Piping the perfect buttercream swirl can be the most satisfying thing, but if you’re new to piping cupcakes it can be hard to know exactly where to start; what piping nozzles do you need, how do you hold the piping bag, which swirl is the best?
In todays post I’m going to go through everything you’ll need to know, along with some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Cupcakes & Buttercream
OK, so before you start piping your swirls your going to need some cupcakes. Here you’ll find recipes for my Vanilla cupcakes and chocolate cupcakes too. When baking your cupcakes you want a small evenly domed top, this will be the perfect base for your swirl.
If you find that you get quite a peak in the center of your cupcakes, a little like a volcano, you want to reduce the temperature of your oven. This is happening because the top of your cupcake is baking a lot quicker than the inside, so as the inside is expanding the mixture has nowhere to go and explodes out of the center.
Secondly you’re going to need a good buttercream recipe. When piping swirls or buttercream flowers I always tend to use American Buttercream. The consistency is soft and creamy but not runny. American buttercream also crusts over slightly meaning the swirls will hold their shape.
You can find my American Buttercream recipe below with lots of tips and tricks to make the perfect consistency for piping. ⇩
Choosing the right Piping Nozzles
There are so many images of beautiful buttercream swirls on the internet and it can be hard to know which piping tip / nozzle creates which effect. If your looking to invest in your first set of piping nozzles I would suggest the 2D and the 1M. You’ll find that most piping nozzles have a reference number and even if you’re buying different brands the piping nozzles are the same. In my opinion the 2D and 1M are a must for anyone looking to create beautiful buttercream swirls.
The 1M is an open start tip and gives a real classic ‘Ice Cream’ swirl, whereas the 2D is a closed star tip and gives the prettiest ruffle swirl. This is also the piping nozzle that is used to create a classic rosette swirls where instead of starting from the outside you start from the inside, but we’ll get to that.
One piece of advice when buying piping nozzles for cupcakes is you want quite large piping nozzles. There are a lot of companies that sell sets filled with small piping tips. These are traditionally used for piping intricate royal icing designs on cakes. When looking at piping nozzles for cupcakes these usually measure around 5cm in length and have a large 2.5cm round opening at one end and then around a 1cm star or circle opening at the other end.
Another thing to remember when choosing piping nozzles is that with just one nozzle you can create so many different effects. Check out this video below where I compare the 1M and 2D piping nozzles, but as well as comparing a traditional swirl I show you how you can create at least 8 different effects just from these 2 nozzles. Also you’ll see in the video that by changing the speed that you pipe, you can also change the swirl too. The slower you work the piping nozzles around your cupcake the more ruffled your swirl will be!
Piping a Buttercream Swirl
So you’ve got your cupcakes and buttercream ready, and it’s time to pipe your first cupcake. The first thing you want to do is pop your nozzle into your piping bag. I always tend to use 12inch disposable piping bags (I’ll put a link to the ones I use here). I find this size piping bag is perfect. You may need to refill your piping bag depending on how many cupcakes you’re piping, but this is better than using a huge piping bag filled with so much buttercream that as you’re piping your hands are heating this up causing your buttercream to get too soft.
So I just snip of the end, pop in my piping nozzle and pull the piping nozzle tight. You’ll see in this photo I also have a tall glass at the side. I always use a tall glass to hold my piping bag still as I fill it with buttercream, this works perfectly!
Once your piping bag is filled with buttercream you want to twist the end to stop your buttercream from coming out. I then hold this behind my thumb. When piping your swirl you want to apply a small amount of pressure to the end of the bag just using your hand to guide the piping bag round slowly.
If you want more stability when piping your swirl you can use 2 hands, placing your other hand a little further down the bag, but you want this hand just to guide, rather than squeezing out buttercream.
To pipe your buttercream swirl you want to start at the edge of your cupcake, bringing your buttercream around the edge, close to your cupcake case. Once you get back to where you started, bring your piping bag in slightly and go around again, creating a smaller swirl this time that sits on the edge of the previous swirl. Again when you get back to the start go around again, until you get to the center of the cupcake. You can then stop applying pressure and pull the piping bag away to give the perfect buttercream swirl.
Sometimes it can be a little easier to watch a cupcake being piped to see how it’s done. Check out one of my most popular videos below showing cupcake piping techniques, this shows everything I mentioned about in action.
The Rosette Swirl
You’ve perfected the classic swirl, so now it’s time to mention the rosette swirl. This is one of my favourite swirls as it resembles a rose in the center of your cupcake. If you’ve already watched the 1M vs 2D video above you may have seen me pipe this. Instead of starting at the outer edge of your cupcake and bringing the buttercream around the edge of your cupcake case, you start in the center, effectively doing a classic swirl in reverse.
Usually the rosette swirl is created with the 2D piping nozzle, but this type of swirl has become very popular using more chunky piping nozzles, giving a more modern feel to the cupcakes. Below is a video that you might find useful for showing different piping nozzles you can use for a rosette and the effects they can create.
Experiment with your swirls
Once your feeling more confident piping your buttercream swirls the most fun thing to do is experiement with the type of effects you can create. Instead of using one colour buttercream, why not add multiple colours into your piping bag to create a rainbow effect.
Plus why not start experimenting with different shaped nozzles. There are so many piping nozzles available and they create such different effects, meaning the different design of cupcakes you can create is endless.
I really hope this post has been useful if you’re looking to start piping your own cupcakes. These techniques can also be used on your cakes too. A fun boarder of buttercream swirls around the top of your cake just looks so pretty.
If you haven’t already checked out my YouTube channel you can find lots more piping techniques tutorials there.
Some useful Tools
I have put a list below of some of my favourite cake decorating tools for piping cupcakes:
Piping bags: https://amzn.to/2WdT5dt
Wilton 2D piping tip: http://amzn.to/2xqSpQN
Wilton 1M piping tip: http://amzn.to/2zRsJyl
Wilton 1M & 2D set: https://amzn.to/3wrKDHn
Raspberry Colour Splash: https://amzn.to/2XSvYF2
Cupcake Cases (similar): https://amzn.to/30cKY0O
Plus take a look at my favourite cake decorating tools here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/shop/cakesbylynz
~ Please note that the links above are affiliate links. If you click the link and purchase any item through that link, I will receive a small commission from the website but this does NOT add any additional costs to you. Thank you so much for supporting this blog x ~
Plus why not save this tutorial for later and pin it to Pinterest