When it comes to cake decorating, I’m all about embracing low effort, high impact techniques, and these hydrangea cupcakes definitely fall into that category. Using a very simple piping method, you can quickly and easily create these beautiful, blooming cupcakes!
To make the vanilla cupcakes, I used a recipe from Add a Pinch, but you could use any cake recipe you prefer. I filled the cupcakes with lemon curd (which I posted about last week here), and frosted them with a vanilla buttercream.
This particular cake recipe that I used yields 12 regular sized cupcakes, or 36 mini cupcakes. I opted to make the mini ones since that’s the size I usually prefer. The frosting recipe should give you just enough buttercream to decorate that many cupcakes using this piping technique.
To make the cupcakes, whisk together all your dry ingredients in a bowl.
Add the milk, oil, egg, and vanilla. Mix to combine.
Pour in some boiling water and mix until smooth.
Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, and evenly distribute the batter across them. As I mentioned before, you should have enough batter for 12 regular cupcakes, or 36 mini ones.
Bake the cupcakes until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean (about 25 minutes for regular cupcakes, or 12 minutes for minis).
Allow the cupcakes to cool completely before filling them with lemon curd and frosting them.
This was the first time I’ve tried filling cupcakes, and the process was surprisingly smooth. I piped the filling into the centre of the cupcakes, which I think works well for the minis. If you’re making larger cupcakes, you may want to use a small knife to carve a little hole out of the top of the cupcake. This creates a little well which you can then fill with lemon curd.
I used a Wilton #10 round tip fitted on to a piping bag. I inserted the tip fairly deep into the centre of the cupcake, about 3/4 of the way down. Next, I simply squeezed the bag to pipe the lemon curd into the centre of the cupcake.
At first I thought I was putting too much filling into the cupcakes, so I cut one in half after filling it to see how much lemon curd was inside. It was less than I thought, so I think the trick really is to overfill. Don’t be shy about it! If you aren’t sure how much is actually going in, you can do what I did and cut it open to have a look. This way you’ll get to sample one of your delicious creations as well.
Once you’ve filled all the cupcakes, you can start preparing the buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat some butter until softened and lighter in colour (3-4 minutes).
Add some icing sugar, a half cup at a time, beating well between each addition. When you add the icing sugar, beat on low speed until it’s just incorporated, then turn up the speed to the highest setting to beat some air into it. Never add icing sugar to the bowl when the mixer is on high speed, or you’ll send icing sugar flying everywhere.
Once the sugar is incorporated, beat in some vanilla, and then beat in some heavy cream, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. You can add a little more sugar if the frosting is too soft, or more cream if it’s too firm.
Divide the frosting into two bowls. Tint one half of the frosting pale blue, and the other half pale purple.
Fit a piping bag with a flower tip (I used a Wilton #131). Use a spatula to fill one half of the bag with the blue frosting, and the other half with the purple frosting. This is what will give the flowers their two-tone effect. It doesn’t matter if the frosting mixes together a little bit as you’re filling the bag.
Pipe little flowers all over the top of the surface of each cupcake. I find it easiest to start in the centre, and work outwards in a circle towards the edges.
As you can see, the frosting technique itself is very straightforward, and yet it creates quite a stunning effect. You can alter the colours if you’d prefer to make some dark purple or blue hydrangeas, or even white ones, rather than using the pastel colours.
If you want to get really fancy, you can lay the cupcakes out onto a nice plate, and use mint leaves to add a little foliage accent.
For the Cupcakes
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup boiling water
For the Frosting
- 3/4 cup butter (softened)
- 2 1/2 - 3 cups icing sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- purple and blue gel food colouring
- 1/2 cup lemon curd
For the Cupcakes
- Pre-heat your oven to 325°F.
- In a large bowl, or in a stand mixer, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- Add the milk, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla. Mix well to combine.
- Carefully add the boiling water while mixing the batter. Mix until the batter is smooth.
- Divide the batter into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners. This recipe should yield 12 regular cupcakes or about 36 mini cupcakes.
- Bake until a tester inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean (about 25 minutes for regular cupcakes, 12 minutes for minis).
- Transfer the baked cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before filling and frosting.
For the Filling
- Fit a piping bag with a round piping tip. Fill the piping bag with lemon curd. Insert the piping tip deep into the centre of each cupcake, and squeeze the bag to fill with lemon curd. You could also use a small knife to cut a little hole out of the centre of each cupcake, and then fill the hole with lemon curd.
For the Frosting
- Beat the butter until softened and lightened in colour (3-4 minutes).
- Add the icing sugar, a half cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Add the vanilla, and beat well to combine.
- Add the heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until your frosting reaches your desired consistency. You may need to add a little more cream if the frosting is too firm, or a little more icing sugar if it is too soft.
- Divide the frosting into two bowls. Use the food colouring to tint one bowl of frosting light purple, and the other light blue.
- Fit a piping bag with a star tip (Wilton #131), and use a spatula to fill half the bag with the blue frosting, and the other half with the purple frosting.
- Pipe little flowers all over the top of each cupcake, starting at the centre and working your way out the edges.