Practice Makes Perfect ~ Cupcake Decorating

“Practice isn’t the thing you do when you’re good.
Its the thing you do that makes you good.”
Malcolm Gladwell
Cupcake Decorating Trial 2

Because I have developed a love for baking, I am always trying to improve my skills by finding new decorating techniques.  I am a self taught baker and a lot of my more technical skills have been learned via books, other food blogs, internet research and tutorials (gotta love Google and YouTube!) and from watching cooking shows on Food Network, the Cooking Channel and now many other stations are offering some good food related shows, like the Chew and a recent favorite, American Baking Competition. Maybe after all this practice, I will be ready for next years competition!!

Cupcake Decorating Pink

I believe in sharing both my successes and the things that end up being “not so successful.” I prefer to not call them failures, just opportunities to do better, right!  First for the success – I tried a couple new easy decorating techniques!!  Check out this video by Ann Reardon to learn some really neat ways to pipe buttercream flowers with a disposable ziploc bag… amazing!  Yours will probably look much better than mine if you avoid my “not so successful” runny buttercream.  But like I said, these moments provide opportunities to learn!

Cupcake Decorating Trial 5

After my battle with the buttercream, I had a “hindsight is 20/20” moment and realized what I should have done to fix the situation.  First, a little background… I left my butter out in a hot kitchen for way to long.  That’s it, no long drawn out story. Simple.   So, I should have realized this and corrected for this issue before diving head first into making my buttercream frosting, but because I was super excited to try my new decorating techniques I didn’t, I figured it would be fine.  So the butter was way to soft, which means that the buttercream never reached the right consistency and rather than putting it in the refrigerator to firm it up a bit, I just kept adding stuff (i.e. confectioner sugar) trying to help it out!  Please learn from my mistakes.  Don’t keep adding sugar… it’s not the best way to fix this situation.

Cupcake Decorating Trials 6

Because I am not one to give up and because I didn’t want to waste all my ingredients, I decided to doctor up my buttercream.  First I had to do something to cut all that sugar that I kept adding.  What I decided to do was to add some cream cheese and for the strawberry flavor, I added pureed strawberries which helped minimize some of the sugar.  This helped, but not enough.  Again, a little siesta in the fridge would have made all the difference, but nope, I did think of that!  Long story short, I did enough to pull together the frosting so that I could at least try my hand at the decorating techniques, but it was not nearly as successful because the frosting was way too soft.  I can however see the potential, because if this is what can be produced with sub par frosting, the right frosting would likely produce amazing outcomes.  So, I continue to practice and learn…

Notes:Cupcake Decorating Trials 4
Cupcake Flavors ~  I used this vanilla cupcake recipe and filled some with different fillings, shown are strawberry frosting with a fresh strawberry puree filling, caramel pear frosting with a caramel compote filling and the yellow ones are vanilla with a couple drops of yellow food coloring with mini chocolate chips, no filling.

I think that any frosting recipe would work with these techniques as long as it has the right consistency.  A good basic american buttercream frosting, or a meringue buttercream or even a cream cheese frosting could work, it is really about the consistency.  It should be stiff enough to hold the shapes.

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3 thoughts on “Practice Makes Perfect ~ Cupcake Decorating

  1. Pingback: Determination in the Kitchen ~ Banana and Pineapple Cupcakes | Savor.Good.Food

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