My Life in 10 dishes: A Food Biography – #1 Butterfly Cakes

At the end of July, The Sydney Morning Herald online published an article called “Write your own food biography: My life in 10 dishes”.  You can read the entire article here.  In short it was about writing your biography in food.  It didn’t have to be good food, just food that evoked memories from childhood to present; food that symbolised significant events in your life.  Being rather obsessed with food and culture, this article really hooked me in.  I’m going to write my biography in 10 dishes but instead of just writing a list and the memory or event that each dish evokes I’m going to blog each dish.  It’s REALLY easy to pick the first dish; Butterfly Cakes.  These cakes define most of my childhood birthday parties.  My mum, GroovyGranny, made these cakes from her school recipe book which was released by an English  flour company called Be-Ro .  I don’t even need to close my eyes to remember the taste of the buttercream and the gritty texture that it had in my mouth.  In those days fresh cream wasn’t the norm in cakes; certainly not the cakes in our family LOL

The photo above was taken in January 1971; it was my 5th birthday party.  Groovy Granny made my dress and I wore a penguin brooch.  GroovyGranny is a woman with many strings to her bow but finding a decent hairdresser is not one of her talents   😯    looking at that fringe.

There’s GroovyGranny in the background in the white top and orange pants working at the stove in the kitchen.  GroovyGranny would have made EVERYTHING on the table and somewhere amongst that fare are butterfly cakes.  I remember that day quite well; we played pass the parcel, musical chairs and bust the balloon which I hated because quite frankly I’m not into busting a balloon with my bum!

Most of the foods that I loved from childhood made their way into my adult cooking repertoire but for the life of me I can’t understand why I never made these for either of Misses17 or 20!  Anyways, I’m fixing that oversight now.  GroovyGranny still has the Be-Ro recipe book from the 1940s-50s which says to make the buttercream with margarine and sugar however the latest update from Be-Ro states you can use butter or margarine and exchange the sugar for icing sugar.  I chose to use butter and icing sugar; as much as I loved the buttercream as a kid, the thought of the gritty sugar doesn’t thrill me as an adult.

To make the ‘Victoria Sandwich’ cake mix you’ll need:

100g margarine (I used a good quality ‘straight from the farm’ unsalted butter and let it sit out of the fridge til soft)

100 g caster sugar

2 medium eggs

100g self-raising flour

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 190C.

Cream the butter/margarine and sugar until the mix turns from yellow to white and is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time and about 3 tsp of the flour and beat well.  This will stop the mixture from curdling or separating.  Add the rest of the flour and fold it through using a spoon.

Half fill 18 small paper cases and bake for about 15 minutes.

When the cakes are cool cut the tops off and then cut that circle in half to make two ‘wings’.

I didn’t have small paper cases so I used the muffin sized ones and made six cakes.

While I was doing the photoshoot for the butterfly cakes, Miss17 came home and after we’d finished taking the pics we each had one for testing purposes.  And then we had another and before I knew it… we ate all of them  😯

and they were GOOD…just as well there were only 6!

So that’s my #1 food in my food biography?  How would you define your life in food?

PS.  Why not download the printable recipe for butterfly cakes and give it a whirl?

9 thoughts on “My Life in 10 dishes: A Food Biography – #1 Butterfly Cakes

  1. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing the info about the article and your first recipe. Love the old photos and am excited to look at this idea myself!

  2. You were a lucky girl!
    Coming from a home with such a poor cooking tradition, I used to hang around with kids just like you in the hopes of party invitations to tables groaning with cupcakes, honey joys and chocolate crackles.
    Tragic, really.

  3. Oh this is so lovely! I totally want to do something similar at some point! And goodness, you’re good at taking food photos that make me veeeery hungry!

  4. Oh, they look AMAZING Suzi.. I loved buttercream when I was a kid too. I must admit I’m still not adverse to it, probably because it reminds me of my Grandma – never a bad thing 🙂

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