Addictive Recipes from a Self-Taught Baker

Sunflower Cupcakes + Video

How to pipe sunflowers onto cupcakes! Sunflower cupcakes recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Welcome back to the Monthly Baking Challenge!

We’ve been lucky to live near a few breathtaking sunflower fields and at the end of every summer, I make a point to visit at least once. Sunflowers are the epitome of happy and, like I mentioned yesterday, the world needs a little happy comfort right now.

So let’s pipe some SUNSHINE onto cupcakes this month!

How to pipe sunflowers onto cupcakes! Sunflower cupcakes recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

In between all of these monthly baking challenges, I challenged myself to something in particular this year: decorating cakes and cupcakes. Piping intricate designs has never been my forte, but I vowed to improve my skills (or lack thereof) in 2017. I started out easy with basic piping tips and you can read about how to use each of them in this post, along with a how-to video. I gravitate toward those 5 basic piping tips because they’re simple, inexpensive, and pipe beautiful designs. Back in April, we chatted about piping two-toned roses. In fact, that was April’s Baking Challenge recipe! Since then, I’ve really gotten my feet wet in cupcake and cake decorating.

What I’m trying to say is this: once I began playing around with different piping tips, my confidence immediately shot up. It all started with the courage to TRY. Once extremely intimidated by cake and cupcake decorating, I was pleasantly surprised with how EASY it was/is to create beautifully decorated confections. And I think you will be too!

Trust me, if I can pipe roses, swirls, and sunflowers– so can you.

How to pipe sunflowers onto cupcakes! Sunflower cupcakes recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Sunflowers! Let’s do this.

Here are the tools you’ll need:

You only need 1 piping tip. The same tip produces the sunflower petals AND the cute green leaves!

Here is the break-down:

  1. Make a batch of cupcakes. Any cupcakes will do!
  2. Make a batch of vanilla buttercream. You want a very sturdy frosting that will hold the detailed petal shape. I strongly recommend the vanilla buttercream recipe below.
  3. Tint the frosting two colors. To get these exact colors, I used Americolor gel coloring. For the golden yellow, 3 drops of the “lemon yellow” color and 1 drop of the “orange” color. For the green, 1-2 drops of “leaf green.”
  4. Add a circle of golden yellow frosting in the center of the cupcake. You can use a knife or just use the piping tip and swirl it around to get a circle.
  5. Dip the frosting circle into chocolate sprinkles. This is the center of the sunflower.
  6. Begin piping petals!

Let’s watch a quick video so you can see how to pipe the petals.

Easier than you ever thought!

Sunflower cupcakes on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Just dunk the center into chocolate sprinkles. Alternatively, you can tint some frosting brown to create the center 🙂

Always start on the outside edge. Adding layers of petals creates a realistic depth.

How to pipe sunflowers onto cupcakes! Sunflower cupcakes recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Like I mention above, use my sturdy vanilla buttercream recipe below. It’s similar to my regular vanilla buttercream, but I add a little more confectioners’ sugar to make it a bit thicker and more stable. The petals can be quite intricate and have a tendency to “wilt” if the frosting isn’t stable. I strongly encourage you to use my vanilla buttercream recipe below. As for the cupcakes, pictured here are my simply perfect vanilla cupcakes. You can use any cupcake you love most. For something different, how about spice cupcakes, chocolate cupcakes, or apple spice cupcakes?

It definitely took a couple tries to find my rhythm. Cupcakes 1 and 2 appeared as though I was blindfolded while piping. By cupcake #3 I got into my groove! My 2nd batch was even better! Batch #3? Consider me a sunflower pro! Or something like that. (My neighbors ate a lot of sunflower cupcakes this past month, including the uglies. Oh my gosh the ugly cupcakes not ugly neighbors!!!!)

My #1 tip? Take your time. Pipe slowly. This isn’t a race!

And when it all comes down to it– just have fun. Each cupcake will look better than the last. Practice makes perfect.

 

How to pipe sunflowers onto cupcakes! Sunflower cupcakes recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

If you’re not into today’s recipe, here is the alternate September Baking Challenge:

After you made the baking challenge recipe or alternative, share your photos throughout this month using #sallysbakingchallenge on Instagram or email me, tweet me, or upload a photo of your recipe to my Facebook page or Facebook group.

Sunflower Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups (600g) confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • salt, to taste
  • yellow, orange, & green food coloring (I use Americolor gel coloring)*
  • chocolate sprinkles
  • 12-14 baked and cooled cupcakes

Directions:

  1. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy - about 2 minutes. Add 5 cups confectioners' sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add another Tablespoon of cream if frosting is too thick. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. (I like 1/8 tsp salt.)
  2. Spoon 3/4 cup of frosting into a separate bowl. Stir in green food coloring. This will be for the leaves.
  3. Tint the remaining frosting with yellow and orange food coloring to obtain desired sunflower color. See my note below for what I used.
  4. Fill piping bag with leaf tip + yellow frosting. If you have a second leaf tip, fill a 2nd bag with leaf tip + green frosting.
  5. Pipe or spread a circle of frosting in the center of the cupcake. My cupcake centers are about 1.25 inches in diameter. Dip into chocolate sprinkles.
  6. See video above for a visual of this step. (It's hard to explain perfectly!) Start on the outer edge of the cupcake. Pipe yellow petals all the way around, lifting the piping tip in an upwards direction. Pipe a second layer closer to the center/on top of the first layer. Pipe a third layer of petals right against the center of the sunflower. Pipe any additional petals to fill any gaps, then pipe a couple green leafs on the edges.
  7. Refrigerate cupcakes until ready to serve. Cupcakes are fine at room temperature for a few hours, as long as they have been refrigerated for a couple hours after frosting/assembling. (The time in the refrigerator helps the petals hold their shape before serving.)
  8. Cover leftover cupcakes and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipe Notes:

To get the exact colors I have in these photos, use Americolor gel coloring. For the golden yellow, use 3 drops of the "lemon yellow" color mixed with 1 drop of the "orange" color. For the green leaves, 1-2 drops of "leaf green."

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© Sally’s Baking Addiction. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

SHOP THE RECIPE

Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.

KitchenAid Stand MixerCupcake PanCupcake LinersPiping Bags | Wilton #352 Tip | Americolor Soft Gel Paste Kit | Chocolate Sprinkles

 

Some of the links above are affiliate links, which pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you! Thank you for supporting Sally’s Baking Addiction

How to pipe frosting sunflowers on cupcakes and cakes! This method is so easy and I'll show you how to do it! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

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25 comments

  1. These are so cute, can’t wait to make them!

  2. Sally, these are absolutely adorable! I think we’ll be making these as a family project to kick off our favorite season!

  3. These are definitely happy cupcakes & yes the world could use a whole lot more happy!

  4. Sunflowers are my absolute favorite and have come across several living out here at the Lake since I’m surrounded by Dairy Farms! These are absolutely gorgeous and the video makes the piping look super-simple….Thank you for the demo! Have a great and RELAXING Labor Day Weekend, Sally!

  5. Oh! What are your thoughts on the “parchment” liners? Better than the regular paper ones? Can you buy them at a craft store? I’ve never seen them before?

    • They’re my favorite. Grease-proof and never stick to the cupcake or wiggle loose from the cupcake. They’re high quality for a nice price! I’ve seen them at most major grocery stores in the baking aisle. 🙂

  6. Beautiful as always Sally! Love from Houston.

  7. Love these,  I’m going to try a mini version since I’m hosting a high tea for charity and need sweet Lettie’s.  Hopefully they turn out just as pretty.

  8. These look adorable! It’s a cloudy day – these sunflower cupcakes made the day feel brighter! I’m excited to take on the baking challenge!

  9. I’m so excited to try these.  I think I just need to buy the leaf piping tip.  

    Have you been to the Sunflower Fields in Baltimore?  I really want to make a trip and visit one this Fall.   And I always love your props, but NEED to know where you got that plate from, Pier 1?!?

    • Hey Patricia! The plate is from the Pioneer Woman line at Walmart 🙂 I’ve been to a few sunflower fields all around Baltimore– absolutely stunning.

  10. My original comment autocorrected I need sweet petites not sweet Lettie’s, lol.  I am worried though a smaller version will be trickier to pipe

  11. These looks so pretty and happy. I’ve had piping bags and tips forever and I still haven’t mustered up the courage to try. This baking challenge might just be the thing to get me to it.

  12. Wow! These sunflower cupcakes are absolutely beautiful. This looks a bit too technical for me to try but I love the creativity on display here.

  13. Alright, I’m obsessed. These just make me smile like an idiot just looking at them! The perfect little goodbye to sweet summertime!

  14. Adorable! Had sunflower cupcakes at a wedding last week- they used crushed Oreos instead of chocolate sprinkles in the middle. Delicious either way!

  15. These are very cute Sally – I’ve had cupcakes on the brain lately too. Hope you have a relaxing long weekend!

  16. Sunflowers are the happiest flowers and these cupcakes are adorable! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

  17. These are absolutely beautiful Sally. Very creative.
    I need lots of practice to do this!
    Thanks for sharing!

  18. Hi Sally! I love it! The cupcakes look amazing. I want to try it with you Chocolate cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting. Do you think that would work?

  19. These are super cute Sally! You’re so talented 🙂

  20. I got everything today to make these. I love sunflowers! I’ll let you know how it goes. 

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