Simple buttercream for Valentine’s Day rose cupcakes

24 Feb

As I mentioned in my last post, I used the extra batter from my Valentine’s Day cake to make a dozen cupcakes. It took me a few days to get around to frosting them, and my first frosting attempt crashed and burned…but the second one worked out well. Here’s what happened:

I really wanted to get creative with my frosting–which was probably my first huge mistake, seeing as I don’t even have the basics down yet. I liked the idea of chocolate cupcakes with strawberry frosting, and I happened to have some fresh strawberries ready to go in the fridge. So I went in search of a recipe online and picked this one. It seemed like my best bet since it consisted only of strawberries, butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Here’s the problem: it called for frozen strawberries, not fresh. This didn’t seem like a big deal at the time; plus, I figured, aren’t fresh berries always better than frozen ones? Silly me. I’m assuming this difference was a big part of the reason my “frosting” ended up as it did.

Oh yeah, and here’s another thing: I don’t have a food processor. Well, I do, but it’s stashed somewhere in my basement and I haven’t gotten around to setting it up yet. Because I’m so lazy, I tried to hand-mash my strawberries instead, which was pretty much hopeless…so I ended up with strawberry chunks, not strawberry puree. Then I beat in the butter and sugar. As you can see, it was a gloptastic mess.

Thanks to some reader comments, as well as a little research, I’ve learned that it is indeed possible to over-mix both frosting and batter. I’m sure this seems like common sense to most experienced bakers, but I guess I always assumed that the more well-mixed it was, the better! And the worse my frosting looked, the more I wanted to mix it. Alas, I think this was another big contributor to my epic frosting failure.

This was the very best I was able to achieve with my strawberry “frosting”:

Disgusting! It looks like brains. Or a bad skin condition.

Obviously, I tossed the whole mess. I realized I had to swallow my pride and my big frosting ambitions and try to make a straightforward buttercream instead. Once again, I pulled out my Martha Day baking book and used her recipe for simple buttercream–but this time, I actually used powdered sugar instead of granulated. Aren’t you proud of me?

The result was something that–drumroll, please–actually looked like frosting! It was incredibly thick, though, so I added a bit more milk and probably could have added even more. It was so thick, in fact, that it kept getting stuck in the beaters. Does anyone know of a way to avoid this, or is it just one of those things you have to deal with? It did seem to happen less when I turned the speed up, but I still found myself scraping the mixture out every minute or so.

I added a few drops of red food coloring until I had a nice baby-pink shade.

The consistency was good, so I filled my piping bag and got to work! These were my Valentine’s Day cupcakes, so it seemed only fitting to make them look like roses…

The frosting was still quite thick, so it wasn’t easy to work with and did leave me with some rough edges. Still, I’m pleased with how they turned out, both in appearance and in flavor. Next time, I’m thinking of using a few tricks I picked up on a baking forum to make my buttercream smoother. As always, I’ll let you know how it goes!

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18 Responses to “Simple buttercream for Valentine’s Day rose cupcakes”

  1. Gastronomer February 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Beautiful work! The rose-shaped frosting is so perfect!

    • leighbakes February 24, 2011 at 7:43 pm #

      Thank you! It was a rough start, but it ended well. :)

  2. NyankoHime February 24, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    wow. I only WISH I could ever do that. They look just like roses. Soooo pretty! Makes me wanna nom one XD

    For the record, the first strawberry frosting one still looks better than ANYTHING I’ve ever baked… haha!

    • leighbakes February 24, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

      They were highly nom-able :D And making roses like that is deceptively easy…you just need the right tools. It’s definitely my favorite way to frost cupcakes!

  3. cookerycook February 25, 2011 at 4:30 am #

    That first bit if frosting didn’t look half bad u know. I’m guessing it tasted good : )Such beautiful rose cupcakes.

    • leighbakes February 25, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      You’re right–it tasted good enough, especially with all that sugar. :) Now if only it hadn’t oozed all over the cupcake… I’ll bet if I’d thickened it somehow it would have been passable. And thank you!

  4. Dan February 25, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    Looks nice

  5. mybakingempire February 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    The roses came out beautiful in the end! And I’m sure the strawberry mess, though maybe overmixed, was still yummy. I had a similar problem with strawberries when I tried making strawberry frosting too, the cake pretty much collapsed, but it was yummy!

    • leighbakes February 26, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

      Yummy is all that really counts in the end, isn’t it? ;) I’m definitely going to keep trying with fruity frostings…even if I have to make a few more sugary messes before I make it work!

  6. saltandserenity February 26, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

    I love to hear that someone else sometimes has to throw out and start over again! Makes me feel better. Your end result is stunning!! What type of tip do you use to make those roses? I would have loved to see a little video of how you pipe the roses.

    • leighbakes February 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

      Those roses are by far my favorite thing I’ve learned about cake decorating–they look great but are insanely simple to make! All you need to do is start at the center of the cupcake and pipe in a circular motion (in a single layer) until you reach the edge, then make sure you kind of glide the tail end of the frosting into the side so it doesn’t stick out. I don’t have a video of myself doing it, but I found a good one on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReAz4SExuwg
      The thing is, whenever I see or read about people making these, they say to use a Wilton 1M tip (like in the video), which works…but I use a 2D tip, and I think it looks a lot better. It’s a more exaggerated star tip, so the folds of the frosting are longer and overlap more like a real rose. That’s the only change I’d make!

  7. Yaneri February 27, 2011 at 12:30 am #

    oh my gosh, these are perfect and so so soooooooooooo beautiful! So pretty to eat thou….lol! I’m learning to bake little by little and love to make cupcakes. I was going to ask you how you made the roses but saw the video you recommended.

    • leighbakes February 27, 2011 at 12:45 am #

      Great to hear from another self-taught baker! I agree, cupcakes are a lot of fun to make. And even more fun to decorate…you should try out that rose technique yourself! :)

  8. crustabakes February 27, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    I am glad you didnt give up on ur buttercream after the first experience, cause u nailed it BIG time the second time. The roses are so clean and pretty!

    • leighbakes February 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

      Thanks so much! I guess this proves that practice and do-overs are the only way to learn. :)

  9. Claire February 13, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    What is your butter cream icing recipe? I definately want to try to make these for valentines day tomorrow! I have a few tips, hope I have the right one….any advice on your technique would be appreciated!

  10. deb February 28, 2013 at 12:39 am #

    Try a mango flavored frosting. The color is also very pretty for roses! Puree a couple tablespoons fresh mango and add after your fats are whipped (with your vanilla and before the confectioners sugar). You will still need to add a little milk for a nice texture (heavy cream is even better). You can even pump up a vanilla cake mix using mango nector (you can find it in the juice section at your local market) instead of water and a litte lime zest.

    P.s. I think your roses are perfect!

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