How to Make Flowers with Buttercream

Tulpen aus Buttercreme

Have I mentioned that I hate fondant? I really don’t get it. You see a wedding cake with fondant and you know that whoever made that cake spent hours and hours on beautiful decoration with the fondant, there are flowers and little figures and you can only imagine how many hours it must have taken to prepare them. But what happens next, you see that all the guests happily reach for a piece and quickly get rid of the fondant because it is so ultra sweet. Nobody wants to eat it. I find that extremely sad. I will always say that flavor is so much more important than looks. But this does not mean that a flavorful cake needs to look boring! That’s why today I am going to introduce to you how to make flowers with buttercream. Below you will find lots of helpful tips and tricks and also a video for you to practice making different flowers with buttercream.

Verschiedene Blumen aus Buttercreme

Which buttercream to use

#1 You need a sturdy buttercream

Of course you can use whipped cream to make some swirls and small roses, but there is a reason why it is recommended to stabilize the whipping cream when you make black forest cake, which contains a high amount of whipping cream. If you wish to pipe detailed flowers, I highly recommend a buttercream using a high ration of butter.

#2 Swiss Meringue or Italian Buttercream are best

It is amazing how many buttercreams there are, you can choose between American buttercream, German buttercream, another called Ermine, the French, etc., etc. If you want to pipe flowers, you will need one that is sturdy, yet silky and soft, one that doesn’t crust and is not too sweet if you wish for your guests to also eat the flowers. In my opinion the best buttercreams for this are the Swiss Meringue Buttercream and the Italian buttercream. I have tried both recipes and have to say that I personally prefer the Italian buttercream as you don’t need to use a waterbath. However, if you want to be 100% sure that pregnant ladies and children are safe to eat your buttercream, I recommend the Swiss Meringue as you pasteurize the egg whites first. You do that theoretically also with the Italian one as you add the hot sugar syrup to the raw egg whites, but I wouldn’t bet on it. One thing I learned, however, is that drugstores do offer pasteurized egg whites, which means that you are also safe to use Italian buttercream. The drugstore DM offers some called pumperlgsund. As the egg whites are pasteurized, you are safe to make Italian buttercream with it.

#3 Temperature of the buttercream

It is possible to freeze prepared buttercream. But if you wish to pipe anything, be sure that it has proper room temperature. If I made the buttercream the night before and chill it in the fridge, I take it out an hour before I start and whip it  a few minutes to be sure it is silky and smooth. It is also possible to freeze already piped buttercream flowers. Those you can place frozen on the cake and fasten with additional buttercream.

Tulpen-Torte mit Korb

What kind of utensils do you need

Piping Tips:

  • I recommend the so-called Russian piping tips for beginners. The tulips on the featured photo above were created with Russian piping tips. The good thing about these piping tips is the fact that you only have pipe upwards without any further movement or any swirls, so it is really easy to do. I will how you in the video how to do it.
  • If you don’t want to invest in further piping tips, how about using your regular Wilton M1 piping tip almost everybody seems to have? The roses pictured were created with this star tip and I find it honestly so much easier to do than with special rose piping tips. The secret is to hold the piping bag horizontally and start from the center moving outwards. Again I will show you in the video how to do it.  Hydrangeas  are also super easy to make. Check out how you can make a wonderful bouquet here. So as you can see, you don’t need to buy super fancy equipment to get started. If you are a true beginner, I would recommend starting with your star tip.
  • The leaf piping tip  also served well if you wish to make sunflowers. You don’t necessarily need to buy it, you may even get away with cutting the letter “A” into a new piping bag (see also video how to make a sunflower). Further instructions on how to make sunflowers can be found here.

Rose aus ButtercremeThis rose was piped with the Wilton M1 tip

Food coloring:

  • I recommend using gel food coloring or paste food coloring, especially if you want to use more than one color for oyur flowers. The shop Mein Cupcake has many to choose from and also offer different sets.
  • If you want to make a flower with two colors or with little dots of another color, best is to paint stripes of the other color inside the piping bag with a toothpick. I will show you in the video how to go about this.
  • There are also ways to dye the buttercream with natural ingredients. The brown woven basket you see (tulip cake) was colored with unsweetened cocoa powder. The color for the roses comes froom raspberry jam, so as you see, it is not impossible to pipe beautiful flowers with natural coloring. I also imagine that freeze-dried fruits would work well, depending on what color you want to achieve.

I decided not to include any tips of further equipment such as flower nails, etc. as I want this to be approachable for everybody. Piping flowers can be so much fun and you don’t need much for impressive results!

Tips for making the flowers

#1 First start with one piping tip

It may sound silly, but before you buy a large set of piping tips, just start with one you already have and see if you like it or not. I tried my very first flowers with the Russian piping tips and enjoyed it so much that I decided to buy further piping tips. However, you may also start with the “leaf tip” by cutting the shape of the letter A into a piping bag. Just your Wilton 1M tip and the leaf tip will create different flowers such as roses, hydrangeas, and sunflowers.

#2 Buttercream can be scraped off

Always keep in mind, you can scrape off any buttercream flower you don’t like. It is that simple, so feel free to practice until you are happy. Using a knife, you can also take aways few parts, leaves, etc. even if you used different colors. Just try to separate the colors as best as you can and mix the leftovers again with fresh buttercream. Fill in the piping bag again and just start all over. That’s the beauty of it!

Before you start coloring your buttercream, I recommend piping the shapes you desire with white buttercream. Practice until you feel comfortable and only color a small batch when you are ready.

#3 Always start with the lightest color and slowly change to the darker shades

I always reserve some white buttercream, just in case something goes wrong and I need to redo something. Then I will start with the lightest shade (usually yellow) and work my way slowly to the darker shades. Once you are done with one color, squeeze out all the buttercream from the piping bag as best as you can and color that buttercream with another shade. For example, I first used yellow and then painted that yellow buttercream pink. I probably had to add a bit more of still white buttercream, but it is OK to paint already painted buttercream. Fill into the same piping bag, don’t worry, if it still contains yellow spots. This will create two-colored flowers and will look much more natural.

#4 Prepared flowers can be frozen

As stated above, buttercream freezes beautifully. If you want to prepare the flowers a few days in advance, pipe them on parchment paper. You may want to cut the parchment paper into squares just big enough to hold a flower. Then I freeze them and peel them off right before placing them with additional buttercream on the cake. If you freeze flowers, they can be placed on cakes frozen. Hhowever, if you want to use buttercream and pipe something, this needs to have room temperature.

#5 Colored buttercream can also be frozen in the piping bag

You have buttercream left over, but are not sure what to do with it? Instead of throwing it away, freeze it as it is and use it conveniently next time you need to pipe anything. Just be sure to take it out on time, it will take several hours before it is pipeable.

#6 Use the leaves of herbs to make the leaves

You don’t have a leaf tip and don’t want to waste a piping bag for it? No problem. Use small mint leaves or basil leaves to imitate the flower leaves. As you can see above, I use basil leaves for the tulpis on the cupcake and mint leaves for the sunflower cupcake below as I was too lazy to paint the buttercream green.


Swiss Meringue Buttercream or Italian Buttercream for Making Flowers

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Serves: The amount is enough to frost the outside of a cake and make flower decorations or for 12 generously frosted cupcakes

Swiss Meringue Buttercream or Italian Buttercream are perfect for making flowers for cupcakes, fancy cakes or other decoration for baked goods.

Ingredients

  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • 6 egg whites
  • 200 grams of regular sugar
  • 355 grams of butter at room temperature

  • Italian Buttercream
  • 60 + 130 grams of regular sugar
  • 60 grams of water
  • 4 egg whites
  • 320 grams of butter at room temperature

Instructions

1

For the Swiss meringue buttercream create a waterbath for the egg whites mixed with the sugar. Keep on water bath while stirring. The temperature should reach 71 degrees Celsius. Another way of testing without a thermometer is to rub a bit of it between your fingers. If you can't feel the sugar granules anymore and the sugar has dissolved completely, it is done. Immediately transfer the egg mix to a mixing bowl and while still warm, start whipping. Whip until the mixture has cooled off, this can take ten minutes. Mix until stiff peaks form. Now add the room-temperature butter, a little at a time. It will first curdle. Continue beating until smooth. If too runny, stick in the freezer for about ten to fifteen minutes. If it continues getting thick or still curdles, heat just slightly bit and beat again. The main secret is for the eggs and the butter to both get to the right temperature. If one is colder or hotter than the other, the cream will not come together. Set aside once ready.

2

For the Italian buttercream boil 30 grams of sugar with water for about five minutes. Be sure to keep it at rather medium-high temperature. Meanwhile beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add 65 grams of sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form. This usually takes in total about seven minutes. While still beating the egg whites on high, add the created sugar sirup. Be careful while slowly adding the sirup to the egg whites. Continue beating until your bowl has room temperature again, this will at least take five more minutes. Once cool to the touch, add the butter slowly. I usually cut it up in four pieces and add one at a time. Don't be surprised if at some point the batter will look runny, this is normal, just continue beating until you have a smooth cream. Update from 2019: I beat my cream for 15 minutes and it still looked curdled. Since it was relatively cold in my kitchen, I decided to slightly heat up the mix for just a few seconds and then it came together beautifully. If you have the opposite problem in summer and the butter has melted, stick in the fridge for ten minutes and beat again until you have a nice cream.

Eine Sonnenblume aus Buttercreme

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