Pastry Tips and Perfect Swirls

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Have you ever wondered how bakeries make those perfect pretty swirls on top their cupcakes? Or how the swirls look so unique and different from each other? Well the test kitchen has baked up a big batch of cupcakes and set out to find our favorite swirls. See our picks for our favorite pastry tips below!

Here’s how the swirl looks when using the open star tip:


We found that the large open star tip makes the classic cupcake swirl. It almost looks like the top to an ice cream cone! If you’re feeling adventurous, the smaller open star tips can be used to create delicate star and shell borders on cakes and confections.

Here’s our swirl effect when using the open round tip:


This is a great tip to use for a smooth and elegant swirl. We also use an open round tip for border dots and decorations.

Now for a fun swirl! The large flower drop tip:


This fun tip makes a flowery and whimsical swirl on top of a cupcake, almost like a flower petal. The smaller tips are used to make different flowers borders and intricate blooms on cakes.

We love the effect that the closed star tip makes on the swirls:


This tip has more tins than the open star tip, and the tins arch in towards the center. It creates a more sophisticated swirl with deeper and exaggerated grooves and ridges. The smaller tips can be used for intricate rosette borders.

Now that you know which pastry tips to use, here are some more tips on making that perfect swirl!

The “Classic Cupcake Swirl” starts with a nice steady even pressure. Pipe from 12 o’clock all the way around to 11 o’clock before you go up a tier and pipe again all the way around. After a few turns you’ll create a tiered tower of frosting.  Pull up once you reach the top for that pretty finishing touch. The bigger the tip, the easier it is for a beginner.

You’ll need a trustworthy cupcake and frosting recipe. We adore our friend Cheryl’s old-fashioned cupcake recipe from Back in the Day bakery. We found that cream cheese icings, while easy and delicious, are not great for piping. We preferred a basic butter cream.

Be sure to completely cool your cupcakes before frosting. If not, the residual heat will melt the frosting.
Pick out some cute cupcake liners to bake the cupcakes in. They add that little something extra.

We found that we liked to use gel food coloring in the frosting for the most vibrant colors. Luckily they’re now available in most groceries stores.

You’ll need a piping bag. You can either buy them at your craft store or you can use a large plastic zip top bag if in a pinch by cutting a small hole in the corner of the bag.

To fill the pastry bag, place your tip inside the pastry bag and drop through to the opening and secure. Place the pastry bag inside a tall glass to hold it steady. Fold down the bag over the glass then spoon in your frosting. Unfold the bag and twist the top and press the frosting firmly down to the tip. This ensures that no air bubbles will be trapped and ruin your swirl.

Now get going and start frostings! Decorating is so much fun that eating the sweet treats is just icing on the cupcakes.

So tell us, which swirl is your favorite?

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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm