How to Frost Cupcakes Article -
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How to Frost Cupcakes

It's easy to add icing to your little cakes.

Frosting can be spread, piped, swirled and spiked to suit your fancy.

1. You can use purchased frosting to ice your cupcakes, or you can make your own.

  • Plan to use two to three tablespoons of frosting per cupcake (about 1.25 ounces/42 grams) if you're spreading the frosting.
  • You'll need twice that amount if you're using a piping bag (2.5 ounces/70 grams per cupcake).

2. We made a tangy cream cheese frosting to go with our banana cupcakes (see How to Bake Cupcakes and How to Make Frosting). To spread the frosting, a small offset palette knife is our favorite decorating tool--but a butter knife will work fine, too. Scoop up a generous dab of frosting and plop it in the center of the cupcake.

3. Hold the cupcake in one hand and the knife in the other. That will let you get a good view of the cupcake so you can spread the frosting evenly over the entire surface.

    4. Practice different frosting effects: you can make one big swirl pattern, a bunch of little wavy swirls, or spikes.

      5. If you like the look of piped icing, you'll need a pastry bag with a large star tip. To fill the pastry bag without getting frosting all over the bag and your hands:

      • Put the pastry tip in the bottom of the pastry bag. Set the bag over a tall glass or measuring cup and fold a three- or four-inch cuff over the edge.

        6. Use a rubber spatula to scoop frosting from the bowl into the bag. Fill it no more than two-thirds full; you can always reload the pastry bag with more frosting, but if it's too full you're likely to squeeze frosting out of both ends of the bag.

          7. Lift the bag out of the glass and twist the top to close. You can use a twist-tie to keep it closed, or you can hold the bag closed by keeping the twisted end under the palm of your hand while you pipe.

            8. To pipe frosting, you want the cupcake on a flat surface rather than in your hand.

            • Hold the main body of the pastry bag in your right hand (if you're right-handed), keeping the twisted end folded under your hand.
            • Rest the piping end of the bag on your left index finger for better control. You'll use your right hand to squeeze out the frosting, and your left hand to guide the pastry bag.
            • Start by piping a circle around the outer edge of the cupcake.

              9. Continue the coiling motion until you reach the center of the cupcake.

                10. Stop squeezing the pastry bag; pull the tip up while twisting your wrist to get a nice finished swirl.

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                Jul. 16, 2009 6:04 pm
                What beautiful pictures!
                Jul. 21, 2009 7:14 pm
                My cupcakes always come out flat. Like the ones shown in the presentation. How do you make them nice and round on the top, like the first ones in the email?
                Jul. 22, 2009 9:09 am
                You can either fill the cupcake pan with a little more dough, or you can compensate by piping the frosting with a bag and tip,which is really easier and less messy.
                Jul. 22, 2009 3:08 pm
                You're not filling the pans high enough. Just add a little more batter to each cup.
                Jul. 23, 2009 4:10 pm
                I love cupcake
                Aug. 11, 2009 2:20 am
                Hi, Can I ask why my cupcakes do not stick to the baking cups ? They look like they can fall off the baking cups anytime. Can help ? Thanks a million.
                Young Ju Ku 
                Dec. 9, 2009 3:58 am
                I'm a cupaholic~ I am so going to try these instructions^^
                Feb. 6, 2010 12:51 pm
                If the cupcakes dont stick to the cups it might be that you add too much oil
                Feb. 10, 2010 4:18 am
                I like the way the cupcake looks with the piping method.^^ I shall have to use it when I make Valintine's day cupckaes for my friends and family!
                Apr. 23, 2010 10:32 am
                I'm a beginner and I can always use advice on technique. Thank you!
                Jul. 6, 2010 6:13 pm
                if you don't have a BIG star tip on hand, can you cut the bag into a star tip shape?
                Jul. 23, 2010 3:58 pm
                wow! i am inpressed
                Aug. 2, 2010 8:51 am
                are there any tasty real butter, buttercream recipies that hold shape while piping? I need a great recipe for my kiddo's birthday party
                Aug. 27, 2010 1:33 pm
                My cupcakes and cakes come out a little dry. Is there something I can do to make them moist?
                Sep. 2, 2010 9:48 pm
                @Cathie Whenever I bake cupcakes, I try to reduce the fat by replacing the oil/fats with applesauce. Adding more applesauce adds moistness to the cupcakes. If you like a more creamy taste, add milk teaspoon by teaspoon, until you get the desired consistency for the cupcake batter. Hope this helps!
                Sep. 8, 2010 12:54 am
                SUSHANK, Try adding more confectioner's sugar. If it's too moist, it won't hold a shape and begin to run. Cathie, try a recipe that uses real butter, not margarine. I find that most cakes/cupcake recipes that use real butter come out moist and flavorful. I don't know if it helps, but I use my butter at room temperature. It's so creamy and easier to mix.
                Sep. 8, 2010 8:17 am
                @Sushank also try adding about a cup of sour cream or a box of jello pudding mix just dry to the batter.
                Sep. 8, 2010 8:20 am
                Oops my comment was meant for Cathie
                Sep. 8, 2010 12:18 pm
                When I bake my cakes I use skim milk instead of the water, that makes them very moist. The chocolate comes out wonderful. For piping your frosting, you can use any large tip for different effects. I am going to use a large round tip to make apples for my next cupcake project next week. Add a small brown stem in the center and a small green leaf. Cute!
                Sep. 11, 2010 3:48 pm
                applesauce can be used as a fat/oil substitute, but I would additionally substitute with some vanilla yogurt. I do use real butter for approx 50% of the fat called for, then I substitute the rest of the fat with a blend of applesauce/vanilla yogurt. Heavenly!
                Sep. 13, 2010 10:48 pm
                A tip for a not full pan of cupcakes...fill empty cups half full of water to bake. This will help make your cupcakes moist and to help bake more evenly
                Sep. 24, 2010 3:39 am
                Thanks for the beginner lesson on how to frost cupcakes using a pastry bag!
                Sep. 26, 2010 5:32 pm
                When I bake cupcakes they seem to be done, but then they get soggy on top. Should I be storing them differently?
                Oct. 4, 2010 2:09 am
                hi am a beginner to baking. tried the chocolate cup cake receipe, came out lovely! however, attempted cream cheese frosting with icing sugar and it melted after adding the icing it because my kitchen was warm?(i live in hot hot spore)or shld i not use the electric beater when making frosting ? any tips when making frosting so that it can be more solid/ fluffy like in your website?
                Oct. 17, 2010 3:47 pm
                I can never get my frosting firm enough for piping when it's always on the cake it's a little to moist I want it harder. What am. Doing wrong
                Oct. 26, 2010 9:18 am
                @ckdane: are you covering your cupcakes immediately after they are baked? If you are, the hot steam from the cakes will cause moisture and make them soggy. For best results, let the cupcakes sit in the pan for about 10 minutes after they are done, and then transfer to a cooling rack until completely cooled (about 1 1/2hrs). Then you can frost or store them in an airtight container immediately. @vidhya: first, cream cheese frosting should be made with room temperature cream cheese so that it is easy to mix. butter is also added so that should be room temperature as well. here's my fave recipe: 2 (8oz.) pkg cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened 2 cups sifted confectioners sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract In medium bowl, cream together cream cheese & butter til creamy. Mix in vanilla, then gradually stir in confectioner's sugar. For best results, put finished frosting in refrigerator to chill for a little just to stiffen up again. (Remember your cream cheese
                Oct. 26, 2010 9:36 am
                also remember to be sure the cupcakes are completely cooled. frosting any cake when it is not cooled will melt the frosting or make it soft.
                Nov. 23, 2010 10:46 am
                Cool! Did you know that you do that two times on the same cupcake if you want it too look really fancy?
                Feb. 10, 2011 9:23 am
                I am looking for that great frosting recipe that will pipe and taste wonderful. Devils food is my favorite cupcake flavor. So anything that would work well with that would be great! Thank you.
                Feb. 24, 2011 6:23 pm
                Sweetsherlock, I just made chocolate cupcakes (my photo) and topped them with a Chocolate Buttercream that I found on another site. It is very easy to modify the consistency of this icing. It was easy to pipe on my cupcakes but I can't say how well it holds up to heat or anything because I kept the cupcakes in the fridge until serving due to the sliced strawberries that I used on top.
                Feb. 26, 2011 10:31 am
                An awesome show to help you with your cupcakes or help with ideas is DC Cupcakes
                Feb. 26, 2011 10:31 am
                Sorry i forgot to mention, it is on the channel TLC.
                May 26, 2011 11:31 am
                Neat! I want to try the piping, they look so fancy and pretty. :)
                May 27, 2011 5:47 pm
                on the flat red velvet cupcakes, i make 3 different kinds and baked them all together. The red velvet were the only ones that baked flat. I used the same scoop for all 3 flavors. I don't understand what I'm doing wrong. I've tried 3 different recipes for Red V. and they all bake the same...HELP PLEASE
                Jun. 1, 2011 7:57 pm
                The baking cups that I pour batter in come loose after removing them from the oven. It seems to happen time after time. How you make a cute cupcake if the cup or liner is hanging loose. Someone give an idea I am at a loss.
                Jun. 22, 2011 12:28 pm
                Kayla, I have the same problem.I think that moisture gets between the wrapper and the cake as it cools, loosening the paper. I have to make 2 batches of cupcakes tonight for an order...I am going to back off a little on the liquids in the recipe, and see if that helps.
                Jul. 17, 2011 7:17 pm
                Buttercream Frosting 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!) Ideal texture should be like ice cream. 3-4 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar, SIFTED 1/2 teaspoon table salt 1 tablespoon vanilla extract up to 4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream Instructions: Beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the sugar doesn’t blow everywhere) until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add remaining sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time.
                Aug. 14, 2011 10:21 pm
                For fun try baking your favorite cupcakes in a short flat bottom ice cream cone. To make frosting that looks exactly like chocolate soft serve ice cream mix 1 (16 oz.) can ready made frosting with equal weight (16 oz.) Cool Whip. The frosting will look just like ice cream! Frost the cupcakes baked in the cones. My kids still remember me doing this for them and they are in their 30s. :) * Note-16 oz of frosting with 16 oz of Cool Whip will make a large amount of frosting. You can decrease the amount, just keep the proportion equal weight (not volume). You will have more Cool Ship as it is less dense than the frosting.
                Aug. 26, 2011 6:19 pm
                thanks alot! I always have hard time to pipe frostings! :)
                Sep. 4, 2011 9:41 am
                Any tips on making a piping bag if you don't have one?
                Sep. 16, 2011 7:13 am
                my daughter is getting married in December and we are saving money by making cupcakes ourselves instead of a huge cake and I have been freaking out over the frosting and how I could do it and have it not look horrible this solved my problem. Thanks for sharing :-)
                Jan. 20, 2012 6:59 pm
                Hi, Does anybody have a good recipe for A good frosting? I want a recipe that is light and fluffy, Not heavy & thick...Please Help.TY
                Feb. 8, 2012 11:03 am
                I'd like to know how to pipe the variegated frosting as shown in the photo with Rick's Special Buttercream Frosting. I haven't tried rick's frosting recipe yet, but with certain changes, it's getting rave reviews.
                May 11, 2012 8:39 pm
                Very helpful! My cupcake decorating skills are sorely lacking, so every little bit of info helps.
                Jun. 5, 2012 3:07 pm
                How can I decorate cup cakes for Red Hat ladies in a nursing home
                Jun. 26, 2012 10:38 pm
                Can someone tell me how to make the christmas tree cupcake I have posted as my member photo?
                Jul. 8, 2012 9:57 am
                How do you get your paper cupcake cups to come out straight
                Oct. 17, 2012 7:45 pm
                How long can you keep cupcakes (frosted) in the freezer? Also can you frost with cream cheese frosting and freeze well? This is for a wedding. Help.
                Feb. 14, 2013 3:19 pm
                This question is about my cakes and cupcakes. No matter what I do my husbands says my cakes are too dry. What can I do?
                Apr. 11, 2013 2:53 pm
                I am an avid cupcake baker. I use the old fashioned method of elbow grease and wooden spoon. I NEVER use an electric mixer on my baked goods. I have found that using buttermilk in my basic cupcake recipe makes the cake moister, bake more evenly and adds a velvety texture. Also, be sure to rotate your pan half way through cooking time to assure even baking. If a cake is moist on top most likely because it was stored before completely cooled. Baking is a hands on experience. Get your hands dirty and feel your batter. When creaming the butter and sugar together I use my hand this way you can tell if the butter is incorporated and if it is moist enough or to dry. Your hands will wash, don't be afraid to use them. :)
                Apr. 2, 2015 4:37 am
                I am trying to frost my cupcakes & the icing is sticking to the cupcakes. These are for a Easter celebration at work. What can I do? HELP!!'nnn
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