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How to frost cupcakes (Hummingbird Bakery style)

Icing and decorating cupcakes with a tempting swirl of buttercream frosting is one baking skill where practice definitely makes perfect!

One question we are asked a lot by our home bakers is how to frost a cupcake with our signature swirl. The simple answer is: it’s easy when you know how!

It takes the Hummingbird bakers lots and lots (and we mean lots) of cupcakes before they can get the frosting to look just right, so we thought we’d ask the baking experts at our Soho branch on Wardour Street just how they get their cupcakes looking so good…


How to frost cupcakes:



Speed, confidence and a steady hand all help but don’t feel frustrated if it doesn’t come right straight away – it takes plenty of practice.

While our fastest frosters can finish decorating a tray of twenty four cupcakes in just four minutes, it will take considerably longer at home. But the more you do, the easier it will become.



In our bakery kitchens, we do away with pesky piping bags and frost our cupcakes with a palette knife. You can use either a straight palette knife or an angled one, but this is purely a matter of personal preference.


Step one

Dollop a generous spoonful of frosting onto the top of the cupcake sponge. We use food portioners to make sure we get the same amount of frosting on all our cupcakes, but there’s no need to be so meticulous at home.

Tip from our bakers: If your cupcake sponges have high peaks don’t be afraid to use a serrated knife to slice the peaks off – this will make it easier to spread the frosting on.  

Step two

Using the flat side of the palette knife, create a little mountain of frosting by smoothing down the sides into a cone shape. This will completely cover the sponge and there should be no gaps in frosting between the sponge and the paper case.

Tip from our bakers: Try and make this cone shape in three swipes of the palette knife!


Step three

Holding your cupcake in one hand, take the flat side of your palette knife and press down the tip of the frosting cone in a circular motion. The harder you press, the bigger the swirl will be. It’s okay to remove some frosting in the process.

Tip from our bakers: Rather than keeping your cupcake hand still, try turning the cupcake in the opposite direction to the palette knife as you make the swirl. This counter-motion will help to create a smooth, quick action.  

Step four

Lift the palette knife away at the last moment to form the peak on top.

Tip from our bakers: Speed is of the essence. The faster you frost, the smoother the swirl will be.  

Step five

Decorate! Add some fun with pretty sprinkles, edible decorations, sugar flowers and glitter. Let your imagination go wild or keep your stunning swirls simple.

Tip from our bakers: Customise your cupcakes by mixing up your own sprinkles. Make multi-coloured combinations and try out different textures and shapes.

Et voilà! There you have your beautifully frosted cupcake complete with its very own Hummingbird swirl. Now the only thing left to do is enjoy!