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Don't fork out loads for a wedding or birthday cake! Woman's Weekly's Sue McMahon shows us how to ice beautiful cupcakes in a step-by-step recipe video. Plus see your questions answered in the comments below.
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.
Video recipe: Piping Italian meringue cupcake buttercream
Ingredients: - Basic cupcake recipe - Italian Meringue buttercream, coloured as required - Large disposable piping bags - Large petal piping tube, eg Wilton No. 123
1. Cut off the end of the piping bag and insert the piping tube then fill the bag with buttercream. The petals are piped in 3 layers. The petal piping tube has a thicker side and a thinner side. The thin side needs to be kept outwards, with the thicker side in the centre, and the piping tube needs to be kept almost parallel to the top of the cake. Start in the centre of the cake and press gently to squeeze a petal which goes out just over the edge of the paper case. Turn the cake anticlockwise and pipe the next petal close to the first one. Repeat to completely cover the edge of the paper case. 2. Starting at the centre, pipe another row of petals, slightly shorter than the previous layer. 3. Pipe a third layer of petals in the centre of the cupcake, to give a very small flower shape with four or five petals.
Making the butterflies (about 70-90)
Ingredients: - 200g packet white flower paste, eg: Squires Kitchen Sugar Florist Paste Cornflour, for dusing - Powder dusting colours, eg: Squires Kitchen Professional range of Dust Food Colours, Bridal Satins, Pastels and Metalic Lustres in yellows, pinks, blues, lilacs and gold - Rose water: alcohol based, eg: Star Kay White - Aluminium foil - Smooth plastic board and small rolling pin - Butterfly cutters, eg: PME Set of 3 veined plunger cutters - Cocktail stick, optional - Baking parchement - Soft paintbrush, for dusting - Fine point paintbrush, for painting
1. Take a length of foil and fold it to give 4 thicknesses, and then form it into an "M" shape. Knead some of the flowerpaste to soften it, keeping it well wrapped in a plastic bag all the time that it's not in use, as it dries out very quickly. Only work with a small piece at a time, because the more you work it, then the quicker it dries out. Dust a little cornflour on a plastic board and roll out the flowerpaste so that it's very thin. Press the cutter into the paste and press down firmly on the plunger to emboss the paste. Lift the cutter up, with the butterfly in the cutter, then peel away the butterfly from the cutter and place it in the foil former to dry, preferably overnight. 2. On some of the butterflies, the outer edge of the petals can be rolled using the tip of a cocktail stick to ruffle them before they are placed in the foil former. 3. Working on baking parchment so that the plastic board doesn't get stained with the colours, use a dry soft paintbrush to brush the powder colour on to the dry butterflies, colouring both the front and back of the wings. 4. Mix some of the lustre colours and metallic gold colour with the rose water and paint detail onto the embossed side of the butterflies. Leave the colours to dry. Taking care not to scald yourself, hold each butterfly carefully in the steam of a kettle, until the surface just looks shiny, this helps to set the powder colour and make it appear slightly more vivid, but don't hold it in the steam for too long, or the colour of the painting will run and the wings may soften.
Stockists - All the items that we've used (or very similar) can be purchased from Squires Kitchen; call 0845 22 55 671 or visit squires-shop.com (opens in new tab) - Wilton petal-piping tube and PME butterfly cutters, Knightsbridge PME: call 020 8590 5959, or visit cakedecoration.co.uk (opens in new tab) - Large disposable piping bag ("Get a Grip"), from Lakeland; call 01539 488100, or visit lakeland.co.uk (opens in new tab) - Star Kay White Rose Water, from Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco.
Where to next?
Make the basic cupcakes to go with this recipe Try all of our video recipes Get more recipes from Woman's Weekly magazine
- 300g (10oz) caster sugar
- 5 large egg whites
- 500g (1lb) unsalted butter, softened
- Pinch of salt
- Few drops of vanilla extract
- Paste food colourings in pink, violet, yellow and orange
- Sugar/jam/candy thermometer
- Pour 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) water into a saucepan and add 250g (8oz) caster sugar. Place the pan on the hob and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to the boil. Use a damp pastry brush to wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. Boil the mixture rapidly, without stirring it, until it reaches 121°C. Have a large bowl of cold water ready for step 3.
- When the syrup reaches over 100°C, whisk the egg whites until stiff, preferably using a table-top mixer. Gradually whisk in the remaining caster sugar.
- As soon as the syrup reaches 121°C, remove the pan from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into the bowl of cold water, to prevent the syrup from getting any hotter. Only leave the pan in the water for a few seconds - if it's left too long, it will be too thick to pour.
- With the food mixer on full speed, gradually pour in the syrup in a thin stream, taking care to pour it between the edge of the bowl and the whisk - if it's too close to the edge of the bowl, it will set there and won't get mixed in properly; if it's poured over the moving whisk, then it will splatter out of the bowl and make a mess. Continue whisking the mixture for about 8-10 mins until the bowl feels just lukewarm. If the syrup starts to become too thick to pour, return the pan to the hob very briefly, for the heat to thin is slightly.
- Gradually whisk in the butter. Then add the salt and vanilla extract. The meringue will collapse a little, and the mixure may look like it's curdled, but keep whisking it until it forms a smooth fluffy buttercream. Use paste colour to colour the buttercream to the desired colour.
Top Tip for making Italian meringue buttercream
Top tip: Paste food colourings can be bought online from Cakecraftshop.co.uk (opens in new tab)
Sue McMahon is a former Food and Recipes Writer at GoodTo and Cooking Editor at Woman's Weekly. Her primary passion is cakes and Sue regularly travels the world teaching cake decorating. Her biggest achievement to date was winning the Prix d’honneur at La Salon Culinaire International de Londres beating over 1,200 other entries.
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