Cupcakes are such a treat and it’s easier than you think to decorate them with pretty icing designs. Just follow my instructions and you’ll be icing like a pro in no time.
Start by making sure your cupcakes are completely cool and ready to ice. Make a buttercream icing (see my new summer annual A Free Range Life: Celebrate Summer! for recipes).
Fit a 1M or 2D icing nozzle in the tip of a piping bag. To fill the bag hold the tip end in one hand and roll down the top of the bag inside out over the lower half of the bag in your hand. Start to fill the bag with icing, pushing the icing down as you go to avoid air bubbles. Fill the piping bag only about two-thirds full so you can twist the top of the bag to close it – you don’t want it spilling out the top when you start to squeeze!
When piping, apply even pressure to the piping bag with one hand and keep the top of the bag twisted closed with the other hand. Top up the bag with more icing as you go if necessary.
If you’re making cupcakes for a special occasion it’s always a good idea to make a couple of spares so you can practise getting the icing perfect, or you could practise by squeezing some out onto baking paper. Once you feel confident, scrape the icing off the paper with a spatula and pop it back into the top of the bag.
To make a hydrangea icing design, pipe tiny flower shapes over the surface of the cupcake by squeezing in bursts and lifting the piping bag away entirely between bursts. Start around the edge and move inwards until the whole surface of the cupcake is covered.
For a two-tone effect, divide the icing between two bowls and stir a few drops of a food colouring of your choice into each bowl to achieve your desired shades. Fill the piping bag with the two colours, side by side. Squeeze a little onto a plate until you see both colours emerging and ice as above.
To make a rose icing design, if any cupcakes are peaked in the centre, use a sharp knife to take
a slice off the top to make a level surface to pipe onto.
Start piping icing onto the centre of the cupcake and, moving slowly, loop around this centre point, working out towards the edge of the cupcake. Depending on the size of your cupcakes, you might need one or two circles to complete the rose. Release the pressure on the piping bag before you lift
it up to avoid a peaked effect at the end of the swirl.
For a two-tone effect, divide the icing between two bowls and stir a few drops of a food colouring of your choice into each bowl to achieve your desired shades. Place one batch of icing in the piping bag. Squeeze the sides of the bag together to ensure that icing is covering the surface of the bag interior. Open up the bag, make a hole in the centre and fill it with the second batch of coloured buttercream icing. Ice as above.
There are lots of toppings you can use to glam up your cupcakes even further.
Sprinkles, nonpareils, lollies, edible glitter, liquorice, spun sugar and chocolate shavings also make fun cupcake toppings. Just don’t overload them – your delicious cake and icing should be the focus.
I'd love to see your creations – please do share your photos on my Facebook page