Decorating Cupcakes Part 1: The Pastry Swirl

“Oh this is soooo easy.” I am tired of hearing people tell me how easy recipes are to make. I have even done it to you! I do not think anything is really easy when one has to take into account the grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning up, and for some of us with kids underfoot. Many of us work 40+ hours per week on top of it all. I created these videos in hopes of showing you a few pieces of equipment I use not so much make things “easier,” but to simplify the task and give us professional looking cupcakes. Easy would be purchasing cupcakes! If you are a seasoned baker, these videos are not for you, these are geared toward the person who may be wanting to try their hand at cake decorating for the first time and just need that extra push. Hopefully by the time you have watched all five videos, you will say, “I can do that!” I will not do anything extraordinary like little doggies or kitties- I don’t know how anyway, or raise the bar too high, you have other parents in the school to make you feel like a schmuck, and wow do they enjoy doing that too. With too much “fancy” going on and lack of time, it is no wonder we run to the local bakery. To follow along with me, you will need some cupcakes, buttercream frosting, a 1M star tip (found at Michael’s or at your local cake supply shop,) and 10 or 12 inch disposable pastry bags- also at Michael’s.

Buttercream Frosting
1 pound powdered sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
2-3 T. milk
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl using your stand mixer or hand mixer, beat all ingredients together until smooth and spreadable. Do not make it too soft or your frosting will not hold its shape when you pipe it onto your cupcakes.

1. Always make extra buttercream, at least 3 batches. Why? With using the 1M tip, more frosting is required and extra frosting freezes beautifully, saving you time with the next batch of cupcakes.
2. If you are still a bit intimidated, try practicing your pastry swirls on waxed paper first, the frosting can be easily scraped back into the bowl and reused. I used to watch my Ma practice over and over again on waxed paper until she got the technique down perfectly. Its just sugar, don’t let it beat you up!
3. It may be time to finally purchase a kitchen scale. It is best to weigh ingredients when baking.

You know, I have always been intimidated by all the beautiful cupcakes I see each day on other blogs, but when I discovered the 1M decorator tip, I decorate confidently now. So can you.

See my pretty necklace? It’s my logo, made by my friend Sarah of Paper Trail Gallery. She would be happy to make you one too! Or anything you want for that matter.

Big Red Kitchen Youtube Channel

Related Posts:
The Rose
The Rainbow Cupcake
The Inside Out Cupcakes


  1. Greg and Donna
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 10:04 AM | Permalink

    Great video! Katie & Amy are starting cake decorating classes tonight! They are excited and their Daddy is ready for the goodies!

  2. Sabrina
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 10:35 AM | Permalink

    This is soooo great. I have a feeling I will be making cupcakes by the end of the week 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to show the basics.

  3. Karen
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 12:53 PM | Permalink

    Great video, Robin Sue! I don't make cupcakes ever, but I'll be helping with my granddaughter's 5th birthday this summer, so I'm going to practice with a pastry bag!

  4. Mimi
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    Great video!

  5. Biz
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 5:13 PM | Permalink

    Can't wait to watch the video – I could have used your help decorating my daughters birthday cake yesterday!

    Hope you had a great weekend! 😀

  6. Anonymous
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    I had to decorate a cake today. I find that folding your decorator bag over a tall glass, then filling it with the frosting makes it easier to do. I also have found that when I lay the bag down, it is less of a mess if I keep it standing in the glass. I had 3 bags/3 glasses going today and most of the frosting stayed in the bag rather than my kitchen floor. Ma

  7. A Year on the Grill
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    I am in the process of making my own birthday cake just this minute. I have my frosting made (almost the same recipe), and all set.

    Me, I have problems decorating. My wife does it beautifully, but I have a cake in mind and it's my birthday so don't care if it doesn;t work (in my mind's eye it is done and it is spectacular!)

  8. Kelly
    Posted March 7, 2011 at 6:55 PM | Permalink

    Thank you so much for this post. I have to make 24 cupcakes for a baby shower this weekend and I am definitely going to go out and buy this tip!!!

  9. grace
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 6:18 AM | Permalink

    i agree that one should always make extra frosting, but for a different reason: in a word, snacking. 🙂

  10. oneordinaryday
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    I've never frozen buttercream frosting but I will from now on. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your videos, Robin!

  11. Kelly
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    Robin Sue, I went to THE WALMARTS today to buy the 1M tip and I couldn't find it! Is it something you have to special order or can you get it at Michael's??

    Thanks so much!

  12. Robin Sue
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 9:24 PM | Permalink

    Hi Kelly,
    Try Michael's, that is where I found mine. Have fun decorating all those cupcakes!

  13. Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes]
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 5:46 AM | Permalink

    Great video, Robin! I've spent countless hours trying to figure these techniques out, I sure wish a video like was there to follow at that time!

  14. Heather from CFC
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 8:13 AM | Permalink

    Robin,thanks for the video! I didn't even know they sold disposable bags. I tried it this weekend, and it was so easy! Faster than frosting cupcakes with a knife. Kids even got in on it.

  15. heather
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 9:45 AM | Permalink

    Fyi. . . They have that tip at joann's and the bags are in a white box.

  16. Robin Sue
    Posted March 16, 2011 at 4:15 PM | Permalink

    Avanika- I am pleased you liked the video, thanks for your kind words! Avanika, you make beautiful cakes, I remember that you took many classes and practiced often. My stuff is so beginner compared to yours!

    Heather! So good to hear from you. Thanks for the tip- the tip being at Joann's that is;-)

  17. Annie
    Posted April 22, 2011 at 9:49 PM | Permalink

    I didn't notice the necklace the first time I watched the video….I was too busy looking at those amazing arms you have. What inspiration. Thanks for all the great recipes and tips…love your site.

  18. Robin Sue
    Posted April 23, 2011 at 6:40 AM | Permalink

    Annie- Thanks!

  19. Guest
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 11:22 PM | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing this information with us!

  20. Leilani
    Posted September 18, 2012 at 1:01 AM | Permalink

    I agree with your tips and I have tried some of it. I usually visit to see some cool and fun cakes that I can try to bake.

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