An Australian Modern Christmas

The Butterfly Cake and the iconic Butterfly House

As the festive season approaches and our minds turn to pudding (not to mention our bodies after days of over indulging), it got me wondering how we could all add a touch of Australian Modern design to our holiday menu this summer. And with this challenge before me, I set out to find the ultimate modernist culinary treat. My first stop was Majorie Miller’s 1950’s cookbook ‘Menu Magic’, where I was transported through time as I sat marvelling at each and every kooky culinary concoction. Well who’s mouth would’t be watering at the thought of ‘moch fish’ or ‘prune and bacon rolls’? But Majorie is never one to disappoint and on page 82 I found the holy grail of my modernist quest in the form of a humble, but architectural cupcake which bore an uncanny likeness to Chancellor & Patrick’s iconic Butterfly House (see pic above) built in 1956.

So was this humble cupcake the inspiration for one of Victoria’s classic modernist homes? As I look at the photo of the little house perched on a hill in Dromana, then back at the photo of the Butterfly Cake, I think it unlikely, but hey this is Christmas and if we can believe in Santa, then why not believe that a cupcake could inspire a house design. So let’s get down to business and see what’s involved in making Butterfly cakes. Fortunately, the ingredients are basic, but you will need a metric convertor if you are not using vintage measuring jugs. the Old Aussie Recipes has an easy to use metric conversion chart and there are also a bunch of smartphone apps that will do the job.

You can also add natural food colour if you want to brighten them up a bit, but the most important thing is you must use good quality freshly whipped cream. A variation on the theme is using lemon butter instead of cream. Both taste fantastic! Below are the recipes, so if you feel inspired get your apron on and get baking. Who knows, it may even bring out the modernist architect in you.


For more information on Chancellor and Patrick, check out

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