Cherry Lady Birds and Honey Bee Cupcakes

Pirate Dreams
Posted on 05/17/2012 by cakecrumbs
On Tuesday the Zoology Department at my Uni hosted their Annual Bake-off. I've only been a post-grad for the last two years, so this is my second year getting to participate. It's usually a fantastic success and attracts a lot of bakers around the department. Last year I made the Dragon's Lair Cake for it and walked away with both Judge's and People's Choice awards. But this year the theme was limited to cupcakes and cookies. 

It took me ages to think of something different to make. Eventually I came up with this idea for the bees, and everything fell into place from there.

My first idea was of honeycomb-topped cupcakes with little bees buzzing around them. I was initially going to make the toppers hexagon-shaped and have them all join up to form a large hive, but in the end decided circular toppers were cuter. The toppers are made from white-chocolate, tinted with yellow powder colouring. The bees are made from fondant. 

I made a dozen in all, but it turned out that they were too tall for all of my cupcake carriers. I had to use other containers, so a couple got left behind. 

I had thoughts about making the second half of the cupcakes florally with bees perched atop, but in the end decided to accompany them with lady birds. 

It also gave me a chance to practise some fondant roses, something I haven't tried since the very first time I gave fondant a go. Those early fondant disasters taught me some very important lessons about what not to do with fondant. It's only in the last few months that I feel I've finally learned to control it properly, so attempting something I've been too shy to try was really therapeutic.

I embossed the toppers and the leaves and gave them some blossoms. I also gave the lady bugs antennae for the first time, but I think I prefer them without. 

These cakes were cherry and choc chip coconut cupcakes, topped with a swirl of vanilla buttercream and fondant decorations.

The bees were honey flavoured cupcakes, topped with vanilla buttercream and then finally the chocolate discs and fondant bees. 

The whole time I was baking, decorating, making fondant flowers while watching the football on TV and yelling at it, and photographing the end results, I had a little fluff ball staring really intently at the bees. He wanted to nom some.

Honey Cupcakes


125g butter
3/4 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups plain flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and line a 12 cup muffin pan
  2. Combine buttermilk, honey and vanilla in a small bowl and mix until combined. 
  3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Gradually add the wet and dry ingredients alternatively, stirring after each addition.
  5. Spoon into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool.

Cherry and Chocolate Chip Coconut Cake


125g butter 
1/2 tsp coconut essence
2/3 cup (150g) caster sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup (80ml) milk
1/2 cup (40g) dessicated coconut
1/3 cup (70g) glacé cherries, chopped
50g choc chips
1 cup (150g) self-raising flour
1/4 cup (35g) plain flour


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced) and line a 12 cup muffin pan
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Stir in milk, coconut, cherries and choc chips. Stir in flours.
  4. Spoon into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool.

If you'd like to see more photos of these cupcakes, find out which treats won the awards at the bake-off, you'll find it here at Cakecrumbs.
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givemethepen 17th-May-2012 06:24 am (UTC)
They're both adorable! I'd love to learn to do stuff like that with fondant but I don't have the patience for it...and I wouldn't want anyone to eat them if I spent that much time doing them! Haha. They look amazing.
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 07:54 am (UTC)
Thank you. :] Patience if definitely a prerequisite! I've no idea how many hours this took me all up, but it was at least a full day. I find it's actually therapeutic seeing people destroy them!

Except for the bees. This is the first time I thought they were cute, so I was a bit sad to see them go.
sashimi_salad 17th-May-2012 06:31 am (UTC)
So adorable! I love decorations like these! I wouldn't be able to eat them; I'd just want to look at them and frame them :)
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 07:55 am (UTC)
Thanks so much. I think a few people there shared your sentiment -- most people wrapped them up to take to show people, rather than eating them.
rugshd 17th-May-2012 07:17 am (UTC)
That's incredible, they look fake.
sunnie_star 17th-May-2012 08:31 am (UTC)
so cute idea and so well done!!
And the huskyyyyy! <3
journalprint 17th-May-2012 09:21 am (UTC)
I just wanted to say how wonderful these cupcakes look...well done! They are so gorgeous. My young children will love looking at them... especially as they are of an age where they are fascinated by mini-beasts (particularly ladybird bugs).

Thank you for posting the lovely work you do.
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 07:58 am (UTC)
Aww, thanks so much for such a lovely comment, and thank you for sharing them with your little ones.

It's my absolute pleasure. A few years back there were a lot more people posting this sort of stuff here. I'm a bit sad it's not as frequent.
kmazzy 17th-May-2012 09:36 am (UTC)
I am intrigued by the colouring of chocolate with magical powder! Also how did you make the honeycomb pattern?
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 07:59 am (UTC)
Powder colouring is the easiest way to tint chocolate cause you don't have to worry about it seizing. And the honeycomb pattern is from bubblewrap.
thirdbase 17th-May-2012 11:31 am (UTC)
Congratulations on the win! A two-fer! Your department-mates are probably hoping you graduate soon and leave room at the top for them!

Love both of these.
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 08:01 am (UTC)
Thanks! My Masters mates told me I have to go for a winning streak as long as I can now. I hope they let me stay to do a PhD haha. But there was so much lovely-looking stuff there I was surprised to win both the big awards again.
emkj3606 17th-May-2012 12:11 pm (UTC)
Those are possibly the most adorable freakin' cupcakes I've EVER seen. :-D
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 08:02 am (UTC)
Haha, that's a big call! There's a lot of amazing cupcakes out there. ;)

Thanks heaps. :]
roh_wyn 17th-May-2012 12:24 pm (UTC)
These are gorgeous! Can I ask how you patterned the honeycomb toppers?
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 08:02 am (UTC)
Thank you! The toppers are patterned with bubblewrap - easiest way, even if not the most accurate.
doc__holliday 17th-May-2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
Beauiful! I need to seriously sit down and learn how to decorate a cake properly!
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 08:03 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)

I said the same thing about 2 years ago, and then I got addicted to the hobby! It's so much fun.
aome 17th-May-2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
How did you shape the honeycomb?

I envy your creativity and talent. So adorable!
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 08:04 am (UTC)
It's from bubblewrap. :)

Thanks! I assure you it's all practise - no talent required. ;)
suzie2qute 17th-May-2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
OMG, these are adorable!
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 08:04 am (UTC)
Thank you. :)
tsuki_no_bara 17th-May-2012 03:50 pm (UTC)
the bees and honeycomb toppers are so cute! and the leaves and flowers are really pretty. i love that all the cupcakes are slightly different on top. (and i think the ladybugs are adorable with their little stubby antennae, but i get why you might not want to make them that way next time.)

no wonder your dog was watching you intently the whole time.... :D
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 08:06 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, that's so nice of you. Glad you liked the antennae! I expected to like them more, I guess maybe they look more like bear ears. Will have to experiment!
ellig123 17th-May-2012 05:34 pm (UTC)
These are brilliant and so are all of the ones in last year's post (I'm an animal biologist) :)
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 08:07 am (UTC)
Thanks! That's really cool! Are you studying, or working in the profession?
love_spent 17th-May-2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
wow this is really well done!
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 08:07 am (UTC)
Thanks so much. :)
beauty_plea 18th-May-2012 01:15 pm (UTC)
This is perfect! I have a baby shower approaching for a friend and the theme is bumble bees! This is exactly what I'm looking for! Question on the honey comb chocolate (genius, by the way!) did you let the chocolate cool slightly before you poured it on the bubble wrap? I feel like just melted chocolate would melt the plastic, but it obviously worked for you!
cakecrumbs 18th-May-2012 01:56 pm (UTC)
I always temper the chocolate so it's a bit cooler. But in the past I've done just melted chocolate. I have the best quality bubble wrap, though. I'm not sure if that makes a difference.
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