When it comes to baking, one of the best compliments I receive is when I walk in with my hands full of baked goods and someone asks me what bakery I stopped at on the way. I am always happy to tell them that I did, in fact, bake everything from scratch. I usually get a somewhat puzzled look, since it seems fewer and fewer people these days actually do their own baking. I think that may be due partially to lack of time, but I think it is also due in part to the fact that people aren’t confident in their ability to pull off a batch of beautiful cupcakes or cookies.
So, for this week’s Works For Me Wednesday post, I thought I’d share my secret to perfect, professional-looking frosting for cupcakes. I’m always amazed how many people think that because a pastry bag is involved, it must be very difficult to get that pretty swirl of frosting on top of a cupcake. Here’s the thing… I actually think it’s MUCH easier to ice cupcakes with a pastry bag than with a spatula or a knife. The fact that they look like you bought them somewhere is just an added bonus!
For my cupcake frosting method, you’ll need a few simple tools… Don’t worry, they won’t break the bank. You can find everything at a local craft store!
- Pastry Bag – Either a cloth pastry bag or a disposable one will work. You can typically buy a large box of disposable bags at a craft store to keep on hand (and keep your eye out for the 40% off coupons that many craft stores include in the Sunday paper for an even better deal!).
- Star Tip – When frosting cupcakes, I typically use an Ateco 827 tip, but any star tip will do. I believe the Wilton 8B tip is a similar size, but has additional ridges on it… That one is probably easier to find at a local store.
Once you have the necessities, frosting cupcakes is quite simple. All you need to do is fit the pastry bag with the star tip. Then, use a rubber spatula (I find those spoon-spatula combos work quite well for scooping the icing) to fill the pastry bag with frosting. To stabilize the pastry bag while filling it, you can try setting it inside a large plastic cup. Only fill the pastry bag about half full and then gently push the icing down into the bag and twist the top shut.
For each cupcake, simple make a swirl of frosting with the pastry bag… no sweat!
- Keeping the tip relatively close to the top of the cupcake, begin piping out the frosting by squeezing the bag from the top while using your other hand to stabilize the bag (this is kind of like toothpaste… though, I am notorious for squeezing toothpaste from the middle). The bag should be straight up and down.
- Draw a circle of icing around the outside of the cupcake, moving your hands in a circle while keeping the tip close to the cupcake and the bag straight up and down.
- Once you have iced the outside of the cupcake, continue the swirl to the inside of the circle, filling in the middle of the cupake.
- Just as you finish the swirl of icing, push down slightly on the pastry bag in the middle of the cupcake. Then, as you stop squeezing the pastry bag, gently pull the pastry bag directly upwards from the cupcake.
Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? The more you practice, the easier it will get. Pretty soon, you’ll be able to frost a couple dozen cupcakes in just a few minutes. Plus, all of your friends and relatives will start to wonder where you bought those beautiful cupcakes!
Need a few recipes for cupcakes and frosting to get you started? Here are a few from my archives…
- Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting
- Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream
- Easy Peanut Butter Frosting
- Mocha Espresso Cupcakes
- Chocolate Carrot and Squash Cupcakes with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting