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Butterflies perched on top of a cake


beacheschef
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What would you recommend that I use to make butterflies that will perch on top of a cake?

My first thought is to use pastillage (I'm currently experimenting with it), but don't know if there's a better medium to use. I'm in Florida, so I do have to be careful with humidity.

Also - will pastillage soften and break if placed on top of buttercream? I know it won't break right away, but a couple of days later, will it?

Beaches Pastry

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Beaches Pastry Blog

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I would make them out of rolled fondant with cornstarch added, or gum paste or umm, candy clay or a combination of two or three of those. I don't know if pastillage butterflies will 'metamorphis' on buttercream or not.

Do you want this for a display???

The rice paper or wafer paper ones can be kinda delicate. I'd be more worried about those for a display.

And I think I've seen them made out of gelatine too.

Oh yeah, don't forget royal icing--that might dissolve on buttercream though. Unless you wired it.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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I would make them out of rolled fondant with cornstarch added, or gum paste or umm, candy clay or a combination of two or three of those. I don't know if pastillage butterflies will 'metamorphis' on buttercream or not.

Do you want this for a display???

The rice paper or wafer paper ones can be kinda delicate. I'd be more worried about those for a display.

And I think I've seen them made out of gelatine too.

Oh yeah, don't forget royal icing--that might dissolve on buttercream though. Unless you wired it.

The idea is that the cake will be covered with butterflies that are "taking flight" - so these need to be made with something that will stand up on top of the cake. (the rice paper ones are beautiful, but will lay flat)

I plan to paint the butterflies with luster dusts. They need to look pretty, but not fabulously realistic.

The real "gift" is the beauty of the cake with these butterflies on it. The "WOW" factor is what we're going for.

Thanks for your thoughts - Mary

Beaches Pastry

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Beaches Pastry Blog

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Jan Kish from La Petite Fleur did a similar design - white square cakes covered with a cascade of orange/yellow/coppery painted butterflies. They looked as if they were made from gum paste or fondant, their wings were shaped like the letter "V".

CalJavaOnline sells pre-made white gum paste butterflies in two sizes, on wires. You could just as easily get a butterfly cutter and make your own as K8 said.....

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piped white chocolate (or candy chips) with some dark or milk for contrast would be nice and wouldn't be affected by the humidity or the buttercream. they're solid enough for standing up and the white would look great with luster dusts. just another option.

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Thanks for the info on Jan Kish. I viewed her site - WOW! Her butterfly cake was along the lines of what I had in mind - butterflies flying. Hers are FABULOUS!

I've never used the rice paper butterflies - can someone tell me more about them?

The idea of using white chocolate sounds good, too. Never thought of making the butterflies edible (as in something the customer would want to eat) - I was more concerned about their stability!

Is there a reason that I wouldn't want to use pastillage - that's what I'm currently experimenting with. I like it because I can roll it very thin (delicate wings), it dries so fast and doesn't soak up the humidity (yet!!)

I truly appreciate all of your comments and suggestions. Mary

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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I would make them out of rolled fondant with cornstarch added, or gum paste or umm, candy clay or a combination of two or three of those. I don't know if pastillage butterflies will 'metamorphis' on buttercream or not.

Do you want this for a display???

The rice paper or wafer paper ones can be kinda delicate. I'd be more worried about those for a display.

And I think I've seen them made out of gelatine too.

Oh yeah, don't forget royal icing--that might dissolve on buttercream though. Unless you wired it.

Any reason why you'd use one medium vs. another? I've got fondant and can make gumpaste. I could look up a candy clay recipe, if needed. I'm afraid fondant will get soft sitting on the buttercream (I could wire them, though) - don't think the gumpaste would soften, though. It always works fine when I use it for flowers - not falling apart.

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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Thanks for the info on Jan Kish. I viewed her site - WOW! Her butterfly cake was  along the lines of what I had in mind - butterflies flying. Hers are FABULOUS!

I've never used the rice paper butterflies - can someone tell me more about them?

The idea of using white chocolate sounds good, too. Never thought of making the butterflies edible (as in something the customer would want to eat) - I was more concerned about their stability!

Is there a reason that I wouldn't want to use pastillage - that's what I'm currently experimenting with. I like it because I can roll it very thin (delicate wings), it dries so fast and doesn't soak up the humidity (yet!!)

I truly appreciate all of your comments and suggestions. Mary

i like pastillage for the reasons you state (dries fast, roll thin), but you need to give them some shape before you dry them and that might make it difficult to paint/color them if that's what you're looking to do. if you want them a bit abstract...like shapes with luster, then you don't have a problem and i think pastillage is a great medium.

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The reason I use one medium over another is purely dependant on what I have on hand. Even gum paste will soften due to a myriad of reasons mostly refrigeration issues if it's made and dried properly in the first place. But I mean the only reason I would not use pastillage is because I rarely use it. I'm more familiar with how the other sugar doughs handle in whatever circumstances I need to put them through. Pastillage would probably work fine.

I made this dynamite stuff once--the gum paste/fondant/candy clay mixture. I loved it! I made six inch high letters out of it that stood 3-d above a cake. I even crossed a 't' in mid air and it held beautifully. In all honesty, I did use a little wire in the biggest letters though.

So I know my other concoctions work great so I would not venture into pastillage for a butterfly unless it was like a twelve inch wingspan or something. That's just me though.

Wafer paper, you can just get it printed whatever way you want at that link Steve posted. Go to the spot there that says FINISHING INSTRUCTIONS HERE.

PRINTED FOR YOU.... make an impression!

IDEAS USING BUTTERFLIES

FINISHING INSTRUCTIONS HERE

.HOME-MENU | Cake Gallery

But plan A for me would be to make them out of all edible and flavor them so people will want to eat them. That makes it more fun I think.

PS. Oh yeah and I would put them on at the last possible moment to avoid as much potential drama as possible.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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Back in January Nicholas Lodge visited my school and gave a demonstration on gumpaste flowers. It was the first thing I thought of when I read this post. He lives and has his studio in Atlanta, which I imagine has similar humidity levels as FL... He said it dries and resists humidity... He was able to do some amazing finishes with his coloring, maybe you would like the recipe??

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Back in January Nicholas Lodge visited my school and gave a demonstration on gumpaste flowers. It was the first thing I thought of when I read this post. He lives and has his studio in Atlanta, which I imagine has similar humidity levels as FL... He said it dries and resists humidity... He was able to do some amazing finishes with his coloring, maybe you would like the recipe??

I just saw him for the first time last week. He was awesome.

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Back in January Nicholas Lodge visited my school and gave a demonstration on gumpaste flowers. It was the first thing I thought of when I read this post. He lives and has his studio in Atlanta, which I imagine has similar humidity levels as FL... He said it dries and resists humidity... He was able to do some amazing finishes with his coloring, maybe you would like the recipe??

I would love the recipe!

Also, any information you learned on "...amazing finishes with his coloring..."

I'm using pearlized chalk and pearl dust for coloring, but would welcome any tips.

Thanks!

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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how about greesing the butterfly cookie mold and pouring caramel into it - to solidify. then you pop it out and draw with coloured royal icing var. patterns. it'll be pretty translucent amber and will stand up on top no problem!

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Sorry I didn't post this sooner, I've been out in gaga land the last couple of days and just got back!

Tylose Paste:

Fresh or frozen egg whites - 125g - 4 3/8 oz

powdered sugar - 700g + 250g - 1 lb 9 oz + 9 oz

tylose powder - 35g - 1 1/4 oz

vegetable shortening - 20g - 3/4 oz

1. break egg whites in kitchen aid mixer

2. on low speed, add 700g powdered sugar --> royal icing consistency

3. mix at speed 3 or 4 for about 2 min, until soft peak - if coloring entire batch, add the paste, gel or liquid color now, making it a shade darker than the desired color

4. on low speed, add tylose over a 5 second time period. Turn speed to high for a few seconds to thicken.

5. scrape mixture onto a work surface that has been sprinkled with some of the 250 g of powdered sugar. Knead shortening into the paste, adding enough of the reserved powdered sugar to form a soft but not sticky dough, it should come away clean in your fingers. Seal in 2 ziploc bags and let mature 24 hours in a cool environment.

6. when ready to use, cut a small amount and add a little shortening into it. If coloring at this point, add coloring until desired shade is achieved.

The paste will last 6 months in the refrigerator if sealed in ziploc bags, and will freeze indefinately. Let come to room temp before use.

In his demo, Nicholas Lodge used the kitchenaid pasta attachment to thin the tylose paste down to his desired working thickness. The demo was 6 hours long and coloring was the last thing he did, and apparently I stopped taking notes somewhere in the middle. What I remember is he used a lot of dusting powder and pearl dust with small paintbrushes. He used shortening as glaze. He also used a combination of gel food coloring and vodka and sprayed it using a small compressed air sprayer.

Sorry my notes were not more comprehensive, but it's the longest I've sat in a chair since I flew back from London last year! He has a ton of stuff for sale on his website www.nicholaslodge.com including the paste and various stencils and things.

Good luck with the project!

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Thanks Serj! What is tylose powder? Is it like gum trag?

What did you mean that he used shortening as a glaze - just brushed the shortening onto the item he'd colored with pearl dust? Does this "set" the colors?

Another question:

I'm coloring the pastillage with pearl dust that I purchased at a craft shop (non toxic, but not from a baking website). I tried mixing the dust with vodka, but it wouldn't mix - just floated on top. I've gotten better results dipping my brush into water, then the jar of dust to paint on the butterfly.

What are you using to paint pastillage with? AND, what did you mix it with to apply to the pastillage?

I have to get clever, since I don't have time to order anything from the internet...

I have my craft store pearl dusts, gel-based food colors and anything else I can purchase locally.

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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how about greesing the butterfly cookie mold and pouring caramel into it - to solidify. then you pop it out and draw with coloured royal icing var. patterns. it'll be pretty translucent amber and will stand up on top no problem!

Mmmmm....that sounds wonderful! Wish it wasn't so humid here in FL - they would be beautiful! Unfortunately, caramel dissolves pretty quickly here (and this project is just NOT worth getting into isomalt)

Thanks for the sweet thoughts, though.

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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I like to make my butterflies by putting the wing patterns under waxed paper and then piping royal icing on the paper to outline them. You can color the icing pastel colors or leave it white. I usually use a combination of colors. If you don't fill in the outlines totally, the wings look lacy and fragile.

When they are totally dried, I pipe some cake icing (usually buttercream) in a 'tube' butterfly body shape, and while wet - I insert the wings.

Royal icing is very lightweight if you use a small tip to pipe the wings with and you can put them on the sides or top of the cake and they will stay nicely.

the butterflies in the pic look as if there were printed on rice paper, or hand colored.

You could also make gelatin sheets, color and cut them out.

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As far as painting goes, hmm, doesn't mix up huh. Well I've only used the non-toxic but specifically for cake dusts. You could do it where you use it as a powdery dust then steam your piece a tid tad to set it. Just hold it over steam for a coupla seconds. The color may or may not be as intense but it'd still be butterflyable.

I think the shorteneing as a glaze part is when you store gum paste you want to coat it with shortening to create a barrier to protect it from drying out. Also at different times you will use shortening to roll a piece out on & different techniques. But used in particular as a glaze, hmm, well to get a shiny effect you would use shortening. Like for patent leather I would use oil or shortening to create that effect.

But y'know, what?? Another thing about mixing the dust with alcohol. I use a very small dish like the size of a tea bag holder only deeper. I put my dust in the dish then add a few drops of alcohol. Of course I can't see how you are doing this, but the idea is that you are more making a paste rather than making a liquid paint. So maybe try it that way and smush the powder into the liquid until it is all moistened. And adjust if it is too thick or too thin. If too thin just wait and the stuff will evaporate off. Use a timer if necessary, like 10 minute increments or else it will all dry up. But of course it is storable and re-useable in that dried up state, don't throw it away. I just cover mine & it keeps forever, then just re-moisten.

Maybe too much information but if it is sitting on top of the alcohol, it seems you might be using too much liquid. Just smush it all together. It should moisten,

Now one more thing. Umm, you can use shaved pastels (chalk) to make this dust stuff. Just scrape it with a razor easy peasy. I bought some for back up once. I got the oil pastels because it was a better deal and prettier colors but oil pastels don't work. hahaha Yeah that was real funny. So you can factor that into your thing that not's mixing up. Maybe it's got oil in it?

Anyhow, I hope we get pictures at least let us all know how it's going and all.

I think Tippy's royal icing way is the easiest. 'Cause then just color the royal and dust it with pearl. No brainer.

You can do it You can do it!!

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Thanks all. Figured out that the pearl dusts I'm using like to be mixed in water, a drop at a time. I stole an eyedropper from my son's chemistry kit and mix my colors in shot glasses (so that's what they're used for!) all lined up along the "bar".

As with purple color in fondant, the purple dust is "funky" and looks almost gray. I may skip the premixed purple and combine my own pink and blue to see if that works better.

I have a more quiet week, so I can focus on painting. Will post photos once I have something to show.

Will experiment with royal icing, as I have to make it to glue the butterfly wings together on my current pastillage work.

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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Thanks all. Figured out that the pearl dusts I'm using like to be mixed in water, a drop at a time. I stole an eyedropper from my son's chemistry kit and mix my colors in shot glasses (so that's what they're used for!) all lined up along the "bar".

As with purple color in fondant, the purple dust is "funky" and looks almost gray. I may skip the premixed purple and combine my own pink and blue to see if that works better.

I have a more quiet week, so I can focus on painting. Will post photos once I have something to show.

Will experiment with royal icing, as I have to make it to glue the butterfly wings together on my current pastillage work.

Hmm, if it will mix in water, it will mix in alcohol. The alcohol evaporates quickly. Water based paint will soak more into your piece and has the potential to create terminal havoc. Some people use lemon extract which has one of the highest alcohol contents or almond extract or vanilla. I use everclear usually.

I'm a little confused. Are you mixing the dust into the fondant? Or do you mean you're mixing the gel colors into the fondant and then dusting them? Then of course, you know there's petal dust that gives a matte finish and luster dust that gives a bright pearly finish. Is your purple dust petal dust or luster dust?

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Very easy to make butterflies with rice paper and color them with edible markers. For 3D effect use piping gel and sprinkle on crystal sugar, or crystal sugar mixed with luster dust. Piping gel used alone or tinted makes the wings transluscent.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The butterflies in this photo were made with very thin gum paste.

http://www.aboutthecake.com/1604b7660.jpg

They were painted with luster and petal dust mixed with alcohol. They're put together with royal icing and propped while drying.

For the super realistic ones, use the wafer paper and edible printer ink, but for a less realistic use the gum paste so you can make them very thin. Fondant typically won't go this thin. Regardless of what edible format you use, they're going to be fragile.

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