Russian Decorating Tips

If you’ve been perusing decorated cakes on Instagram or Pinterest lately you may have noticed an influx of cakes decorated with some fancy and elaborate looking flowers. You may have thought to yourself that they require some advanced skill in cake decorating to create, but, the truth is, they only require specific types of decorating tips, a little patience and the right frosting consistency to replicate.

When I first started seeing them I did a little research and discovered that the flowers were being created with decorating tips known as “Russian Decorating Tips.” After a little more research I discovered that these tips have nothing to do with Russia. So, how did they get their name? Per another blogger, I Am Baker, they got their name because they were being sold by a company called Ali Express and they named them “Russian Tips.” At the time I didn’t feel like ordering a set over the internet, but, not too long ago I discovered that my local AC Moore began selling a set of 8 (along with an extra-large coupler to use with them) for less than $10. Truth be told, you don’t need the coupler. You can just cut your decorator bag and drop the tip in. I would suggest using a 16-inch decorator bag with these tips as opposed to a 12-inch one.

 

Unlike traditional decorating tips from Wilton & Ateco, these tips do not have numbers on them. The tips have a laser cut design on the end that allows the frosting to be piped through and form the different flowers. I will say that some of the tips are easier to use than others. Some of the designs, especially those that have detailed centers meant to emulate the stamen & stigma part of the flower, take a little more practice to master. One other thing that is different is the way you pipe them. With your usual tips you sometimes have to add a little wrist twist to get the flower design, or, you have to hold the bag at a 45 degree angle. But, with these tips you hold the bag at a 90 degree angle about an inch or so from your cake (or cupcake) and squeeze for a few seconds to form the flower. Before piping the next flower I would suggest wiping the tip clean to get a nice flower for the next pipe.

Like I mentioned earlier I purchased a set of these tips from my local AC Moore store. I can’t remember how I knew they carried them; I probably saw something on their Instagram feed. I decided to hold off on using them until I made my Mother’s Day cake. I did test them out using store bought vanilla frosting and as I had suspected and had read a little bit about, the frosting was too thin to get a well-formed flower. All of my test flowers looked like little blobs of frosting as opposed to a flower.

So, using my go-to Fluffy Vanilla Frosting that I then tinted in 4 different colors I began decorating the top of my cake. I was soon a bit frustrated with some of the tips. The flowers weren’t piping well and even though the frosting was a stiffer consistency the centers of the flowers weren’t looking nice. So, I decided to switch the tips I had chosen to use. Soon enough I got the hang of it and ended up with a flower topped cake I was content with. It wasn’t until I added in leaves (using a Wilton 352 tip) that I piped around the cake and in between the flowers to fill in the gaps that I was truly happy with the outcome.

  

 

 

 

 

Lavender Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting

A few weeks ago while I was out and about in Brooklyn, NY I stopped into the Middle Eastern grocery store Sahadi’s and immediately fell in love with the place. My senses were on overload with the abundance of cheeses, pastries, hard to find ingredients and herbs & spices (and that’s just to name a few of the items you can find here.) One of the herbs I couldn’t resist buying was dried lavender.

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A few years ago I took a cooking class where we made Honey-Lavender Fritters and I have always remembered how delicious they were so initially I was thinking of making those, but after some Google searches I settled on cupcakes instead – I can always make the fritters at a later time since I do have plenty of dried lavender left. I settled on a recipe from a fellow blogger – Sweet Society – and got to baking.

To start I soaked 3 tablespoons of dried lavender in whole milk in the refrigerator for eight hours.

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After straining I set it aside and began making the batter for the cupcakes.

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In the bowl of my stand mixer I sifted flour, baking powder and salt together.

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I then added in softened butter and sugar and mixed all the ingredients together until the texture of the mixture was sand-like.

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Next up I added in the lavender infused milk and an egg.

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The batter quickly came together and was ready to be filled into my Spring themed cupcake liners.

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The batter was the perfect amount for twelve cupcakes.

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After baking for 20 minutes in a 325 F preheated oven they were done.

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While the cupcakes cooled I made the frosting. I decided to try something completely new and opted for a Mascarpone Frosting which simply consisted of mascarpone cheese, heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar.

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In one bowl I mixed the heavy cream until stiff peaks formed and in the other bowl I mixed together the mascarpone cheese and confectioners’ sugar until it was smooth.

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Once that was I done folded the whipped cream into the mascarpone and sugar mixture until it was completely incorporated. Following that I piped the frosting onto my cupcakes.

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These cupcakes along with the frosting were a winner… Definitely something to make again!

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Lavender Cupcakes

Makes 10-12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons dried culinary lavender – you’re going to combine the milk and dried lavender in a bowl with a lid and set in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours, preferably overnight, to infuse

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter – softened

1 egg – room temperature

Directions:

1) Infuse the milk and dried lavender as stated above in ingredients.

2) Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).

3) Using a strainer, strain the infused lavender milk to remove the dried lavender.

4) In the bowl of your stand mixer (or mixing bowl if using a handheld mixer), sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

5) Add in sugar and softened butter to your dry ingredients from step 4. Mix with the paddle attachment on low until all is combined and the texture is sandy (the butter mixed with the dry ingredients should feel crumbly/sand-like).

6) With the stand mixer on low, slowly pour the infused milk into the flour mixture and mix just until the last of the milk is combined. Now add in the egg.

7) Mix for 15 seconds on medium speed, and then scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are combined. Make sure not to over-mix (over-mixing results in a dry cake).

8) Fill the cupcake liners 2/3rd’s full, bake cupcakes at 325 degrees (F) for 20-23 minutes or when a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

9) Remove cupcakes and set on a wire cooling rack until completely cool

Mascarpone Frosting

Yields 2 Cups

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream

8 oz. mascarpone cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to overbeat, or cream will be grainy)

In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth.

Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.

Colorful Cake Pops

Earlier this year a few friends and I bought vouchers to take a Cake Pop class. After some scheduling mishaps we finally took the class this past weekend. While the place was less than desirable we still had a fun time nonetheless and all learned how to make a new treat. Although, I think I’ll be tweaking the directions the instructor gave us when I attempt them on my own.

I ended up making a total of nine colorful cake pops. I stuck with the simple technique of dipping them in thinned-down dyed frosting and putting sprinkles on them as opposed to some of the fun creations my friends made. I’m sad to say that I actually didn’t try them after my friends tried some of their “casualty” pops – they fell off the stick before or after being dipped into the frosting – and they said that they were really sweet. While I do love my sweets anything overly sweet is just not my cup of tea. And considering the amount of frosting we used to bind the cake together in order to make the balls for the pops and then dipping them in frosting I was sure that they were a super sugar rush.