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How to Frost a Cupcake

How to Frost a Cupcake

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Making a delish cake or cupcakes from scratch? Impressive! Being able to decorate it and add your own personal style and flair? That takes it to whole ’nother level. Whether you want to have fun and creatively decorate cupcakes with the kids or show off your artistic abilities for a special occasion, learning basic frosting and piping skills can turn you into a decorating dynamo. Here’s how:

GATHER YOUR EQUIPMENT
  • Pastry or decorating bags with plastic couplers
  • Decorating tip(s)
  • Baker’s Secret® Icing Spatula.
  • Rotating cake stand or lazy Susan
  • Cake or cupcakes
  • Frosting/icing

TIP: If you’re new to cake decorating and you don’t have the equipment, don’t worry! You can create your own by using a resealable plastic bag. Check out this handy tip from Real Simple.

BUILD YOUR BASE
  • To get started, make sure to chill your cake or cupcakes (frosting should be at room temperature). Place the cake on a rotating cake stand or lazy Susan, or hold each cupcake (one at a time, please!) in your non-dominant hand. Slowly and gently, using a straight icing spatula, smooth on a thin base layer of frosting. This will seal in the crumbs. Chill until the frosting is hard, about 15 minutes.
  • For cakes only: Next, coat the sides with a thicker layer of frosting. Hold the spatula parallel to the side and angle it slightly toward yourself. Use one hand to rotate the cake while you apply pressure to the sides with the spatula using the other.
  • Then add frosting to the top. Position the spatula across the top of the cake so it’s almost flat, but not quite. Rotate the stand as you apply pressure and spread the frosting. This will create a smooth layer. For cupcakes, it’s all in the wrist. Lightly grip the baking cup or liner and then gently spread and/or mound frosting to desired level. Chill the cake or cupcakes again, letting the frosting harden for about 15 minutes.
PREPARE YOUR PIPER

Start by snipping off the end of the pastry bag and sliding the coupler into the opening. Next, fill the bag with icing. Use this neat trick from Our Best Bites to make filling quick and easy, and save on cleanup time later.

GET A GRIP

Hold the top of the bag with your dominant hand. That’s the one you’re going to use to squeeze. The other is for “steering”—guiding the pastry bag.

HINT: Hold the bag straight up to write or make lines. Slant it when doing trim or designs.

TIPS AND TRICKS (TO TAKE YOU THROUGH THICK AND THIN)

From here on out, it’s all about creativity and practice. Mix in some food color, and start doodling!

  • Practice on parchment paper. That way you can scrape up the icing and use it again.
  • Not sure you can get it right on the first try? Use a toothpick to create your design and then simply trace over it with the icing. Or use your favorite cookie cutters to create outlines. No worries if you mess it up—just use your spatula to smooth it out and start over.
  • Once you’ve got the hang of it, get inspired! Check out Melissa’s cute and creative ideas at My Cake School.

Whether you’re celebrating someone’s birthday or just because it’s Tuesday, any day is good for baking a cake. And since practice makes perfect, before long you’ll be able to proudly say, “Look, ma, no crumbs!”

YOUR TURN: What other no-fail frosting tips have you learned?