Beach Cottage Cakes and Styling

Thu 20th, Nov, 2014

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how to make butterfly cupcakes abeachcottage

Hellooo, well, as you know I recently teamed up with Canon to blog a little bit about how much I love having found photography as a hobby through starting this blog, and I have to tell you that, over the years, apart from floral, home and beach photography, I’ve loved learning about food photography, I do love to spend a bit of relaxed time fiddling around with images and food styling.

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So when I got the opportunity to go to a food photography workshop with Canon for their Change your Lens Change your Story campaign I was there like a shot.  I got to head over to the other side of Sydney to see some Aussie food photography experts at work – I always think it’s really interesting to see how other people take photos, and not just in theory but to actually see it all in action – there’s always loads of little tips and tricks to pick up, I always learn something as I am so far from an expert – I just picked up a camera a few years ago and have been on a self-taught journey ever since.

butterfly cakes chocolate recipe abeachcottage.com

At the workshop first of all we listened to how a few different people who style and photograph food go about their work and then we got to see it and watch them doing their thing…I learnt a few new ideas and the next thing I made which happened to be lovely chocolate butterfly cupcakes got the treatment.

abeachcottage food photography

food photography styling abeachcottage.com

These butterfly cupcakes are one of my favourite little cheat-y secrets – you know when you have to make something that looks a bit special, you want to be all domestic goddess like and don’t want to buy a cake, but you want to present something as if you have spent time on it?  This would be those cakes.

These are simply a very easy cupcake with the top chopped off and then the best frosting in the world ever recipe stuffed in the top – if you can cut the top off of a cupcake (sheesh did I mention you could actually buy the cupcakes if you really were pressed for time), lob on some super quick icing and slice a bit of cake in two, then you can do this.

butterfly cakes abeachcottage.com

For the food photography I used the Canon EOS 70D camera and a few lenses (the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Portrait Lens and the Canon EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5.6 IS STM Landscape lens) – basically this means I used the 50mm f/1.4 Portrait lens to get nice close ups of the food and the 10-18mm wider landscape lens to get everything in and show a bit more of the food styling.

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The biggest tip from the workshop was gathering your props to tell a story and manipulating the light, now I think I have already picked up the light thing a few years ago when I first started taking pics of food…it didn’t take me long to work out (after pictures of food that, let’s put it this way, did NOT want you to eat them) that taking pics near natural light takes the whole game to another level…a really different level…so I pretty much always go here by the light at the front of the house and I gathered a few things that I thought might be nice to go with the cupcakes to tell the story (I used the Canon EF-S 10-18mm F4.5-5.6 IS STM for these on a nice wide angle to get everything in…)

how to make butterfly cupcakes abeachcottage


Next up is foofing, we know I love to foof, I know you like to foof, we know foofing is part of this blog, funny at the workshop they didn’t call it foofing though.  They were pretty serious about the importance of foofing though in food photography, I was in total agreement…

chocolate fairy cakes recipe abeachcottge.com

chocolate butterfly cupcakes fairy cakes how to bake abeachcottage.com recipeSo some foofing – getting the bits and bobs in place, choosing a few of the props and moving them around until it all feels right…I like to start with a nice plate and work from there – some layers, a bit of texture, sprinkling a few things and adding a few extras…here it is starting to take shape…because I wanted to frame the shots a little tighter I swapped from the EF-S 10-18mm Landscape, wide angle lens to the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Portrait lens (this Portrait lens is great for when you want to blur out the background and really make your subject pop).

how to bake butterfly cupcakes abeachcottage.com chocolate fairy cakes

And here we go with the butterfly cakes looking all pretty, using the 50mm lens on this I loved how it turned out, it’s one very nice little lens that’s for sure…easy to work with, lightweight and the results are good…

butterfly cakes chocolate recipe abeachcottage.com

This is my easy chocolate cupcake recipe below, you just cut it up and add icing…

Chocolate Butterfly Cupcakes Recipe

100g milk chocolate

125g butter softened

1 cup water

1 1/4 cups brown sugar

3 eggs

2 cups self raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup cocoa

1. add the water and chocolate to a saucepan and combine over a very low heat, stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the mixture is smooth (this will be quite watery, that’s ok) & set aside to cool

2. beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy

3. add the eggs one at a time and beat the mixture well in between each egg

4. stir in the flour, cocoa and baking powder to combine

5. pour the batter into individual baking cases (this batter is very runny, don’t worry it’s fine)

6. bake 180C 20 minutes

I used this recipe for the Best Chocolate Icing in the World ever – once the cupcakes are cool, simply slice off the top, cut in half, pop your icing on the cake and pop the sliced tops back on as the butterfly wings and dust with icing sugar.

So yep that’s me and my Canon and the food photography journey I have been on – I said before though that you reading this might not be looking for a camera to take photos of food with, but just want to know what’s a good camera (and I always get asked that through this blog)…so basically I love my Canon gear (I can’t speak for any other brand, it’s all I’ve used) and if you are in the market for a new camera and like me are just a regular old bod trying, dabbling and enjoying taking pictures of pretty things and you want a recommendation, I do not know heaps but I do know that I’ve been really happy so far with what I’ve got and it’s not all the time I can say that ;)

Cheers lovelies


If you want to learn more about Canon and the lenses I used you can find more information on the Canon Australia website

how to make butterfly cupcakes abeachcottage



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19 Responses to “Beach Cottage Cakes and Styling”

  1. Who doesn’t love foofing :) I would love to enjoy afternoon tea in your sunny loungeroom – looks lovely!

  2. I so think foofing should be a part of their next training session – I totally understand what that means!!

  3. Louise Thomsen says:

    What a great experience! Thank you for sharing what you learnt in the workshop! Love the sound of those cakes too! Louise x

  4. merilyn says:

    as you know sarah, I love foofing just about as much as you! … those cakes look gorgeous and your photography is great! … always good to learn something new though!
    thankyou … love m:)X

    • merilyn says:

      your book could be called “sarah’s foofing” or “sarah foofs”;0 and then it might get into the dictionary! … I love the word! I tell everyone! mr calls me a foofer or foofette! cheers m:)X

    • Sarah says:

      love it, love foofette xx

  5. Mb says:

    How cool is your life??!?!!?

    I live my dreams through your lens.

    Thank you!!!!!

    We got 12 feet of snow dumped on us today. And my sister and I were neck deep in it……loads of fun!!!!


  6. Mb says:

    Proud to be in the “foofette” club.


  7. Fiona says:

    Love my canon and lens also. What a great opportunity for you Sarah. Right up your alley. Love the photos of the cupcakes from above

  8. I could take pics of food all day every day…oh hang on…I kind of do!!?! ;)) So much fun!! Love these little cakes too!!! Xx

  9. Ingrid says:

    Please excuse my ignorance (probably because I don’t live ‘down under’!), but what exactly does ‘foofing’ mean?

  10. I’ve been thinking about taking my photography to the next level and have been checking out the Canon website a bit lately. How awesome to have been able to go to that workshop. Lucky girl

  11. seriosioy thinking about another lense, I have 18-300mm currently. What lenses do you have and what order did you buy them in? I’m trying to decide which one comes next for me. I also have canon 70D. Thx

  12. janita says:

    Love my Canon Rebel ! Much more to learn though. I just have a couple of lens. 18-55mm and 55-250mm. Definitely want to be a member of the foofette club. I feel a bit silly taking pictures of food before anyone can eat it but just need to do it. Thanks for sharing the tips. I’m going to be foofing even more now! Always blessed by the Beach Cottage attire. Janita