I have a penchant for butterfly cakes; simple, little sponge cakes that have had their middle cut away and divided in two before being filled with butter cream and then adorned with their own, wing-like innards. They supposedly resemble butterflies. These were all the rage during the school fetes and church bake sales of my childhood. If there was a home-made cake stall present you could guarantee you’d find a paper plate, or two, of these little beauties. They seem to have fallen out of favour and I rarely find such gems in bakeries, they’re just not cool enough. As a child I was entranced by their pale, golden fluff. The taste of tooth-achingly sweet butter cream and vanilla sponge was enough to send me into a hyperactive state of euphoria. I thought the use of the wings was just so clever then and, as an adult, I can see that these perhaps sit within the realms of the kitsch but I would still rather one of these alongside my dainty teacup than I would a grotesquely, excessively spiral-iced cupcake of the modern baking age.
It was a friends first ‘Veganniversary’ recently (that’s one year of being vegan) and pretty little vegan cakes seemed an appropriate acknowledgment of this celebration. As I have found before, vegan baking does not require lots of strange ingredients, in the case of these cakes it merely meant the absence of eggs and the inclusion of a bit more baking powder and bicarb. They rose beautifully as pale, vanilla flecked cups of sponge. I am so often lured by cupcakes with a fat, Mr Whippy style dollop of frosting only to find myself breathing heavily half way through; too sweet, too much of a sponge-topping imbalance. Channelling the spirit of the ‘butterfly cake’ I cut into the centres and filled them with a teaspoon of vegan vanilla-raspberry ‘buttercream’ and then, if an effort to resist the kitsch, clamped the tops straight back on before dusting with icing sugar and raspberry dust. The result was light, dainty, moist bites of vanilla with hints of raspberry and no sickly half way point. Vegan baking at its prettiest, with just a hint of kitsch.
Vanilla Raspberry (Inverted) Butterfly Cakes
Ingredients (Makes 12)
1 1/4 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1/4 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda
tiny pinch of salt
3/4 cup nut/soy milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp good vanilla extract
1/4 cup margerine
2 cups icing sugar
handful crumbled freeze-dried raspberries
1 1/2 tbsp nut/soy milk
1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
Tbsp chocolate flakes/balls (optional)
Icing sugar and small handful of freeze dried raspberries for the topping (I also used some chopped pistachios)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake cases.
- Sift dry ingredients together and, in a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients together.
- Combine and mix.
- Divide mixture into the cases and bake for about 25 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean from the cake centre.
- Beat the icing ingredients together.
- When the cakes are cool cut a wide disc into the top and carefully remove the inside, keep the ‘lid’ and discard of the sponge middle. Fill the gap with a teaspoon of buttercream and firmly place the lid back on, making it as flat and uniform as you can.
- Dust the tops with icing sugar and raspberries.
Note: if you don’t have freeze dried raspberries then either keep the cakes vanilla or include a little orange/lemon zest in the buttercream. If eating immediately could probably substitute with fresh, chopped raspberries or strawberries.