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 today!
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.
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:
- Make a batch of cupcakes. Any cupcakes will do!
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- Dip the frosting circle into chocolate sprinkles. This is the center of the sunflower.
- Begin piping petals!
Let’s watch a quick video so you can see how to pipe the petals.
Easier than you ever thought!
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.
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.
Here’s how to pipe the most beautiful flower design! These sunflower cupcakes are so much easier than you’d expect.
- 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.)
- Spoon 3/4 cup of frosting into a separate bowl. Stir in green food coloring. This will be for the leaves.
- Tint the remaining frosting with yellow and orange food coloring to obtain desired sunflower color. See my note below for what I used.
- Fill piping bag with leaf tip + yellow frosting. If you have a second leaf tip, fill a 2nd bag with leaf tip + green frosting.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Cover leftover cupcakes and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Special Tools: KitchenAid Stand Mixer | Cupcake Pan | Cupcake Liners | Piping Bags | Wilton #352 Tip | Americolor Soft Gel Paste Kit | Chocolate Sprinkles
- Food Coloring: 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.”