Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Cupcake Swirl

The cupcake swirl is a really easy decorating technique that will make you the go-to bake sale mom, or the best treat-giver in the office! Once you get the hang of it, you can create dozens of adorable cupcakes in just minutes.

What you need:
Standard or mini cupcakes
Decorators' Buttercream Icing, whipped icing or even canned icing will work
Piping Bag (disposable or reusable)
Wilton Tip #1M or Ateco Tip #821-828
-Bismarck Tip
-Additional piping bag

Fill the Cupcakes
If you wish, fill your cupcakes with a Bismarck tip. Using a thin filling – pudding, thinned icing, lemon curd, etc. – insert the Bismarck tip about halfway into your cupcake. Squeeze. Hold the cupcake in your hand to feel the bottom begin to “puff” as you squeeze the filling into the cupcake. You will cover the hole in the top with your swirl of icing.

Fill the Piping Bag with Icing.
You can use decorators icing, a whipped or meringue icing, even canned icing from the grocery store will work pretty well with this technique. I would caution against most ganache or even canned chocolate icings because they tend to be rather thin, and you won’t get a nice, tall, strong swirl. If you really want to use chocolate, I recommend a chocolate buttercream or whipped ganache.

Make the Swirl
Hold the bag straight up over the cupcake. Starting from the outside edge, squeeze with steady pressure while you move in a circle/swirl around the cupcake. Be careful that you’re laying the next “line” of icing slightly on top of the inside edge of the previous “line.” This will give you height. It will also help completely cover your cupcake with icing.

Common Mistakes
1- Start at the very outside edge, or you’ll end up with a lot of cupcake on the outside of your swirl.
2- Squeeze hard enough, and make your swirl so that each new “line” of icing rests on the edge of the line before it. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a snail instead of a swirl.
3- Keep your lines close enough together to cover the area where you began the swirl, or you’ll have a funny “tail” on the edge of the cupcake.
4- Keep your bag straight up and down. If it’s at an angle, you’ll notice that your cupcake swirl is very uneven.

Make the Peak
As you come to the center, begin to pull your tip further away from the surface, creating a peak. If you want a really high peak, once you’ve created your first swirl, begin about 1/3 of the way into the center of the original swirl, and make another swirl on top of the first.

I love adding sprinkles to swirled cupcakes. Little kids and, let’s face it, most adults love anything with sprinkles on it, so go nuts! Different sprinkles for different holidays make cupcakes an easy special treat. You’ll want to add the sprinkles shortly after decorating, or they may bounce right off of the icing if it’s already set up.

  • I prefer to set my cupcakes on my serving plate or in the carrier before I start swirling them. This saves time in the end, and you run less chance of smooshing the swirl with your hand or fingers when moving them. The exception to this rule is some unfilled mini-cupcakes. Those tend to want to come up with the icing when you’re making a swirl on them, so I often have to hold those in my hand
  • Know whether your filling or your icing needs to be refrigerated. You may need to keep cupcakes with ganache, curd, pudding or other fillings in the refrigerator.
  • Some tiered cupcake carriers hold the cupcakes very close to each other. Their levels are short. So, before you set the next level on top of your carrier, double-check that you’re not going to smash the swirl on your cupcake. (And make your swirls shorter next time.) 
Would you like to purchase a printable version of this tutorial for $1? Click here to purchase an easy-to-follow tutorial. The link will take you to Pay Pal, where you will enter your email address when you pay. I will then email you a .pdf version of the tutorial complete with photos and instructions.

Click the Links Below to See:
More Cupcake Decorating Ideas
Icing Recipes
More Basic Decorating Techniques and Ideas 

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  1. Awesome. thanks for the swirl lesson !!

  2. Awesome, thank you for the tips! :)

  3. Thanks for sharing. I can do this!

  4. Your tips are really helpful- thank you! ♡

  5. You're a hero!! I used to make cakes and cookies and most people requested fondant (which is terrible) so I started making cupcakes instead and though they turned out nice, I wish I would've had these tips when I first started out. You're really going to help soneone make beautiful cupcakes! Thank you!

  6. This was very helpful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge for us beginners.

  7. I see where I erred. Thank you.


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