Butterflies in Royal Icing
April 4, 2011
Tags: Beautiful Cake: Irresistible Cakes and Cookies, Bronx Zoo, butterflies, Butterfly, Butterfly Exhibit, Dried Egg Whites, Museum of Natural History, Peggy Porschen, Powdered Egg Whites, Powdered Sugar, Royal, Royal Icing, Royal Icing Butterflies, Spring
Finally its really starting to feel like spring, even though newscasters threatened there would be snow last week. Thankfully they were mistaken. The Museum of Natural History here in the city has a really cool live butterfly exhibit going on currently. I’m planning on getting over there soon, but from what I can see its alot like the Bronx Zoo’s year round exhibit which I had fun visiting not too long ago.
The Butterfly House in the Bronx Zoo is a really peaceful place to spend the day, especially in late fall or early spring when you don’t have to contend with crowds. I’d suggest not going on the weekend if you want a quiet day to yourself. Its a few bucks extra for admission for the Butterfly Hut, but worth the cash. Aside from the Flutterbies, there is a really beautiful pond filled with massive coy fish and even some birds that all reside in the small hut.
Inspired by these spring creatures heres simple way to make your own butterflies with royal icing. Though the technique is little more than tracing, it will take a number of days for the butterflies to dry.
First you need a recipe of Royal Icing. Royal icing was actually what my first post was about. Heres a different take on Royal.
I used 3 Tbsp mixed with 1/2 c of water. I whisked to help dissolve the egg and let it stand for about 5 minutes.
Start whipping and slowly add 2 c of powdered sugar.
Mix for 7-10 minutes. Separate into small bowls and color with food coloring. Thin some of your icing to thin consistency adding 1-2 tsp water per cup. The icing should not hold shape when its thinned– meaning it slowly settles to a smooth surface as you mix or pipe it but its still thick. Make sure when storing to seal tightly with plastic wrap as royal icing dries quickly.
You now need a template to trace. I sketched one of each wing on to tracing paper and folded it in half and retraced to get a carbon copy of the matching wing.
If this all sounds too complicated check out Peggy Porshen’s Pretty Party Cakes or Beautiful Cakes: Irresitable Cakes and Cookies. This project is included in both books though teaching the Wilton Method is what actually inspired me to make butterflies this way. Both Peggy’s books have wing tracing templates in the back of the books and her work is so beautiful you won’t be able to resist the ideas inspired by these publications.
Place your tracing paper on a cookie sheet, under a sheet of wax paper (not parchment– your work will stick if you use parchment and most likely break) With medium royal icing colored to your choosing, trace the out line of the wings. Fill in with thin royal icing. Set aside to dry– can take up to 3 days though it can go faster.
Once the wings are dry fold sheets of wax paper (2-3″ squares) and set inside folded index cards. Pipe a thick line of royal icing on crease of wax paper. Slide matching wings into line of icing, resting the wings on either side of the index card. Allow to dry balanced on a cookie sheet, or large cardboard egg carton.
Make sure butterflies are completely dry before removing from paper. Keep in a cool dry place out of light — as colors will fade. Butterflies will last for a couple months. Keep free from humidity– a.k.a don’t store in an air tight container as you may find your butterflies will melt if temperature becomes warm and humid.