cake.

Final touches
  • You can always go back and accent your frosting by piping extra frosting on top of the colored frosting.
  • For best results hold the pastry bag toward the top and use your other hand to guide it. If you are right handed hold the bag in your right hand and if you are left handed hold it in your left hand. Don’t squeeze it in the middle because the icing can come out of the back and you have less control.
  • Add candies such as candy-coated almonds to the wings. Place them on top of the colored frosting in the outside corners.
  • Then for the body you can place a long, colorful candy stick directly in the middle of the cake.
  • Lastly, if you want your butterfly cakes to really shimmer you can sprinkle them with sanding sugar, which is a coarse sugar. Sprinkle it on top to give it a little sparkle.
Betty Crocker's butterfly cake recipe serves 12.

For more about this cake, visit




Transcript <!--StartFragment-->

LAURIE: Welcome to a butterfly birthday party. A sure winner for a girl’s special day. Hi, I’m Laurie Gelman, and this is Liv Hansen for the Betty Crocker Kitchens.

LIV: Hi, Laurie.

LAURIE: Hi. Liv is going to show us how to transform a plain cake into a gorgeous butterfly cake. I can’t wait.

LIV: Okay. Well, we’re going to start with a nine inch round cake, and we’re going to cut off the dome. And you’ll see why I’m going to do that. Okay, want to take that?


LIV: And what I’m going to do, is I’m going to flip it over.


LIV: The first step is to just cut right down the middle, and then we’re sort of going to form a peace sign. We’re going to cut from about here to here. And if you need, you can use like little toothpicks to mark where you want to cut.

LAURIE: Oh, that’s a good idea.

LIV: Yeah. And then, we’re just going to us it as a guideline.

LAURIE: That’s actually a great tip.

LIV: There you go.

LAURIE: Especially if you don’t feel comfortable eyeballing it.

LIV: Exactly. So now we’re just going to flip these over, and maybe rotate them. And you’re going to have like a little butterfly’s wings.

LAURIE: Very pretty.

LIV: Okay. So now we’re going to move into the crumb coat. A crumb coat is basically just a thin layer of frosting that you spread over the entire cake, and that seals in your crumbs.

LAURIE: Looks good.

LIV: Great. So, we’re just going to start spreading it on. I like to put a nice, big dollop on top. So what I like to do is I like to get a nice, thick coat of icing on.

LAURIE: How thick?

LIV: Maybe about a quarter inch.

LAURIE: Mmhmm.

LIV: And then once I have that, then I can start smoothing out. Just want to make sure everything is covered. And each time I lift up my spatula, it’s a good idea to scrape it off. That way, you’ll get cleaner lines.

LAURIE: I notice you also have hot water there that you keep dipping your spatula in.

LIV: Mmhmm. Yep. You can dip your spatula in, just make sure you dry it off. The hot water will melt the frosting.

LAURIE: So while you’re spreading, I notice you put a lot on but then you’re scraping it off.

LIV: Exactly. It gives you a little bit more leeway so that you don’t actually hit the cake and the crumb coat while you’re frosting it. And if you want this cake to be bigger, if you want it to serve more people, you can always layer two cakes on top of each other.

LAURIE: Great idea. Would you have to cut the layers together so that the pieces are, fit exactly on top?

LIV: Yeah, what I would do, is I would actually take one cake, put a little frosting on it, spread it evenly, and then place the other cake on top, and then cut out the shape you want.

LAURIE: So it's stuck together.

LIV: Yes.

LAURIE: You do the sides first, and then you smooth out the top.

LIV: Yes. Yeah. I put icing on all over –

LAURIE: Mmhmm.

LIV: And then I do the sides. And that creates this little lip of frosting here. And then I can just slice it off, get a nice, smooth finish. So it looks like we’re about ready to do some more decorating on it. And this is the part you’re going to help me with.

LAURIE: Okay, good.

LIV: Okay. So, we move this out of the way. Now you’ll see here that we have some pastry cones.

LAURIE: Mmhmm, me too. Great.

LIV: And we’ve actually pre-tinted some frosting. I have a green, a yellow, and a pink.

LAURIE: Just basic food coloring.

LIV: Basic food coloring, yep. You can get these at the grocery store. Now, what I’m going to do, is we’re going to create the pattern on the butterfly. I’m going to squeeze some frosting, and then I’m going to take my spatula, heat it up in this hot water, and then I’m going to take it, and I’m going to just spread it towards the center. Now, I’ll help you do it. I’ll put some pink on here, and then why don’t you get your spatula and put it in the hot water.


LIV: And you can help me spread this.

LAURIE: Like this?

LIV: Yes. Just push down and spread – great. So we’re going to do a yellow also.


LIV: So you can clean off your spatula.

LAURIE: I’m ready.

LIV: A little team work here, we’ll get this done fast. Great. If you wanted it to trail down, and to make like a more of like a pointed shape, you could bring it down. And also, as the icing gets thinned out, it gets a little of transparent. So you can get like a little –

LAURIE: Oh, I see. Variegated, or shaded effect.

LIV: Great. And then, just that one. And if you want, you can always come back and just accent it a little bit. And maybe just to accent that shape.

LAURIE: Oh, I see. Okay.

LIV: Come down. Just for a little wow.

LAURIE: There’s a technique to piping, though. Isn’t there?

LIV: Yeah. Actually what you’re going to do, actually especially if you’re right-handed, you’re going to hold the bag in your right hand, and squeeze at the top. If you’re left, you hold in your left hand and squeeze at the top. And then, with your other hand, you guide. Now you don’t want to squeeze in the middle, because then, sometimes the icing can come out the back.

LAURIE: Right.

LIV: And you also have less control. Now, just for a little more added decoration, we can actually put little candies on. And maybe we’ll put little –

LAURIE: Are these coated almonds?

LIV: They are. So we can just do something like that to add a little bit more –

LAURIE: Oh, just to put the different –

LIV: Yeah.

LAURIE: Color. Oh, okay. So you put the pink on the green, or you could do whatever way you want –

LIV: Yeah.

LAURIE: But I guess –

LIV: And you can use any color palette. You don’t have to stick to this. You could use blues and purples.

LAURIE: Right.

LIV: Whatever kind of butterfly you want to make.

LAURIE: There we go.

LIV: Okay. And then we have little candy sticks for the body.

LAURIE: Oh, nice.

LIV: And the final step is, if you want it to really glisten –

LAURIE: Of course we do!

LIV: We have some sanding sugar. Sanding sugar’s basically just a course sugar, and you can just sprinkle it on top. And it’ll just give it a little sparkle.

LAURIE: You can get it at the store?

LIV: You can get these at the store, yeah. They come in colors, too, so if you wanted to add a little bit more vibrancy, you can get like a pink or a green.

LAURIE: Pretty.

LIV: Okay. And there’s your butterfly.

LAURIE: That is one gorgeous butterfly.

LIV: Thank you for helping.

LAURIE: Thank you, oh! It was my pleasure, are you kidding me? You know, you can have a lot of fun with the butterfly party theme. For favors, give out packets of butterfly-attracting flower seeds, there are even butterfly nets. Just be creative. I’m Laurie Gelman for

meet theexpert
  • Liv Hansen

    Liv Hansen Professional Baker and Author Liv Hansen is the author of three books, has appeared on the Today Show, Top 5 (Food Network), The View and Roker on the Road, and was a finalist on the Food Network Challenge: Haunted Gingerbread. more about this expert »