Inspired by our visit to a butterfly conservatory I created beautiful DIY Royal Icing Butterflies.
This is an updated 2019 version of my Royal Icing Butterflies tutorial, originally published in 2010.
Butterflies are a little magic of nature. Few years back we visited White River Gardens at Indianapolis Zoo. Each year from March to September the Hilbert Conservatory is filled with free flying butterflies.
We were lucky as we visited in August and there were thousands of them in the Conservatory. It’s was really amazing. Butterflies were everywhere. I tried to sit still so they would land on me, but with no luck.
Perhaps, I’ll have more luck with sugar butterflies.
Inspired by our visit I decided to create a DIY Royal Icing Butterflies tutorial. These butterflies can be as simple or as detailed as you wish. Solid or piped into a lace.
Today I’m going to share 2 techniques for creating stunning Royal Icing Butterflies.
PIPED ROYAL ICING BUTTERFLIES
This method requires piping of the wings. With this technique you can create wet on wet designs. These can be particularly beautiful and very life like.
Or if you wish you can pipe lace designs, too. These butterflies are however very fragile so if you do so, make sure to pipe a few more. Just in case some break.
PIPE THE WINGS
- Place a piece of wax paper or parchment paper over the template.
- Using 15 second consistency royal icing pipe the wings.
- Let top wings crust before adding the bottom wings. Dry completely.
- When moving butterflies from work surface onto a tray, especially if icing hasn’t fully dried yet, use a flat spatula to transfer butterflies. This helps to fight hairline icing cracks.
- Form a drying tray. Fold a cardstock paper in half, then fold each half in half again. Shape a zic zac profile. Control the angle of the wings by pulling the ends of the paper tray apart or closer together.
- Remove the wings from the backing paper. If using parchment paper wings usually slide from the paper really easily. With wax paper I find you have to peel off the sheet to release the wings.
- Cut the paper you have left in half and fold each piece half. Using smaller pieces of paper allows you to fit more butterflies onto the drying tray.
- Pipe a body with black royal icing onto the crease. Attach wings and transfer to a drying tray. Let dry for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- If desired you can pipe another layer of the body on top of initial black body.
PAINTING WITH LUSTER DUST
Use luster dust mixed with lemon extract and paint dry butterfly wings. What is Luster Dust?
Stenciling technique is very efficient. Especially if you are short on time, I’d definitely recommend using method. You can make dozens of butterflies in a very short time.
One drawback is that you can’t produce wet on wet designs. The lack of wet on wet designs doesn’t make them any less beautiful.
Instead can airbrush, draw with edible markers, pipe swirls or use pretty sprinkles.
I use stencil blanks to create my stencil. Trace the butterfly outline onto the stencil blank and then with exacto knife I cut it out. I use Mylar Stencil Sheets. Make sure to cut the stencil out on a cutting board to protect your work surface.
ROYAL ICING CONSISTENCY
When stenciling with royal icing it is important to use stiff royal icing.
I use my favorite Fresh Lemon Royal Icing(using a meringue powder). If you can’t get meringue powder you can also use Liquid Egg White or Fresh Eggs to make Royal Icing. Both recipes are covered in my Royal Icing Recipes post.
- Place the stencil on top of the wax paper or parchment paper square
- Spread stiff icing onto a spatula or a spreader.
- Then holding the stencil in place spread the icing over the stencil.
- Smooth the top, keep a little room between the stencil and the spreader so icing layer is not super thin.
- Carefully lift up the stencil.
- Dust the wings with Edible Jewel Dust. Or use sprinkles instead. They are so fun! Let dry completely.
Create fun marbled designs. Use 2 or more colors.
I used this technique to create a butterfly decoration on 3D Easter Basket Cookies.
You can either draw directly onto the stenciled side ( it can be little uneven to the touch) or peel of the baking paper and flip the wings upside down. This side is nice and smooth and easier to draw on.
- Use edible marker and draw the lines. Try to not put too much pressure on the wings so they don’t break.
- Then using black piping consistency royal icing outline the wings.
HOW TO SHAPE BUTTERFLIES
- Peel off the baking wax paper. Cut the paper in half and fold in half.
- Pipe a thick line with black piping consistency on the crease line.
- Attach right and left wings.
- Carefully lift the wax paper and place the butterfly into the prepare shaping/drying tray. Let dry for 3 hours.
- If desired pipe another layer of black body. This step is optional.
I you have an airbrush, try airbrushing dry wings. It creates quite unique and dramatic effect.
It can be tricky to store royal icing butterflies already shaped, with the wings forming an angle. It is best to store the wings flat.
Royal Icing Butterflies can be made ahead of time. Store royal icing decorations in an airtight container, layered between sheets of paper towel.
I possible add food grade silica gel pocket to control the moisture, especially if you live in a very humid climate. You can also utilize rice, be sure to replace the rice once in a while.
TO MAKER ROYAL ICING BUTTERFLIES YOU NEED
- Fresh Royal Icing
- Royal Icing Recipes (using fresh egg whites or liquid egg whites)
- FIND ALL THE TOOLS IN MY AMAZON SHOP
- Cookie Decorating Tools
- Collection of Edible Markers
- Cookie Making/Baking Tools
- Piping Bags
- Needle Tool
- Stencil : Mylar Stencil Blanks, Exacto Knife
- Wax Paper or Parchment Paper squares
- Jewel Dust
- Luster Dust
- Lemon Extract
- Food Colors
- Airbrush Colors
- Edible Pen
- Cardstock : fold to make the drying tray
- Paper Towels
- Spray Bottle : use to dampen towel, it’s easier to wipe the tool into a damp paper towel
- ROYAL ICING CONSISTENCIES
- Piped Butterflies
- Use 15 second consistency to make the wing
- Pipe the body and details with piping consistency royal icing
- Stenciled Butterflies
- Use stiff royal icing to stencil the wings
- Pipe the body and details with piping consistency royal icing
- MORE BUTTERFLY IDEAS AND TREATS
- Butterfly Buttercream Cake
- Monarch Butterfly Cookies
- Pretzel Butterflies
- Butterfly Cookies for Beginners
- Fruit Butterfly Pizza
- Wafer Butterfly Cookie Bouquet
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