Royal Icing Butterflies

I made this 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

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 I made the butterflies:

  • First and foremost, before I even made the royal icing, I prepared the butterfly template, or butterfly wings template to be precise. I drew one side of the wing and then traced it onto square parchment pieces. I made a number of these templates so that I could pipe all the butterflies at once. 

  • Once I had the templates ready, I turn them over ( so that the pencil mark does not get transferred to the icing).

  • Using blue tack, I stick the templates onto flat cake boards so that the templates do not move while I am piping the icing.

  • And then I start the piping. I started with the outlines using white royal icing (royal icing is naturally white so there was no need to tint it white). I used Wilton tip #3 for the outline. I started with the center line. And then I proceeded with the inner outlines of the wing.

  • And I finished off the outline with one more line at the center. I repeated the same on the other side of the wing.

  • Once the outlines were done, I went on to fill the wings with color. For the filling, I thinned 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. 

  • I filled the icing into piping bags, one for yellow and one for orange. And then I cut off a tiny hole 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.

  • I started by filling the outer section of the wing.

  • And then the insides.

  • Next, I added polka dots as shown. Once all the wings were completed, I left 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.

  • Once they were completely dry, I removed them from the cake boards and cut the templates into half such that I had one wing on one piece of parchment paper. It was easier to peel the wings that way.

  • I peeled the paper of carefully, making sure the wings did not crack or break.

  • And this is how the wings looked like:

  • The next process is assembling the butterflies. For this purpose, I used parchment paper and cardboard. I cut square pieces of parchment, similar to the size i used for piping the butterflies and folded them into 2, each.

  • As for the cardboard, I used a large rectangle piece (slightly smaller than an A4 paper).

  • I folded the cardboard into a "w" shape as shown.

  • Next, I attached Wilton tip #5 to a piping bag filled with white royal icing in stiff consistency. 

  • I placed the folded parchment paper onto the folded cardboard as shown. Using one side of the butterfly wing as a guide, I piped one line of icing, in the length of the butterfly. 

  • I then pressed the wing into the icing. 

  • And did the same with the other wing of the butterfly.

  • And for the final step, I piped another line of icing using tip #5 to secure the wings in place. 

  • I left the butterflies to dry completely ( I left them overnight again). And when they were completely set, I peeled them off the parchment squares, carefully. And this was how the butterflies looked like:
Royal Icing Butterflies

  • 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. 

Here is my video tutorial on how I made the royal icing butterflies above:

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. 

Do share your thoughts below. 

Happy decorating :)

How to Make Royal Icing Butterflies

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