Learning, Practicing, and Mastering the Basics of Cupcake Decorating | Lynn April | Skillshare
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Learning, Practicing, and Mastering the Basics of Cupcake Decorating

teacher avatar Lynn April, Self-taught baker and food photographer.

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction

      2:03

    • 2.

      Supply List

      1:02

    • 3.

      How To Practice

      2:21

    • 4.

      Practice: No Tip Swirl

      0:46

    • 5.

      Practice: No Tip Dome

      0:22

    • 6.

      Practice: No Tip Flat Top

      2:15

    • 7.

      Fitting Piping Bags with Tips

      1:55

    • 8.

      Practice: Open Circle Swirl

      0:36

    • 9.

      Practice: Open Circle Dome

      0:27

    • 10.

      Practice: Open Star (Ruffled) Swirl

      0:42

    • 11.

      Practice: Open Star Rosette

      0:31

    • 12.

      Practice: Open Star (Ruffled) Swirl

      0:41

    • 13.

      Practice: Open Star Rosette

      0:33

    • 14.

      Put It On Cupcakes

      3:37

    • 15.

      Your Project

      0:24

    • 16.

      Final Thoughts

      1:08

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About This Class

In this class, you will learn the basics of cupcake decorating and how to make really beautiful cupcakes, even without a lot of fancy equipment. This class is great for beginners, but can also be a resource for intermediate decorators who want to learn some new skills.

For this class, you will need, at minimum:

  1. One dozen cooled cupcakes
  2. Two (2) to three (3) cups of buttercream frosting
  3. A large piping bag or plastic bag
  4. A pair of scissors
  5. A small offset spatula

For more advanced techniques, it is advised to have:

  1. open star (1M) tip
  2. closed flower (2D) piping tip

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Lynn April

Self-taught baker and food photographer.

Teacher

Hi, I'm Lynn! I'm the owner of Fresh April Flours, a website where I share all of my favorite (mostly) dessert recipes. I'm a self-taught scratch baker who loves to make cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and bread, and I want to help YOU become a better baker, regardless of where you're starting. 

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Level: All Levels

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Lynn April recipe blogger at FreshAprilFlours.com, where you'll find all my favorite recipes from appetizers to sweets. But my specialty is most definitely dessert. I am a completely self-taught baker and I taught myself how to bake from scratch after graduating from college with a biology degree. My then boyfriend (spoiler alert, he's now my husband) was still in school and I needed a hobby for evenings and weekend. So I took a cake decorating class and my life was forever changed, even if it was a slow transition. I started my own custom cake baking and decorating business in 2011, but when it became too much to manage, I called it quits. It didn't take long for people to start asking me for all of their favorite cake and cupcake recipes. So I started my website in 2014 as a place to share those recipes with my friends and also branch out into learning how to bake more things. While I still love to bake cakes and cupcake, I also love baking cookies, yeast breads, and all kinds of other goodies. But mostly I love helping people learn how to bake from scratch and sometimes even make those treats look extra awesome. Blogging is now my full-time job. And while I will always cherish my 11 years at a lab bench, spending time with my family while getting to become a better baker and food photographer everyday is truly a gift. In this class, I want to help you learn how to create beautiful cupcakes, even if you have zero experience, zero fancy decorating tools or zero clue where to start with putting cupcakes and frosting together. Believe me, I was once where you are and it was unsure of where to start. And I have made some ugly cupcakes. Let me show you how to start with the basics and then I'll show you my foolproof method of practicing that will ensure you get the most practice you can before diving in and applying it to a cupcake. Are you ready? Let's do this! 2. Supply List: For this class, you're going to need cooled cupcakes, some buttercream frosting, a pair of scissors, a small offset spatula, a large or small rubber spatula. Any kind of tips that you might want to use. This one. This one is a round, open circle, a 1A tip. This one is an open star, or 1M tip. And this one is a closed flower or 2D tip. If you'd like to use a coupler, you can use one of those, too. You'll need a small cup, mug or bowl with a slightly flat surface for practicing. Some piping bags or a large zip top plastic bag and any kind of sprinkles that you'd like. Here I have white sanding sugar, white jimmies, and white non-pareils. 3. How To Practice: Before we really get into anything, I want to show you my favorite way to practice new skills that you'll learn today. It can be a little intimidating to go right into decorating a cupcake, so I like my students to practice as much as possible with a cup, mug or small bowl. Flip the cup or a mug over and use the bottom as a stand-in cupcake top. Cupcakes are typically about 2.5 inches in diameter. So choose a cup or bowl on the smaller side. You'll want to have your rubber special a handy so you can wipe off your work and start over. You can do this as many times as you need to until you feel comfortable enough to put it on a cupcake. This will also give you the ability to practice with different speeds, pressures, angles, and directions. I encourage you to put it all out there, make mistakes and mess up. The beauty of using something that isn't a cupcake is that wiping it off, screws up nothing. You have nothing to lose by piping and ugly swirl on a mug, right? Practice makes perfect. Even if it isn't perfect, you'll at least be a little more prepared when you go to pipe your first cupcake. I like to start teaching cupcake decorating with simply a plastic bag or ideally a piping bag without a tip in it. You can make some really beautiful cupcakes without a piping tip. So don't feel like you need a bunch of fancy tools to get the job done. In fact, I'm going to show you how to decorate cupcakes with just a small spatula if you don't even want to bother with a bag. In order to prepare your bag for piping, you'll want to snip off the end of the bag, start small because you can always cut off more bag, but you can't put bag back on. I like to start with an opening about a half an inch to three-quarters of an inch in diameter. Once your bag is ready, let's fill it. You can use your hands to hold the bag, or you can use a tall cup or glass, which is my preferred way of filling a bag. Fold the top of the bag over, then scoop three or four large scoops of frosting into the bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible, twist the top and squeeze the frosting all the way to the end of the tip before starting anything. 4. Practice: No Tip Swirl: We're going to start with a very basic swirl. Start by putting a medium-size dot in the center to give you some support, but also give you a guide of where to pipe. Don't worry about going all the way to the edge of your practice cup or Cupcake because you never want your frosting to droop over the sides of your cupcake. Having some of the cupcake top peeking out from under the frosting is ideal. You want to make sure to use your whole arm to swirl and you can use your free hand to help guide the tip. Squeeze with medium pressure and move with medium speed, stacking each layer on top of the one before it, and aiming for three to four rotations until you get to the top. Once you're at the top, stop squeezing, press the tip gently into the top of the swirl and release. 5. Practice: No Tip Dome: Next up is a dome top. This is a piping technique that I get a lot of compliments on, and it's actually quite simple. Start squeezing with medium pressure, then slowly pull up as the frosting comes out, moving in a very gentle circular motion. When you get to the top, stop squeezing, press the tip gently into the top of the dome and release. 6. Practice: No Tip Flat Top: Next up is a flat top cupcake. There are two different ways you can achieve a flat top cupcake. One is with a small offset spatula and the other is with a piping bag. To use a spatula, put three to four medium-sized dollops on top of a cupcake, then use the spatula to spread the frosting out just to the edges of the cupcake. Once the top of the frosting is mostly flat, turn your spatula 90 degrees, so it is now perpendicular to the cupcake and smooth out the sides. When the sides are smooth, use the edge of the spatula to scrape the excess frosting toward the center and across the top of the cupcake. Repeat this process as many times as you need to and be patient. You can also start this same technique by piping the frosting onto the cupcake first. This will give you a little more of a structured top to start with, but the process of smoothing it out will be the same. This is my favorite technique for flipping the cupcake over and dunking it into sprinkles. So if you're going that route, it doesn't need to be perfect. Like I said, take your time with this one. It can be tricky, but it can also be really elegant when done well. In the next section, we're going to fit our piping bag with a tip and do a lot of these same techniques. So grab your favorite piping tip and let get fancy. 7. Fitting Piping Bags with Tips: Whenever I use a tip and a bag, I always like to use a coupler, but it is not essential. A coupler is a two-part plastic insert that allows you to switch out tips, which I tend to do a lot of. So that's what I'm going to use in this demo. Whether you're using a tip or a coupler, you'll want to push that thing all the way to the bottom of the piping bag. Then score the bag with scissors where you want to cut the tip off. If using a coupler, you want to ensure the bag goes past the threads so you can attach the ring and hold the bag securely in place. If you're just using a tip, aim for about a third of the way up the tip to score the bag. Wiggle the coupler or tip back, snip off the tip, then squeeze the coupler or tip into the opening. If you're using a coupler, attach the tip you'd like to use, screw on the ring, and you're ready to go. Fill the bag with frosting, again, using your hand or a tall cup as a guide. Press out all of the air, twist the top and squeeze frosting to the edge of the tip. 8. Practice: Open Circle Swirl: For this next technique, we'll start with the same swirl we did without any tip, but this time I'm using a 1M tip or a large open circle to make my swirl. Start by putting a medium-size dot in the center to give some support, but also give you a guide of where to pipe, squeeze with medium pressure and move your whole arm with medium speed, stacking each layer on top of the one before it, and aiming for about three to four rotations until you get to the top. Once you're at the top, stop squeezing, press the tip gently into the top of the swirl and release. 9. Practice: Open Circle Dome: We can also use this same tip to make the dome top we did with just the corner of the piping bag snipped off. This is a really great technique for tiny cupcakes or for making swirls on top of a cake. Start squeezing with medium pressure, then slowly pull up as the frosting comes out, moving in a very gentle circular motion. Once you get to the top, stop squeezing, press the tip gently into the top of the dome and release. 10. Practice: Open Star (Ruffled) Swirl: The next technique is probably your most recognized cupcake swirl, which is what I refer to as the ruffled swirl. For this piping technique, I'm using a 1M tip or a large open star tip. And I'm using the same technique that I used for the basic swirl that we've done already. Start by putting a medium-size dot in the center to give some support, but also give you a guide of where to pipe, squeeze with medium pressure and move with medium speed, stacking each layer on top of the one before it, and aiming for about three to four rotations until you get to the top. Once you're at the top, stop squeezing, press the tip gently into the top of the swirl and release. 11. Practice: Open Star Rosette: The next piping technique is the rosette, and we're still using the 1M or large open star tip. This is one of my favorite piping techniques because it not only looks pretty, but it's also a great option for kids because it doesn't use a ton of icing. Start in the center of the cupcake and move in a circular motion. But instead of stacking the rotations just work your way out to the edge of the cupcake. Once you've covered most of the cupcake, stop squeezing and pull the bag away quickly to make a point. 12. Practice: Open Star (Ruffled) Swirl: Our next technique is the closed flower ruffled swirl, and we'll be working with a 2D or closed flower tip. This technique is essentially the same as the classic ruffled swirl, but since the prongs on this tip are closed, it creates a little more of a ruffled effect. In fact, you can even create more of a ruffle if you squeeze with harder pressure. Again, put a dot in the center, then squeeze with medium to heavy pressure and move with medium speed, stacking each layer on top of the one before it, and aiming for about three to four rotations until you get to the top. Once you're at the top, stop squeezing, press the tip gently into the top of the squirrel and release. 13. Practice: Open Star Rosette: We can also use the 2D or closed flower tip to make a closed flower rosette. This result looks the same as the 1M, or large open star tip rosette, but I just want to show you that you can get the same result from this 2D or closed flower tip. Start in the center of the cupcake and move in a circular motion. But instead of stacking the rotation, just work your way out to the edge of the cupcake. Once you've covered most of the cupcake, stop squeezing and pull the bag away quickly to make a point. 14. Put It On Cupcakes: Okay, let's put our skills to work! You've practiced, you've got your bags and spatulas prepped, you have your tips lined up and you're ready to go. This is also where you'll want to have any of the sprinkles, non-pareils, sanding sugar, or other decorations handy since those need to go on right away before the frosting starts to harden. I typically like to have little bowls ready and right next to me for easy access, I'm going to be using tips for all of these cupcakes. But if you've decided you want to decorate without tips, or just prefer the look of the piping techniques without a tip, go right ahead and decorate however you wish. For this one, I'm going to use my large open circle or 1A tip. So I'm going to start squeezing with medium pressure. Come up and out. There we go. Next we're gonna do some flat top cupcakes. And I'm going to start with my piped base. So pipe some frosting onto there. And then I'm going to grab my spatula, push the frosting out to the sides, and then we're going to turn the spatula 90 degrees and smooth out the sides. And then I'm going to flip this cupcake over directly into my sprinkles. And that one's done. Feel free to decorate your cupcake however you want with sprinkles, just remember to put your sprinkles on before your frosting hardens. So next, I'll do a basic swirl with the 1M or open star tip. Start with a dot in the center. And then stack our rotations and stop squeezing. And then we'll put non-pareils on this one. Just for some texture. Next, we're going to do the rosette with a 1M or open star tip. So start in the center and work your way out, not stacking your rotations. And then pull away quickly to make a point. And then I like to sprinkle these ones with a little bit of sugar just for some sparkle. If you want to put this on a mini cupcake, the technique is exactly the same. I usually just don't include the center part for support. So start your swirl and stack as you go. And at the top, stop squeezing. Look at that! Look at all these beautiful cupcakes. Now that we're rocking and rolling with our cupcakes and we can discuss your class project. 15. Your Project: Now it's time to talk about your class project and it's simple. Take a short video of you practicing your skills or decorating your cupcakes, or take a selfie with your newly decorated cupcakes. Now, upload your project. Make sure you're on your desktop or laptop. Go to your projects and resources tab at the bottom of this video and upload your project. Easy! 16. Final Thoughts: In this video, we learned all about how to decorate cupcakes from simple to elegant, from no tools to tools. Additionally, we learned the best way to practice our skills before putting actual frosting onto an actual cupcake. I'm really excited to see what you can do with your new skills. And even if it's a flop, I still want to see it. That's how we learn-- by making mistakes and maybe not the prettiest cupcakes at first. So please check back in with me as your skills get better, I'd love to see your progress from practice to final product. Also, please stay connected with me on social media. I'm on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Makes sure to tag your pictures and videos with the hashtag #bakingwithfreshaprilflours so I can be sure to find your bakes. Lastly, if you liked the video, comment and leave a review, let others know what you liked about this video and encourage them to jump in here and learn for themselves. Thanks for watching and thanks for trusting me to teach you about cupcakes. I'm looking forward to staying connected with you and watching your cupcakes skills flourish.