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.
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.
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)