I used to be one of those people who scoffed at fancy cupcakes. Silly looking things…swirls of icing and wafer butterflies just made me roll my eyes. Then my daughter went to school – Good Lord the bake sales…the decorating…the detail…the rush of kids to the stand that have clearly never been allowed cake in their lives. I watched…from a distance…with wry (slightly patronising) amusement at it all.
Until the day came when my daughter was put on a restricted diet – no eggs, no milk. No chance of eating cupcakes from the bake sale, or a coffee shop.
And then the comments started… ‘eggless cakes are awful’, ‘not worth eating eggless cakes’, ‘you can always tell the difference’, ‘she can never eat a decent cake?’…all said within my daughter's hearing.
Well...time to roll up my sleeves then. I couldn’t leave my daughter standing at the cake sale table every Friday with nothing to eat. Couldn’t leave her to eat something that nobody else would touch with a barge pole. So off I went to the land of piping bags, nozzles and ready-to-roll icing. The odd bit of this story? I really enjoy it now (guilty grin). I love making cupcakes that look great; that the other kids ask for from choice – not because they have to have them as they are the only ones left. It’s great that I have to put aside a cupcake to make sure my daughter gets one before they’re all sold. So now I’m a born again cupcake decorator!
This week I decided to do a spring theme with grass and little flowers. Here’s how they look with some step by step instructions:
Make the standard buttercream frosting, but don’t add the milk, as you want a firmer frosting to work with. See here for the recipe:
If you want a more professional look then cover the cupcake with a thin layer of green frosting before starting. I use the gel colouring, as the liquid ones add too much moisture.
Get a small grass nozzle, fill your piping bag 2/3rds of the way up and twist the ends to keep the icing in the bag. I find putting the bag into a large glass, folding the ends over the glass and then filling the piping bag the easiest way to fill a piping bag without too much mess.
Now you are ready to create the grass. To achieve this gently squeeze the top of the piping bag until a little of the icing comes out of the nozzle. Using an ‘up/down’ motion create the grass in little clumps all around the cupcake. You really are bouncing along the top. Don’t worry about differing lengths of ‘grass’ – it’s the overall effect you’re after. I find moving from the inside to the outside best.
Now for the flowers. Take a small piece of ready-to-roll icing for each petal. Roll into a ball and place in the middle of a piece of cling film. Fold over the remaining cling film and using your thumb or index finger squish the ball to flatten one side down. When all the balls are done pick one up and roll it up. Then attach the next squished ball to the side to create a petal affect, then another, and another. It takes a few goes to get right and the petal sizes will depend on the size of the ball of icing. I get flower centres as I think they look nice and roll the first petal around them. I don’t take these to a cake sale for children as I’m sure a child will try to eat the wire! I then dip the created flower into some edible glitter so it looks pretty. Place the flower on top of the grass, or if you prefer you can put the flower in first and create the grass around it like I did in the picture.
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