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Mich Turner’s Butterfly Mother’s Day Cake

For this Mothers’ Day Cake I have chosen a fresh baked lemon cake, layered with lemon curd buttercream and optional toasted pistachios.

It is challenging to make a cake by the ‘creamed method’ over the winter months, as the incessant cold weather renders the ‘butter at room temperature’ pretty solid! Thankfully, as British Summer Time beckons, the days are getting longer and spring is definitely on its way. This is the perfect time to wake up the fresher, lighter flavours and celebrate the arrival of spring in true style!

The size of cake you choose to bake may well depend on how many people will be celebrating this special day. I have chosen a family size 8 inch cake – but you can halve this recipe for a 6 inch, or double this recipe for a party size 10 inch, and adjust the baking time by 15-20 minutes up or down as necessary.

  • Baking
  • 2-3 hours
  • Intermediate

You Will Need:

For the Cake:

  • 300g unsalted butter – softened
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 6 large Eggs (350g) - beaten
  • 420g self raising flour
  • 120ml whole milk
  • Zest of 4 lemons
  • 8-inch round cake tin

For the Syrup Glaze:

  • 100ml lemon juice (from the 4 lemons)
  • 100ml golden caster sugar

For the Lemon Curd Buttercream:

  • 200g unsalted butter softened
  • 400g golden icing sugar
  • 200g lemon curd (homemade or shop bought)
  • 2tsp vanilla bean paste
  • Optional - 50g toasted pistachios – rough chopped

To Prepare the Cake:

  • 1Kg pale pistachio green fondant sugar paste
  • Royal icing
  • Ribbon
  • Rolling pin
  • Smoothers
  • Large serrated knife

For the Painted Daisies:

  • Colour dusts – white, yellow
  • Cocoa butter
  • Paint brushes
  • Palette

For the Sugar Butterflies:

  • Template
  • Waxed paper
  • White royal icing
  • Flooding icing in various colours – using coloured gels
  • Paintbrush
  • Cocktail stick
  • Scrunched aluminium foil or sponge
  • Icing bags
  • No 2 and No 3 piping nozzles


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C and line the base and sides of an 8 inch round deep (3 inch) cake tin with baking paper.

  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

  3. Add the beaten eggs slowly until fully incorporated.

  4. Remove the bowl and sieve in the flour.

  5. Fold in with a metal spoon or rubber spatula.

  6. Stir in the milk and lemon zest.

  7. Spoon into the prepared tin and bake in the pre-heated oven for 1hr 20 mins until risen, golden brown on the surface and a knife inserted comes out clean.

  8. As soon as the cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup by gently heating the juice and sugar until dissolved and just come to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

  9. Butterfly Mother’s Day Cake

    Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack. Spike the cake with a cocktail stick or skewer all over the surface and spoon over the lemon syrup.

  10. Leave the cake in the tin until cold. Wrap with greaseproof paper and aluminium foil and refrigerate to firm.

  11. Now to make the lemon curd buttercream! Beat the butter and sugar together until mixed, then beat in the lemon curd to taste.

  12. Spread the pistachios out on a baking tin and toast in the oven at 180C for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool then roughly chop.

  13. Now, back to the cake. Remove the cake from the fridge and turn out of the tin. Turn the cake upside down.

  14. Slice the cake in half horizontally with a large serrated knife.

  15. Butterfly Mother’s Day Cake

    Spread one side generously with buttercream, and sprinkle with rough chopped toasted pistachios.

  16. Butterfly Mother’s Day Cake

    Place the other half of the cake on top and then spread the remaining buttercream over the sides and top of the cake with a palette knife. Smooth.

  17. On a clean work surface, knead 750g pale green sugar paste fondant until smooth and pliable.

  18. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll the fondant out to a circle large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. The fondant should be approximately 3-4mm thick.

  19. Butterfly Mother’s Day Cake

    Lift the fondant up over the cake and smooth.

  20. Trim the fondant and place the cake either on a cake stand, or on a larger prepared cake board. Leave to firm overnight.

  21. Fix a length of ribbon around the base of the cake, held in position with royal icing.

  22. Butterfly Mother’s Day Cake

    Now it’s time to hand-paint different sized daisies over the top and sides of the cake – leaving space for the butterflies. Place the colour dusts in a palette and place over a bowl of freshly boiled water. Add a few pellets of cocoa butter to the palette and allow to melt. Blend the colour dusts with the cocoa butter and paint the daisies into position on the cake. Allow to dry.

    TOP TIP – to clean the brush between colours or to finish, dip the bristles in the cocoa butter and wipe on kitchen towel.

  23. Now for the gorgeous sugar butterflies! They are time consuming, yet simple and satisfying to make and can be made well in advance. Changing the colour, style, size and decoration transforms these charming bugs; and they are great to have prepared and stored, ready to add the finishing touch to any last minute cakes or cupcakes.

  24. Butterfly Mother’s Day Cake

    Fix the template onto a clean work board with tape. Place a larger sheet of waxed paper over the top held in place with tape. Make up the royal icing and coloured flooding icing (thinned down with a little cold water). Transfer the flooding icing to squeezy pots.

  25. Hand pipe the outline of each butterfly using a piping bag fitted with No 2 nozzle and white royal icing.

  26. Butterfly Mother’s Day Cake

    Flood the top or base wings of the butterflies, using a paintbrush, held vertically over the top, to swirl the icing into all corners of the outline. Add drops of other colours to the wings and pull through with a cocktail stick to create heart shapes. Repeat and allow to dry overnight.

  27. Butterfly Mother’s Day Cake

    Carefully lift the butterfly wings from the waxed paper using a small cranked handle palette knife. Fill a piping bag with No 3 nozzle and stiffened white royal icing. Hand pipe the centre bodies of the butterflies. Fix the wings into the bodies and prop the wings up using scrunched up aluminium foil or cut up pieces of sponge. Allow the wings to be fairly open for the best effect once on the cake. Allow to dry overnight (or a minimum of 6 hours).

  28. When you are ready to decorate the cake with the butterflies, lift the butterfly body from the waxed paper with a small cranked handle palette knife. Handle the butterfly carefully by one of the wings. Pipe a little royal icing underneath the body and hold in position on the top or side of the cake for a count of 20 to allow the icing to take hold. Leave 1-2 hours to set firm before attempting to transport the cake.