It’s national cupcake week (although I’m one of those people who only wants to see the food version of cupcakes, I don’t want to see cupcakes on handbags, on plates, on pillows, on doormats, on goodness knows what else, just give me the cake) and I have a very suitable guest blogger for you. The lovely Ruth Clemens from the great blog The Pink Whisk who is currently starring on the BBC’s Great British Bake Off, is here to teach you how to ice a cupcake perfectly.How to pipe beautiful buttercream swirls on cupcakesThere’s nothing better than a beautiful cupcake with buttercream swirls. This tutorial will show you my tricks to pipe perfect swirls.First of all essential you will need your essential buttercream ingredients…. 250g butter and 500g icing sugar.Beat the softened butter with an electric mixer till very soft. To the bowl add in the icing sugar and 1 tbsp milk. Starting slowing (or you’ll have icing sugar everywhere!) beat together the ingredients.When fully combined you will have a lovely buttercream like this:
Consistency is the key, it shouldn’t be too runny but should be thick like whipped cream and hold its shape.
Now for the colouring. To recreate the vibrant colours you see in posh Cupcakeries you will need some gel food colours. Wilton does a set of 8 basic colours which you can get in Lakeland. They really are an investment and you only need a small bit to get a really strong colour – liquid colours won’t come close.You can also get the pots of gel colouring singly from cake decorating shops and market stalls – in every colour in the rainbow!
Colour the buttercream by dipping the end of a knife in the colouring and then mix it well through the buttercream. Now collect your piping equipment. You will need a tall glass or jug, scissors, piping nozzle, scissors and piping bags.Nozzles and bags come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I use disposable bags (from Lakeland yet again – I spend a fortune there!) mostly because I’m just a little bit lazy and I can throw them away when I’ve finished. Reusable piping bags work just as well. For the nozzles, all you need is a large tip with a star pattern tip. I am sure they have a proper name, but I don’t know it!
So ready to start, take the piping bag and snip off the end. Insert the nozzle into the bag and pull it right down to the end so it sits tight. Twist the bag just after the nozzle. This will stop any buttercream escaping until you’re ready to pipe.Pop the bag nozzle down into your tall glass. Fold the bag down over the rim of the glass. Now you can fill the bag using a spatula without having to have a million pairs of hands. Take the filled piping bag out of the glass, keeping the twist just above the nozzle squeeze the buttercream downwards and twist at the top to secure. Now you’re ready to pipe.Hold the bag with your right hand at the top twist and use your left hand to support the tip.Once you’re ready, untwist by the nozzle and squeeze the buttercream down so it just appears at the tip of the nozzle.Cupcake here we come…. Holding the bag vertically with the tip ½” above the cupcake. Choose a starting point at the outside edge of the cupcake. Apply pressure with your right hand on the bag, squeezing from the twist downwards, so that the buttercream starts to flow. Don’t pull or rush, let the buttercream do the work. Pipe around the outside edge of the cupcake and as you return to the starting point direct the buttercream just inside it and pipe in a continuous decreasing circle till you get to the middle. You are just gently guiding the buttercream in the right direction – let it do the work for you! Once you are at the middle hold the piping bag still, make a last little squeeze to the piping bag as you dip the tip downwards at the same time, release the pressure with your right hand and finally lift the tip off and away.
Beautiful swirled cupcakes!
. . .Huge thanks to Ruth for this fantastic post. This is something I’ve always struggled with, mine always ends up looking a mess, so I’m going to try this out at some point this week.
You can find Ruth’s fantastic blog The Pink Whisk here.Follow her on
And you can catch her on Great British Bake Off tomorrow,