A ladybug cupcake cake is a fitting dessert to celebrate spring or serve at any potluck, casual party, or kid's birthday celebration. It's colorful without being garish, simple to prepare and serve, and requires almost no clean-up. It's also a cake that's easy to adjust to your own skill level with decorating. If you don't have much time or artistic ability, it's not tough or time-consuming to make. For an extra challenge, you can also spend more time and creativity on it.
How to Make a Ladybug Cupcake Cake
You'll need a few basic supplies for a ladybug cupcake cake:
- At least a dozen cupcakes
- 2+ c. red buttercream icing
- 1-2 c. black buttercream icing
- Flat spatula
- Spoonful of white buttercream icing or two round white candies
- Piping bag, coupler, and round frosting tip (optional)
- 1 piece pull-and-peel black licorice (optional)
Before you begin decorating, bake the cupcakes and let them cool. Cut off any especially rounded, domed tops with a serrated knife. All of the cupcakes should be approximately the same height.
- Arrange all of the cupcakes except two in a large circle or oval, leaving a little hole at the top for the reserved two cupcakes, which you will put in later. Each cupcake should have enough room to stand flat and not curve toward any other cupcakes, but the cupcakes should all be touching at their widest points. If you need to transport the cupcake cake later, make sure that you arrange the circle on a sturdy piece of cardboard or large cake board that you can pick up and move. It's also not a bad idea to secure the bases of the cupcakes to the board with dabs of buttercream.
- Prepare your red buttercream frosting by tinting it to the right color if you haven't already.
- Using your flat spatula, pick up several large dollops of frosting and place them on top of the cupcakes in the circle. Don't worry about getting an equal amount of frosting on each cupcake. When you've scooped at least a cup or two of frosting onto the circle, spread it around with the flat spatula, coating each cupcake evenly in a thick layer of icing.
- Briefly refrigerate or freeze the cake until the red frosting feels slightly firm.
- Fit the two reserved cupcakes into the hole at the top of the circle. Those two dots will be the ladybug's head. Top them with a glob of black buttercream, and use your flat spatula to smooth out the frosting and join it evenly at the edges with the red frosting.
- Use a piping bag and round tip or your flat spatula to add large black dots to the ladybug's back. Finally, pipe or scrape a straight line of black frosting from the ladybug's head to the bottom of the circle, bisecting the body.
- Add two white candies or two round dollops of white buttercream frosting for eyes.
- If you'd like, arrange the pull-and-peel licorice as antennae and legs for your bug cake.
Cupcake Cake Tips and Variations
A cupcake cake is not difficult to make, but it can seem tricky if you've never prepared one before. To save time and stress, keep the following tips and ideas in mind:
- Your design doesn't have to be perfect. If your cupcakes form more of a lumpy, nebulous shape than a circle, it won't matter. As long as you decorate with red and black frosting, people will recognize what your cake is supposed to represent.
- Consider frosting all of the cupcakes with a very thin layer of buttercream to act as "glue" and draping the cupcakes with a thick layer of red fondant. Cut out black fondant dots and a black fondant head for the bug.
- If you're tinting your own buttercream, make sure you have enough red dye on hand to get the desired shade of frosting. A few drops may make a vanilla buttercream look pink instead of red, which isn't the most suitable color for a ladybug.
Create the same ladybug cake look and theme with a round cake if making a cupcake cake doesn't appeal to you.