Classic swirl cupcakes recipe

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makes: 12
Skill: easy
Cost: cheap
Prep: 20 min
Cooking: 30 min
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  • Wondering how to get those professional-looking swirls on top of your cupcakes? Goodtoknow’s cupcake queen Victoria Threader shows you how. The colour and toppings are up to you!

    Now you know how to make the perfect icing, why not follow our simple guide on how to make a piping bag to really let your creative icing decorations flourish.


    • 1 x
    • Basic buttercream:
    • 110g butter, room temperature
    • 500g icing sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 60ml milk
    • You will also need
    • :
    • Deep muffin tray
    • 12 cupcake cases
    • Piping bag
    • Open star-shaped piping nozzle (for best results use a Wilton 1M nozzle)
    • A dot of the food colouring paste of your choice (Victoria used Sugarflair's Claret)
    • Sprinkles to decorate (optional)


    • Add butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract and food colouring (if using) to a large mixing bowl, then beat for about 5 minutes with an electric whisk until smooth. Pour in the milk gradually if you need to loosen the mixture (you may not need all of the milk).

    • To pipe a swirl: When the cakes are cool, attach the nozzle to a large piping bag. Place the bag in a tall glass (pint or tall picnic glasses work well). Pull the bag down around the glass and fill the bag 2/3 full by pushing the buttercream down into the bag as you fill.

    • Lift the bag up from around the glass and, from where the buttercream stops, push all the air up out of the bag. Twist the bag right at the top of the buttercream and hold the twist between your thumb and forefinger.

    • Pipe a swirl by applying pressure to the top of the bag and starting in the middle of each cake, pipe a star by squeezing a star shape then releasing the pressure and pulling up quickly. Piping a star first makes sure the swirl doesn’t fall flat in the middle. Then starting at the outside edge of the paper case, pipe in a steady movement around the edge of the cake using the edge of the cake case as a guide. Pipe around the star and build up into a swirl. When you reach the end of the swirl press down slightly, release the pressure and pull up quickly.

    • After you have iced each cupcake, twist the bag again so the twist is always at the top of the buttercream.

    • Decorate with sprinkles.

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