Every time I think about butterflies (and especially these butterfly cupcakes) I think of my brother when Jim and I were probably 5 and 6 years old. I’m older by 13 months and (so I’ve been told) Jim did whatever my sister or I said.
Let me set the scene by saying there was a staircase going up the against the outer wall of my parents’ home with an oversized window at the top looking down the street. My mother loved that window because it gave a lot of light to the upstairs hallway and stairs. She had a valance over the window and that was all.
Every night after dinner my father would pop my brother and I in the tub and this one night he got a phone call. Jim and I got old or bored waiting for him to come back so we decided to get out. We were drying with the towels and one of us, and I’m guessing me, suggested that we become butterflies with our towels. There we were, naked as jaybirds, running up and down the hallway, flapping our towels like butterfly wings. It was the best fun.
We got tired of that and got dressed into our PJs and went to read each other a story. No, neither of us could read but not being able to do something never stopped me from pretending I could. That was the end of the story, or so we thought. Dad came up, read us (another) story and we went to sleep.
The next day my mother called Jim and I into the kitchen and her face looked like she’d lived on beets all her life and nothing else. I’ve never seen a woman with a face that red.
“What were you two doing upstairs last night?”
Jim and I looked at each other and laughed and rather proudly said, “We played butterflies!” I was pretty sure we were going to get complimented on putting ourselves to bed quietly. No, that wasn’t it.
It was the first spanking I ever remember. It was all my fault that I had dragged my younger brother down the track to depravity. Mrs. Jolin who lived next door watched the whole thing through her window and wanted my mother to know how naughty her children were.
When I was making these cupcakes, every few minutes I’d think about this story and I’d crack up laughing. These cupcakes are really easy to make, don’t need any icing – just a dollop of whipped cream and dessert is done.
You can ‘butterfly’ any cupcake by cutting a circle out of the top of the cupcake, slice off the inside bit to make it flat, cut it in two to make two wings and sit them in the whipped cream. See? Easy!
- 3 cups plain/AP flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 170 grams / 1½ sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1½ cups sugar
- 4 large eggs at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract - the good stuff matters in these cupcakes
- 1¼ cups full cream milk
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F degrees.
- Place cupcake liners in the pans and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
- In bowl of your mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Don't skimp on this one.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and add the vanilla.
- Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.
- Fill each cupcake liner about ¾ full and place in the oven.
- Rotate the pans halfway through the baking and bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes,
- Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.
- Once cool, take a paring knife and cut a circle out of the top of the cupcake and slice off the point and cut the circle in half. You have two semi-circles. These are the wings.
- Fill the hole in the top of the cupcake with whipped cream and place the wings into the cream to make a butterfly.