Cake Decorating Blog

The New Way to Frost Your Cupcakes: The Flat-Top Buttercream Technique

Yay for cupcakes! And double-yay for flat top buttercream cupcakes!

Flat Top Buttercream Cupcakes | Erin Gardner | Craftsy
I’ve always loved the look of silky smooth fondant covered cupcakes. They’re so clean and perfect for adding piping or delicate decorations. What I don’t love (and many of my customers didn’t love) was the amount of fondant needed on a cupcake to achieve the look.

Fondant works beautifully on larger cakes because it’s offset by the layers of cake and buttercream within. But, on a teeny little cupcake, the ratio becomes a little wonky.

Flat Top Cupcake With Sprinkles | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

FREE Guide! Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas

craftsy buttercream guide

Get insider tricks & inspiration to make one-of-a-kind buttercream goodies in this FREE PDF guide, available exclusively on Craftsy.Get My FREE Guide »

The other major flaw with fondant covered cupcakes is the lack of sprinkles. I’m a girl who loves her sprinkles! By using buttercream we get the best of both worlds, a smooth top for adding a message or decoration, and sides to fill up with lots of sprinkley goodness!

Here are a few quick and easy methods for making your own flat top buttercream cupcakes!

Supplies | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Supplies:

Flat Top Cupcake With Sprinkles

Step 1:

Pipe a generous swirl of buttercream onto your cupcake. Smear the icing to the edges of the top of the cupcake using the small spatula.

Icing A Flat Top Cupcake | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 2:

Hold the spatula vertically and smooth the sides of the icing all the way around the top of the cupcake. Next, hold the spatula horizontally and at a slight angle and smooth down any edges of the icing that are sticking up. Just like you would when crumb coating a cake.

Icing A Flat Top Cupcake | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 3:

Pour your sprinkles into a small bowl. Hold your cupcake at a slight angle and roll the edges of the buttercream icing in sprinkles.

Flat Top Cupcake With Sprinkles | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Upside down Method

Step 1:

Pipe a medium sized swirl of buttercream onto your cupcake. Flip your cupcake upside down onto a piece of wax paper. Smush the cupcake down to spread the frosting flat across the top of the cupcake. Use the spatula to smooth the edges of the frosting all the way around. Place your cupcake onto a plate and into the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes.

Upside Down Method | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 2:

Peel the wax paper off the top of the cupcake. Smooth the top of the icing with the small spatula. Dip the spatula in warm water and wipe it with a towel after ever swipe. This will help you get your icing very smooth.

You can stop at this point and add sprinkles and other decorations, or round the edges for more of a domed look.
Upside Down Method |Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Rounding The Edges

Step 1:

Use the small spatula to smooth down the top edge of the icing. Work your way around the cupcake, smoothing down edges as you go. Continue to use the hot water and towel to clean your spatula as needed. Set the cupcake aside to allow the buttercream to crust before moving on. This should take about 10 minutes.

Domed Buttercream Cupcake | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 2:

Once your icing has crusted over, make the top of your cupcake even smoother by using your finger or a small piece of wax paper to tap down any ridges left behind by the spatula. You can also use a piece of Viva paper towel. The Viva brand paper towel is preferred among many decorators because it has a very smooth surface, perfect for knocking down any rough edges on a crusted buttercream.

Flat Top Buttercream Iced Cupcake | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

FREE Guide! Not-So-Basic Buttercream Decorating Ideas

craftsy buttercream guide

Get insider tricks & inspiration to make one-of-a-kind buttercream goodies in this FREE PDF guide, available exclusively on Craftsy.Get My FREE Guide »

20 Comments

NONNIE

Added advantage is buttercream taste good while fondant is like you are eating gummed up cardboard.

Reply
Erin Gardner

Lol, you’re definitely not alone in feeling that way! 😉

Reply
Debbie

Years ago a professional decorator taught me to use a spray bottle filled with plain water and lightly spray the buttercream icing. The water helps to smooth out the icing and any rough edges! Great tip!

Reply
Tina

add a little almond extract to the water for added flavor

Reply
Ryan Rich

I learn a new way for decoration of cupcakes and would like to try it. This is one of the good options for serving them as a dessert.Thanks for sharing.
http://www.loveandquiches.com/ .

Reply
Debbie

Another easy trick for smoothing buttercream: after you have smoothed as much as possible with a metal spatula, wait about 15″ until the frosting sets. Lay a piece of typing paper (take a piece out of your printer) on top of your cake or cupcake and gently smooth with the flat of your hand. I always smooth the sides first by holding the paper flat against the side and moving the paper until all sides are smooth, then do the top, then around the very top along the sides to keep your perfect shape!

Reply
Erin Gardner

Yes! Very similar to the Viva paper towel method. I love hearing how everyone puts their own spin on things. 🙂

Reply
mhesy

dis actually a question n i will really love it if u answer it…..your butter cream which we call butter iceing is whitish in colour n my own is always cream as in like light yellow colour pls why is it like that n what are ur recipes for this butter cream**i really love it***

Reply
Anna

In answer. When you use real butter. The more you whip it the lighter it becomes. I whip mine well before adding the confectioners sugar. If you like the off white color use the regular vanilla. If you want the white white use the clear vanilla. I also add a little “white white” coloring from Wilton. This will give you the real white color of buttercream if that is what you are seeking. Good luck

Reply
Erin Gardner

Yes! These are great responses, thank you. 🙂 Whipping the butter does get it lighter in color. As does adding white food coloring or, believe it or not, a single drop of blue (counteracts the yellow). It’s also helpful to not let the buttercream get too warm. Thanks!

Reply
jeannette

use white butter which can be purchased at a baking supply store. as well as the clear vanilla.

Reply
Aunt Tilly

In most instances, the really white buttercream comes from using vegetable shortening for all or the majority of the fat, in the recipe, not butter. You can use 100% shortening and flavor with Butter flavoring or go 50/50 mixture of shortening/butter or 75/25 to get a whiter color icing. True, you can whiten butter to an extent by both the methods written in the other posts but not fully white like what you’d want on a wedding cake, for example. I don’t using the White White as much as I seem to be able to taste it nor do I like feeding someone the zinc it has as an ingredient. As long as you cream the shortening for several minutes (with or without butter) it will lose the ‘greasier’ feeling some people complain about ~ a High Ratio Shortening based icing is absolutely wonderful to work with, and taste!! More expensive but VERY worth it for a special cake!!

Reply
elia

Quiero saber si lo les mandara la foto de mi novio ustedes me lo podían hacer para ponerlo ariba de un pastel y que se coma yo vivo en san antonio tx usa y cuanto sale

Reply
Aoife

if i put too much milk in my buttercream it naturally goes like that

Reply
Tiffany

Can I use this with cream cheese frosting instead?

Reply
Erin Gardner

Hi! You could definitely try this with a cream cheese frosting. Although, that frosting can be a little softer than buttercream and might not hold the shape as well. Let us know how it goes if you try it!

Reply
Anne

What is Wilton white white coloring? Thank you

Reply
Erin Gardner

Hi! It’s just a white gel food coloring that Wilton sells. You can find it on their website or if you google white white food coloring.

Reply
SweetBunny

This is a cool idea – I like it not only for its own look, but because I’m not a fan of the trend that has become popular in the last few years of leaving a lot of bare cake around the edges of cupcakes. I think it looks strange and also the cupcake dries out easier. A person could use this technique to get the frosting to the edge without it being messy, and then either do the flat top, or add extra frosting for rounded or other shape effects. Thanks for the good idea!

Reply

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