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Basic Piping Techniques

Even the novice cupcake decorator can create boutique-bakery cupcakes with a pastry bag and tip. Get a little practice by piping designs onto a clean plate. When you’re ready to start decorating, the practice frosting can
be put back into the pastry bag and reused. Buttercreams and cream cheese frosting are the most forgiving
types of frosting to use for creating piped designs.

  • PLAIN TIP   A spiral of frosting, made with a large plain tip, is 
a clean, simple design. Start at 
the center of the cupcake and, applying even pressure to the pastry bag, move the tip in a spiral motion, working outward to the edge of the cupcake, then build upward, still moving in 
a spiral motion and piling the frosting on top of itself. Finish 
at the center of the cupcake.

  • CLOSED STAR TIP   To create a decorative fluted swirl of frosting, use a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip. Start on the outer edge of the cupcake, applying even pressure to the pastry bag, and work inward in 
a circular motion, overlapping 
the circles slightly and building upward, finishing at the center 
of the cupcake. Release pressure before pulling the tip away. 

  • LEAF TIP   A large leaf tip can be used to create a ruffled ribbon-like effect. With the opening of the leaf tip held in a vertical position, pipe the frosting, applying even pressure to the pastry bag. Use a zigzag movement to move the tip in 
and out from the center of 
the cupcake to the edge. Rotate the cupcake as you pipe to cover 
the entire surface with frosting. 

Adapted from Cupcakes, by Shelly Kaldunski (Weldon Owen, 2008).