Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to pipe a cupcake swirl

Things are finally getting interesting! In the last two weeks we talked about how to prepare a piping bag and how to fill it, now we are finally decorating! If you only learn one cupcake decorating technique this should probably be it. I'm going to be showing you how to pipe a simple cupcake swirl, it sort of looks like a Mac Donalds ice cream. What I love about the cupcake swirl is that you can pile it as high or low as you like...or as high as you like, did I mention that? I have been known to have some very questionable ratios of cupcake to icing but if you ask me, there is nothing wrong with that! Bring on the icing!

You can use any tip (pretty much) for piping a cupcake swirl, generally though, the fatter the better. If you want that typical cupcake look you will want a large tip which doesn't fit onto the normal coupler (like the ones in the past tutorials) however, you can buy a large coupler. I've never bought one, don't ask me why. I just pop my large tip into my cotton piping bag and pipe away. This will also work in a disposable bag but you will end up stretching it eventually which means they won't last as long (I suppose they're not really meant to last at all, what with the name disposable and all!) Usually people refer to the 1M tip for cupcakes, that is because it is pretty much magic. Wilton name/number all their tips for easy reference and this is by far their most popular one. It is also used to make the famous rose swirl which I will be going through next week. If you don't have a 1M tip, any large star tip will do. Enough talk! Lets get into it!

Cupcake Swirl

How to pipe a cupcake swirl

You will need:
Piping bag fitted with a 1M tip or large star tip
Cupcake (duh!)

Start on the outside of the cupcake with your piping bag at a 90 degree angle.
Squeeze piping bag while gradually moving anti-clockwise around the cupcake, making sure that this is one continuous squeeze so the icing is not broken and using the same amount of pressure through the whole movement.
Overlap the edges of the line before until you reach the middle.
Stop squeezing and remove piping bag from cupcake.

This is such a handy cupcake decorating technique, I honestly couldn't tell you how many times I've used it! You can leave it plain with just a swirl like these vanilla cupcakes or jazz it up a bit with a fondant flower like I did for this anniversary and these Hello Kitty cupcakes. You can also make yourself a cupcake topper to decorate an otherwise plain cupcake. The possibilities are endless!

I know you're all excited about next weeks tutorial on how to pipe a rose swirl. You will be amazed just how simple it really is to achieve! In the mean time, have a fabulous week! As usual, leave me a comment or message me on Facebook if you have any questions or if you just wanna say hi (that would be super sweet, just sayin')


  1. Those cupcakes look so pretty, and I love the measuring cups. I just bought the large coupler after buying the Wilton 1M tip, not realising it needed the large coupler (I'd bought the regular size). The large coupler is gigantic! Almost obscene. Thanks for the tutorials, I found the first especially handy to refer to when my disposable bags and 1M tip arrived. I could clearly see I needed the large coupler and stopped trying to make the tip fit (somehow!) with the regular sized coupler. Cheers

    1. It is massive isn't it! I think I might get one, one day. But I'll buy a massive piping bag too.

      Oh I am SO happy that the tutorials are helping you! I find this kind of stuff so handy to know after years of trying crappy cake decorating tools that break after two goes.

  2. hi lydia..i'm anne and i'm from malaysia.. you know what..I'm just falling in love with your website. It's so awesome and really helpfull to me..please do not stop giving us a tips, recipies and etc..and i will recommend this website to my colleagues as well.

  3. Hi Lydia what a great website and blog thank you. Our daughter Kate is trying for the first time to decorate, she is 12 and tried to do the cupcake swirls but with Royal or water icing (water and icing sugar) and it just wouldn't work, kept losing the swirl shape then when we thickened it, it was really hard to pipe and still lost its shape. After looking at your tutorial I think is it best to use buttercream icing for doing cupcake swirls? We have a good piping bag and a 2M tip. Should we try again using your buttercream recipe and how thick should it be for the cupcake swirls? Thank you so much. Robyn and Kate Collins - Christchurch

    1. Hi Robyn,

      Yes use buttercream for decorating cupcakes like that. I usually go for about 200g butter, softened, then beat that, add 3 cups of icing sugar (sift it first) and then add whatever you want after that, like 1t vanilla essence or 1/2 cup of cocoa. When the mixture starts to get really crumbly and dry you just add 1T milk at a time until it reaches the consistency you need.
      I always say this is the safest way to make buttercream because you can always make it runnier if need be, but usually I use between 3-4 T milk. You want it to be quite firm so it holds it shape nicely.
      Good luck with the cupcakes, send me a photo on Facebook if you like, I would love to see!