Flag Cupcakes

by elyn_ryn

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.

Buttercream

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

  1. Cut the end of the piping bag off. 
  2. Place the large part of the coupler into the bag and let the small-end stick out of the hole you cut. 
  3. Sit the metal tip on the coupler sticking out of the bag. 
  4. 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.)
  5. 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.

Add Stripes

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.

Add Stars

There are several ways to add stars to these cupcakes. 

  1. 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! 
  2. You can also pipe little dots into the blue area to represent stars.
  3. You can use white candy stars. You can find these at craft stores in the cake decorating area. They are also available online.
  4. 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!

Print Recipe
Flag Cupcakes
Vanilla cupcakes decorated with a flag
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Rate this recipe!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Vanilla Buttercream
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Vanilla Buttercream
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Vanilla Cupcakes
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the sour cream, buttermilk, vanilla, eggs, and vegetable oil into a large mixing bowl. Whisk until smooth. Then sift in the cake mix and stir until smooth--but not overmixed. Do not skip sifting the cake mix because the batter will be lumpy.
  3. Using a cookie scoop, place the cake batter into the cupcake liners. Fill them about 2/3 full.
  4. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until the cupcakes are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean or with a few small crumbs. Do not overbake. After 5 minutes of cooling time, move the cupcakes to a cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.
Vanilla Buttercream
  1. Use a mixer to beat the butter, vanilla, butter flavoring, and salt until creamy. Add the cream and stir. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and beat between each addition. If the frosting is too stiff, add more cream. If too soft, add more sugar.
  2. Divide the frosting into 3 bowls. Set aside one bowl of white frosting. Add a small amount of red gel coloring to another bowl of frosting and stir to mix. Add additional color if needed until the desired shade is reached.
  3. Add royal blue to another bowl of frosting. Add a little violet to it. Stir to make a blue color. Add more blue (and violet) if needed to reach the desired shade of blue.
  4. Prepare 3 piping bags (or sandwich bags) for the frosting. Attach the frosting tips to the bags with couplers or insert them into the bags. Add a frosting color to each bag.
  5. Use the blue frosting with the star tip to outline the blue star area of the flag. (Use the photos as a guide.) Then fill in the outlined area with stars.
  6. Use the red frosting with a leaf tip to add red stripes. Start at the top of the blue star area and pipe a horizontal line across the cupcake. Make a ruffled effect by wiggling the piping tip up and down as you squeeze out the frosting.
  7. Add a white stripe (using a leaf tip) underneath the red line, following the same procedure. If you only have one leaf tip, make all the red stripes first, leaving space to add the white stripes later.
  8. When a cupcake is frosted, clean up any rough edges by scraping off extra frosting with a knife. (You will have leftover frosting. If enough is left over, you can store it in the freezer.)
  9. Add star sprinkles to the blue section of the flags. (See the note below for a source.)
Recipe Notes

Measuring Powdered (Icing) Sugar

Use these tips to prevent adding too much sugar to the frosting:

  • Use a spoon to fluff the sugar before measuring it for the buttercream.
  • Do not pack the sugar in the measuring cup.
  • Use a knife to level the top of the sugar in the measuring cup.

Gel Food Coloring

Recommended gels:

Sprinkles

Click here for a metallic, edible star source.

Yield

This recipe makes between 20 and 24 regular-sized cupcakes.

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