I made these royal icing butterflies for a birthday cake. The theme of the cake was butterflies and flowers and it was for an eight year old girl, so I decided to go with a slightly animated design (with polka dots) for the butterflies.
The butterflies were made entirely of royal icing and to give them a 3D effect, I made the wings separately and then attached them together once the wings were set and dry.
How to Make Royal Icing Butterflies – Video
Check out my full video on how to make these pretty royal icing butterflies:
How to Make Royal Icing Butterflies - Step by Step Tutorial
These were the main supplies I used in making the royal icing butterflies:
- Butterfly template - I drew mine freehand and traced a few copies on parchment paper.
- Royal icing - I used my royal icing recipe (click here for the recipe). To make these butterflies, I used royal icing in 2 consistencies - stiff and runny. The stiff consistency was for the outlines and to attach the wings together while the runny consistency was to fill the wings.
- Food color - I used Wilton gel paste in orange and golden yellow.
- Piping nozzles/tips - I used Wilton tips #3 and #5. Number 3 was for the outlines and number 5 was for the butterflies' body.
- Piping bags - I used 3 piping bags for this project, one for the white royal icing and the other 2 for the orange and yellow icing each.
- Parchment paper and cardboard - parchment paper was used to pipe the butterflies on as well as to cover the cardboard when they are being assembled into 3D butterflies. The cardboard, on the other hand, is used to hold the wings in place while they dry, to form 3D butterflies.
And this was how you make the butterflies:
- First and foremost, before you even make the royal icing, prepare the royal icing butterfly template, or butterfly wings template to be precise. You can draw this freehand, or trace from the internet or a favorite book. I made a number of these templates so that I could pipe all the butterflies at once.
- Once you have the templates ready, turn them over so that the pencil mark does not get transferred to the icing.
- Using blue tack, stick the templates onto flat cake boards so that the templates do not move while you pipe the icing.
Royal Icing Butterflies outline
- And then start the piping. Begin with the outlines using white royal icing. Royal icing is naturally white so there was no need to tint it white. Using Wilton tip #3, start with the centerline. And then proceed with the inner outlines of the wing.
- Finish off the outline with one more line at the center. Repeat the same on the other side of the wing.
Royal icing consistency
- Once the outlines are done, you can start to fill the wings with color. For the filling, thin the royal icing by adding warm water to it, a little at a time until I have the right consistency. I normally check the consistency by cutting through the icing with a spoon. If the icing is in the right consistency, the cut through line should disappear in 10 seconds.
- Fill the icing into piping bags, one for yellow and one for orange. And then cut off a tiny hole at the end of the piping bag. Since the icing is in a runny consistency, it is important that the hole is tiny (mine was the size of Wilton tip #3) or else it will be difficult to control the flow of the icing when filling the butterfly wings.
Filling up the royal icing butterflies
- Start by filling the outer section of the wing.
- And then the insides.
- Next, add the polka dots as shown. Once all the wings are completed, leave them aside (overnight) for the icing to really set and dry. The icing has to dry completely or the wings will break when being peeled off the parchment paper.
Peeling of the royal icing butterfly wings
- Once they were completely dry, remove them from the cake boards and cut the templates into half such that you have one wing on one piece of parchment paper. It is easier to peel the wings that way.
- Peel the paper of carefully, making sure the wings did not crack or break.
- And this is how the wings looked like for my butterflies:
Assembling the royal icing butterflies
- The next process is assembling the butterflies. For this purpose, use parchment paper and cardboard. Cut square pieces of parchment, similar to the size you used for piping the butterflies and fold them into 2, each.
- As for the cardboard, you can use a large rectangle piece (slightly smaller than an A4 paper).
- Fold the cardboard into a "w" shape as shown.
- Next, attach Wilton tip #5 to a piping bag filled with white royal icing in stiff consistency.
- Place the folded parchment paper onto the folded cardboard as shown. Using one side of the butterfly wing as a guide, pipe one line of icing, in the length of the butterfly.
- Then pressed the wing into the icing.
- And do the same with the other wing of the butterfly.
- And for the final step, pipe another line of icing using tip #5 to secure the wings in place.
- Leave the butterflies to dry completely ( I left mine overnight again). And when they are completely set, peel them off the parchment squares, carefully. And this was how my butterflies looked like:
- As for attaching them onto a cake, I used white royal icing. I piped 2 lines of icing along the center and then attached them to the cake. You would need to hold them in place for a while for the icing to set.
- And that was how I made my royal icing butterflies. See how I made the rest of my butterflies and flower cake here:
Hope you find this tutorial on how to make royal icing butterflies useful.
Happy decorating 🙂