Sunday, July 8, 2012

Surprise Inside Cake - Hidden Butterflies

UPDATE: See the improved and SO MUCH BETTER version here!!!


Look what landed inside this cake!  BUTTERFLIES!!! 
They're all over my kitchen right now but that's okay. They're happy butterflies. Not the Silence of the Lambs kind.

surprise-inside-cake-butterflies-free-tutorial-deborah-stauchThe butterflies were a bit more fragile than the stars so I wanted to be sure the points didn't break off during assembly. The thin partially baked cake layer was perfect for holding the cookies in place while the ring was stacked.

These are the same butterflies that I told you about in my previous post/tutorial for the Hidden Stars or Let Freedom Ring CakeThe method is mostly the same with the following exceptions:

The cookie shapes were baked for 4 minutes at 350F and left to cool on the baking sheets. I sandwiched some baked/raw in a couple of the rings before I decided to try trimming the cookies in like in the photo below instead.
My husband thought the shapes in the ring needed beveling, instead of smishing the raw cookies to eliminate the gaps at the outer edge. So I baked the remaining raw cookies and a beveling is what they got. By me. Funny that he was now where to be found when the actual beveling occurred.
I think I prefer this over the raw/baked sandwich method but don't tell him. He'll probably want royalties. : )


I also made one cake mix per directions on the box. I poured a small amount into the bottoms of (2) 9 inch rounds, (1) 6 inch round and (2) four inch rounds. I didn't want the batter to go to waste since it wouldn't hold long enough for me to stack the rings. The pans were only baked about 10 minutes or long enough for the batter to slightly set up.

This is the first pan I prepared. I meant to stack the butterflies upside down but completely forgot about it until the pan was almost done. No worries. It came out fine but I just had to make sure the layer was assembled correctly when it came time to stack the cake. Good as reason as any for cutting inside and taking a quick peak before the layers were frosted.

The second pan shows my DIY cake ring made from ribbed shelf liner and large paper clips. It holds the ring in shape and can stay in the pan until after the batter is poured in if you like. Just lift it up and give it a good wash and you're ready for the next project. Cheap alternative to cake rings and it stores flat in the bargain.

Both of the 9 inch pans above had the raw/sandwich method.
They're okay but the beveling method with no raw cookies is a bit neater.

See what I mean? This is the six inch pan. The "cake rings" are cookie cutters. Thought I'd show you this option just in case you already have these cutters and don't want to go buy shelf liner and make your own.

I pulled out the 2 cutters I used from my set so you can get an idea of what set I'm talking about. The labels are long gone so I have no way to know the manufacturer or source but there are lots of circle sets out there for you to choose from.

This is how I originally tried to figure out about how many cookies it would take to fill a ring. These little foam shapes are available at most craft stores and are about the same thickness as the cookies. I'm one of those people that need to see it  rather than imagine it. All sorts of bad things can happen if I just imagine.

It's important to plan a bit for this type of cake and make sure your cookies fit the pans you plan to bake them in. Placing the cutters in the pan before hand helps visualize the placement needed before you go poking them into the batter.

Another shot of planning with the other 2 butterfly cutters I used here. Note that the DIY ring is sized slightly smaller than the 9 in ring.
You'll want to leave a little batter on the outside of the cake so that your shapes don't start poking out the sides and fall apart when you go to frost the cake.

Once the rings were assembled in the pans, I mixed up another cake mix and covered the butterflies. It would have been nice to have a little more batter for the (2) 9 inch rounds so you may want to keep that in mind.
The cookies still baked up inside but you could see a tiny bit of white when they were baked at the top of the pan. A little more cushioning and even spacing in the layer would've been even better.

The layers were filled and iced with ganache from purple candy melts the same color as the batter so as not to detract from the impact.
The outside was covered with green ganache and given a brushed finish.
The butterflies are punched from wafer paper using mostly Martha Stewart punches.
My original plan was to use the butterfly background I'd made the day before with the same punches (plus a few others) and some textured paper.
It seemed a little busy in the end so I opted for a background where you might actually see the wafer paper butterflies on the cake. 
They are attached to wafer paper dandelions on cellophane noodle "stems" so they are food safe.
I love using them for all kinds of cake decorations but the clear and airy look was just about perfect for this.

The ganache made for a nice clean cut and the cookies weren't at all hard to slice through. Just be sure to only bake them for 4 minutes before assembling the ring and you're safe.

Grab your fork and dig in!

Thanks for looking!


You can find the cookie recipe here.


Cindy said...

Honestly this is one of my favorite blogs EVER!! Thanks for sharing such cool ideas! :D

Deborah Stauch said...

Thanks Mimzy! Hope you'll stay in touch. Happy Caking!

Sugar Swings said...

wow, what a great look with the butterflies! I just tried something similar with cupcakes, just plain cookie dough "balls" in the batter and haven't cut them yet. Can't wait to see what it looks like :) thanks for sharing your detailed technique!

Marian (Sweetopia) said...

I think you are simply awesome! I'm loving your blog and your creativity! So glad Io come upon you again on pinterest: Keep those cakes coming! xo

Stephanie said...

This is simply beautiful!

Deborah Stauch said...

sugarswings: I'd love to see what you made. Thanks for looking!

Marian: Thank you for such nice comments! More cakes are on the way.

Stephanie: Thank you for the kind words.


Danielle said...

Amazing! I'm about to stop everything and bake one right now! Did you use the "cake rings"(cookie cutters) to keep them straight when assembling or to hold in place when pouring the batter or both? And what method did you ultimately choose was better: raw/baked, raw and beveled, or baked for four minutes (what am I looking for in doneness?)? Thank you so much for sharing!

Deborah Stauch said...

Danielle: Can't wait to see what you do. Please send me a link to your cake.

I used the cookie cutters to both hold in place during assembly and while the batter was being poured.

And I'm so sorry that the post isn't more clear on this but I used the baked for four minutes then beveled method for the best result.

Happy Caking!

Monika said...

wonderful idea and tutorial :-)
Do you know that all your tutorial pics are copied in facebook?

For me that's not o.k.

Happa caking,

Deborah Stauch said...

Thank you Monika! It's not okay for me either but she removed them immediately once I asked. Posting of my photos IS ALLOWED but only with a link back to my blog or the source of the photo. Happy Caking!

Sharon B. speakman said...

Fabulous idea and thanks for the tutorial. Best wishes, Sharon (I Dream Of Cake By Sharon B. Speakman)

Victoria said...

Hi!!! I just discover your blog!! I love it!! Thanks for sharing your ideas!!!!! : )

Deborah Stauch said...

Sharon & Victoria: Thanks so much for stopping by!

Ruth said...

I just found your blog now and LOVE it! So many cool ideas! Thank you for sharing the 'how to' also!

Sallyp said...

Seriously! Your a baking genius! Don't ever stop!!

Deborah Stauch said...

Ruth, Sally: Thanks so much for such sweet comments!

Wesley and Maria Lu said...

Absolutely gorgeous, I try but it was a total feilu

Bety said...

WOW! What a great look with the butterflies!Absolutely gorgeous!

Rociosasam said...

Hi, i´m very surprised with your blog, im from Mexico and your techinque is amazing! and some wonderful ideas! i love to cook and bake. My work is on educational system but on my free time love to bake and try some new ideas, from now im your #1 fan! thanks 4 sharing

MaytCakes said...

What a nice tutorial! Congrats and many thanks for sharing this w/ all us!

Anonymous said...

I'm from Manila. Can you give me an idea where to get those molds for the balls and cone shape ones.
I am glad I found your site. You have lots of amazing and unique baking ideas.


Tiffiny Felix said...

O.M.G. I *love* this! *:D*

Milicocinillas said...

Good job !! It´s a great idea. Thanks for teaching ! Un beso desde Valencia España

Lubna said...


I love your cake - and have posted a pic, with a link on my FB page -

I'd love to use some of your butterfly cake images on one of my blogs - please can you know if it's at all possible to email you some details? I'm contactable via

Please let me know.

Butterfly blessings

Deborah Stauch said...

Thanks so much for the encouraging words!

Angela said...

Hi! I am baking a cake as I write this. My son is turning 13 on Christmas Eve, and wanted a "plain" cake... nothing decorative at all... like all the others he had when he was young. So, his brothers and I devised a surprise for the inside of the cake... instead of your sweet butterflies... I have baked Slenderman cookies (a scary meme game character that sneaks up on you) inside! This time he will sneak up on him, inside his cake!! He will FREAK out! I hope he loves it and much as I love the cake/cookie technique that you have created here -its so creative! Thank you and Merry Christmas! ~Angela

Deborah Stauch said...

It sounds like a wonderful surprise! Hope you'll send a link to some photos when you've sliced it open. Thanks for sharing your experience with me.

Merry Christmas!

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

You are AMAZING! Thanks for the tips, can't wait to try!!

TDHG American Horse said...

Love your blog. It isn't just about cakes but your adventure in creating! Your interesting to read and mouthwatering at the same time. I do have a question. Maybe I missed that post ( I am squinting at it on my iPhone). Why did you not just cut out butterfly's from cake? Have you tries using one of those tube flower things? Keep up the great stories and experimenting.

Anonymous said...

I love this! My sister is obsessed with butterflies so can't wait to surprise her with this cake for her birthday :)
Am I right in thinking that half the cookies you put in the cake are raw and half are softly baked?
Also with your polka dot cake, how can you do it if you don't have a cake pop pan? Really want to give it a go!
Thank you for your absolutely fab blog :D

T. Boberri said...

Hi Deborah!

I am so inspired by your blog & your brilliant ideas! I am not an expert baker by no means but your ideas & step by step guide has inspire me. My son will be turning 9 yrs old & he is celebrating his 7th Star Wars theme bday. I will be using the darth vader & storm trooper cookie cutters for the surprise inside cake (one layer darth, the 2nd one, storm trooper). He and his friends are in for a great surprise! I can not thank you enough for the inspiration!!

T. Boberri

Anonymous said...

This is so, so amazing!

Anonymous said...

wow, this is really clever. I love the green and purple together :)

Unknown said...

I'm glad I found this! My daughter's bday is on Monday and she told me she wanted a surprise inside her cake so I began googling some ideas. I showed her the polka dot cake and she told me she wanted a toy! When we saw the butterflies, i went digging through our cookie cutters and found a Noah's Arc set and the bear looks like a gummy bear so we are doing a gummy bear themed cake!

Deborah Stauch said...

Hope you'll share some photos when you're done. Happy caking!

Unknown said...

This is such a cool idea! I can't wait to try it!

Deborah Stauch said...

Thanks Alissa! If you'd like to post photos of your completed cake, we'd love to see them.
Happy Caking!

Maxie said...

I'm about to start on this cake, but I wish I knew how many cookies to make. Why do you show 5 cake pans, but the finished cake is only 2 layers? I think I will opt for 2 6" layers and 2 9" layers making 2 cakes. We're using Devil's Food cake and chocolate icing with white sugar cookies inside.

Maxie said...

Wow! I consider myself to be a fairly competent cook, but I'm now FIVE HOURS into this cake. The layers are only just now in the oven. I'm terrified they will run over! I had to use 3 cake mixes to cover the cookies in two 9" and 2 6" pans.
If you use refrigerated cookie dough like I did, you will need to have it at room temp and add a good bit of flour to make it stiffer. It won't roll out when it's too cold. Plus, don't roll it too thin. My tiny little butterfly cookie cutters still made cookies too big to fit into the pans as pictured here. The ones that were too thin wouldn't stand up in the pan - kept keeling over.
This was quite labor intensive, and VERY messy. From the way mine looked as I was assembling the cookies and pouring the too-thick batter, I can't imagine it will be fit to look at when I'm done. I'll probably never try it again!
If I change my mind after it's done, I'll recant.

Maxie said...

As predicted in my posts above: cake was delicious and pretty on the outside. The white blobs of cookie on the inside didn't look anything like butterflies. They tasted fine, and contrary to my prediction, they didn't hinder cutting or enjoying the cake. But for the intense effort involved, I won't be doing a repeat.

Deborah Stauch said...

Sorry not to answer sooner. Rough week with a brief hospital stay.
You must be so dissapointed after all of your hard work. I haven't tried anything but the sugar cookie recipe I adapted. I doesn't spread much when baked so it's easier to predict what size the cookies will end up being. Did you bake yours before putting them in the cake batter?
I guess the best thing is that at least we can always eat our mistakes! : ) Thanks for giving it a go.
Happy Caking!

Linda said...

Myself and my daughter just found your blog when researching butterfly birthday cakes for her upcoming birthday. Fantastic, and very inspiring.

Deborah Stauch said...

Thanks Linda!

Sappy Turtle said...

I am absolutely in love with this cake, thank you for sharing such a fantastic idea. I love butterflies so much that next spring I'm getting married at a butterfly conservatory, butterflies flying all around us while we have our ceremony. I am also an avid baker. I am totally making my own wedding cake now, thanks to your inspiring post. :)

Sappy Turtle said...

I am absolutely in love with this cake, thank you for sharing such a fantastic idea. I love butterflies so much that next spring I'm getting married at a butterfly conservatory, butterflies flying all around us while we have our ceremony. I am also an avid baker. I am totally making my own wedding cake now, thanks to your inspiring post. :)

Deborah Stauch said...

Princess Lola: Congratulations! Can't wait to see how your cake turns out!

Unknown said...

I have a question - why do you make 5 layers, when you only used 2? It seems like a waste of time & effort.

Deborah Stauch said...

Erin: I was still experimenting at this point so I baked up the extra batter. More specific amounts will be in my book. Thanks for stopping by!

Unknown said...

Hi Danielle, I am in the UK and am a bit excited to try this butterfly cake, but i am a bit confused by what the butterflies are made of! Cookies here are biscuits? please can you help me understand as i cannot seem to find the ingredients for them on the link to the other tutorial you have given?
Confused - pom .com ha ha
Thank you Kerri

Deborah Stauch said...

The link for the recipe is now included at the very bottom of the post or you can find it at:

Happy Caking!

Judy said...

This is just beau-ti-ful!!!! Waoh!

Deborah Stauch said...

Thanks Judy! I promise that the next butterfly cake anyone sees from me will be much more refined.

Dionne said...

I am going to try this cake but am confused about one thing if I use the cooked/raw sandwiched method. (Bevelling is beyond me) After I sandwich the raw and slightly baked cookies in the slightly baked cake batter base, do I bake it for a few minutes and then cover in batter or just cover the whole thing in batter and bake? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

What a cool idea might have to try it so I get it right you use a biscuit dough for the shapes ive been told to use a cake mix and cut it into slices and cut out shapes with cookie cutters

reda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
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