Want to do something festive for your July 4th celebration? Try making these flag cupcakes! They are easy to put together and are very forgiving if you have a shaky hand or make mistakes.
Use homemade buttercream for the best taste. The recipe is easy, the taste is delicious, and it is worth the trouble! However, if you are pinched for time, you can buy a couple of tubs of vanilla frosting from the grocery store. Add a little food coloring, and you can eliminate the step of making homemade buttercream and go straight to decorating.
Gel Food Colorings
Use gel food coloring to keep the frosting from becoming runny. But if your frosting is too soft to hold its shape, add a little more confectioners’ (icing) sugar to the frosting. If it is too stiff and hard to squeeze through the tip, add a little cream to soften it.
I recommend using these colors for your flags. I like the AmeriColor Super Red gel because it stays red and does not turn brown. Make a blue color for the flag by adding a little violet to royal blue and mix. Keep adding color until you reach the shade you like best. Always build color by adding small amounts of gel coloring because t is hard to reverse frosting with saturated color. You will need to add white buttercream frosting to soften a too-dark color–and it can take a lot!
Tips You Will Need
You will need 2 tips to make these cupcakes: a leaf tip (Wilton #66) and a small star tip (Wilton #18). Use the leaf tip to pipe the red and white stripes and the star tip to pipe the blue stars.
Piping Bags & Couplers
Use plastic bags to pipe the frosting. You can buy bags specifically for this purpose (shown below). Or, you can use a sandwich (or larger) resealable bag to pipe frosting. Either way, you will snip off the corner of the bag to insert the tip.
Use a coupler with the piping bag if you want to remove the tip to use it with another color. For example, if you only have one leaf tip to make the flag stripes, you will need to remove the tip from a bag of (red) frosting, wash it, and attach it to the other bag of (white) frosting. The coupler makes this easy to do. However, if you don’t use a coupler (blue frosting shown below), the tip is placed into the bag, and then the frosting is added. To get the piping tip out of the bag, you must remove the frosting to get to it.
How to Use a Coupler
- Cut the end of the piping bag off.
- Place the large part of the coupler into the bag and let the small-end stick out of the hole you cut.
- Sit the metal tip on the coupler sticking out of the bag.
- Place the ring over the metal tip and screw it onto the coupler tip. (Yes, it will screw together even though the grooves are inside the plastic bag. The ring attaches the metal tip to the coupler and helps seal the bag to prevent frosting from leaking.)
- Add the frosting to the bag and start piping.
To remove the metal tip, screw off the ring and remove it. Then add another metal tip to pipe a different pattern.
Outline the Blue Area First
To decorate the cupcakes, start by outlining the blue star area using the star tip. Pipe stars into the corner of the cupcake, as shown in the photos.
Start by outlining the blue area of the flag. It does not have to be exact because these cupcakes are abstract flags. However, if you want the cupcakes to look identical, count the number of stars and place the same number on each cupcake. Once you have outlined the area for blue stars, fill in with more piped stars.
Use the leaf tip to add stripes to your cupcakes. Make a red stripe at the top of the cupcake. Make a ruffled effect by wiggling the piping tip up and down as you squeeze out the frosting. When you stop piping, you might have a ragged edge. Simply use a knife to push these edges down. I clean up the edges after all the stripes are made on a cupcake. Don’t wait until you finish all the cupcakes because the frosting might dry out and be hard to neaten.
Alternate between red and white stripes. If you only have one leaf tip, pipe all the red flag stripes first. Leave space between each red one for the white ones to go in between. Remember to clean up the edges after each cupcake is finished.
There are several ways to add stars to these cupcakes.
- You can use the star tip and white frosting. Pipe about five stars into the blue area. Remember that these are abstract flags. You don’t need to pipe 50 stars!
- You can also pipe little dots into the blue area to represent stars.
- You can use white candy stars. You can find these at craft stores in the cake decorating area. They are also available online.
- You can use silver-colored edible star sprinkles as I did on these cupcakes.
The stars are very lightweight and aren’t meant to be placed individually. You could use tweezers and place each star where you want them, but that would take forever! Just pick up a few stars and scatter them into the blue area.
These metallic stars are shiny and show up well against the blue background. And by the way, they don’t have any taste. They are available in silver and gold colors and can be found here. A small jar lasts a long time! Other brands and types of cake decorating stars can be found in craft stores, grocery stores, and online.
Enjoy making your own patriotic cupcakes!