Cupcake Decorating 101

Thank you to my boyfriend for taking these beautiful photos of my cupcakes from a recent class at Butter Lane. I took their “Cupcake Decorating 101” class, a basic how-to for piping.

I’ve been baking and icing cupcakes for ages, sometimes adding fun accents, but I had not done much in the way of serious decorating with icing. I’d never really learned the proper way to use a piping bag. At Butter Lane, the teacher and assistants were very friendly, helpful, and laid-back. I recommend taking a class with them if you have the opportunity.

We were armed with buttercream icing, food coloring gels, a pastry bag, and a variety of tips. After coloring our icing and filling our bags, they walked us through the use of each tip, and we practiced on waxed paper. We started with the basic “writing” tip (small round decorating tip), which is what I used to draw the heart on the cupcake above.

The most challenging for me was creating roses, which is done on a flower nail. The tip we used was about half an inch and had a flat, tapered shape (a Wilton #126 or similar). You start with a mound of icing on the nail, then add petals holding the wider end of the tip down and pulling out as you twirl the nail. Not easy! Challenges included keeping the icing on the nail–my freakishly warm hands heated it and caused the flower/mound to start sliding–and making the petals look, well, like petals. My three best efforts are pictured here.

The basketweaving was fun (see the blue cupcake with yellow flower), and I felt I did the other flowers (ie. no nail involved) rather well.

I admired my handiwork for about 24 hours, then started devouring them with the help of a friend or two. Yummy!

I love Butter Lane for having cupcakes that taste good in addition to looking good. I feel so many of the cupcake bakeries that have popped up in the past decade have lost their way a bit in that department. But that’s for another post…

5 thoughts on “Cupcake Decorating 101

  1. Amelie, you are amazing. Also, this blog made me hungry.
    Did you know I am shooting a series called (tentatively) “Praying for Control”….my small religious figures on top of cupcakes!!!! Maybe you need them on your blog. The only problem is I want to eat the props afterward. Also, I only have grocery store cupcakes, which are rather humble.

    Love your blog, and you,
    Aunt Kate

      1. P.S. I’m sure you make the grocery store cupcakes look great! My cupcakes above are so pretty mostly thanks to Jason’s photography skills. I can’t take credit for that!

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