Thursday, April 05, 2012

Cupcake Decorating Part 2: Techniques

Earlier this week I covered the tools that I use to decorate my cupcakes. Below I describe the magic way I use these tools... Part 2: Techniques!

1. Make sure your cupcakes have thoroughly cooled to room temperature. To ice a warm cupcake results in sloppy melted icing. Alternatively, to ice a cupcake directly from the fridge can tear the cake and you have a crumby mess. Stick with room temperature.

2. Get your piping bag ready: take your bag, either insert your coupler and screw on the tip or push the tip through to the end. Now you need to fill with icing. The best way to do this is to use a spatula and a large glass/container/jar (like a beer glass or plastic container). Put the prepped bag in the container and pull the top edges down over the sides. This allows your bag to be stable and held open.

** something I'm realizing while I'm writing this is that I do this all with one hand and you might find an easier way with your fancy two-hands. By all means experiment!! This is just how I do it. Look up youtube videos for different ideas (I totally just spilled my biggest secret!).

Now you can use the spatula to scoop in all of your icing, using the edge of the container to scrape off every last bit. Once all your icing is in, pull up the edges of the bag and holding the top with one hand, use 2 fingers to push the icing further into the bag (like you would with a tube of toothpaste). It's helpful to do this over your glass/container in case you push out any icing. Squish the icing a bit with your hand to push any air bubbles up to ensure consistent piping. Once your icing is all pushed down, twist the top of the bag tightly and either secure with an elastic or fold it over and wrap your hand around. You can continue to use your glass/container to set your icing bag down as you work.

Here's a crappy phone picture of my piping bag pulled over a yoghurt container full of icing. Yes, my KitchenAid is baby pink.

Note that the bag is not that full, all the icing is just at the top and needs to be pushed down. 

3. Decorating: now that you have your icing ready to go, time to get it on the cupcakes. If you're using the 1M (open star) or 2D (closed star) tip as described in Part 1: Tools, you can do several things:
- make a giant swirl: start at the edge of the cupcake and swirl to the centre, keeping the tip 1/4" above the cake at a 90o angle to the cake (ie: straight up). Once you've made one full swirl and covered the cake, make a 2nd swirl starting a bit further in than the first swirl. This gives you that bakery mound that we all love.
- make a rose: are you ready for this? The rose is simply created by starting on the inside of the cupcake and swirling to the outside edge. Works best with the 1M tip.

2D tip used to make giant swirls 

1M tip to make pretty roses

I recommend practising on a plate or waxed paper. You can simply scoop your test swirls back into the bowl so there's no frosting wasted. There are a ton of different piping tips that you can use - experiment!

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