I’ve had a set of Russian icing tips for years. They were sitting in a drawer, minding their own business, not harming anyone. What possessed me to grab them to decorate some vanilla cupcakes? I have no idea. All I know is that I managed to produce ONE cupcake. Let’s call him Neo. Never again, my friends. Never again. A few more months of my life expectancy are gone.

(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe for yellow cupcakes (for ATK recipe, click here)

1 cup butter, slightly softened (I used Kerrygold)
1 pound icing sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk
purple, yellow, and green food gel dye
Russian piping tip
1M piping tip (optional)

Make the cupcakes according to the directions from America’s Test Kitchen recipe. It is a very simple and straightforward method that works great, I highly recommend it.

Make the buttercream: add the butter to the bowl of a KitchenAid type mix, fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix for a couple of minutes until the butter is creamy and lighter. Add the salt and vanilla, beat a little more. Turn the mixer off, add the powdered sugar and turn it on the lowest speed.

Once the risk of powdered sugar explosion is over, increase the speed, and beat for a couple of minutes, until very creamy, adding milk just to have the perfect piping consistency.

Separate a small amount (1/4 cup maximum) to dye green to pipe leaves. The rest of the buttercream divide in two, one large portion for purple, one smaller portion for yellow. Fit a large piping bag with the Russian tip of your choice, add the purple icing to the sides of the bag, leaving the center empty. Fill the center with yellow buttercream. Close the bag, pipe small amounts of buttercream on a piece of parchment paper until you are sure the yellow is showing through in the center. Pipe flowers on the surface of the cupcakes.

Add green buttercream to a small piping bag fitted with a leaf tip. Pipe leaves around the flowers.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Don’t you think that icing tip looks like the most innocent gadget in the universe? If you watch youtube videos teaching the secrets of the Russian tips, they make it all seem like the most peaceful walk on the most beautiful tropical beach. They are not telling you the truth. Not the full truth. I advise you to go for a tip that does not need a clear separation between the two colors. I wanted the yellow to be at the center, and the purple around it, and yes, I managed to do that in this single cupcake.

But as you go along, the colors tend to mix, the buttercream also gets a bit less firm, and instead of keeping open like a flower, the outer edge collapses in, and you are left with an “almost flower” next to a blob of undefined shape, next to another blob of even worse shape, and pathetic color. Accordingly, my reaction went from “ooops” to “what the heck is this?” to words unfit to print.

As I mentioned, I could only pull one cupcake decorated with “the Devil’s tip.” I had to scrape all the blobs, mix the icings together, spoon them in another bag fitted with my trustworthy 1M tip, and call it a day. It’s a good thing I don’t drink, because the tequila bottle winked at me. Twice.

As the road to get to the final icing was quite rocky, I was not too fond of the resulting color. If you mix yellow and purple, you’ll see what I mean (don’t do it). So I air-brushed some with a rose gold dye, and painted edges with gold luster. I am happy with the way they turned out, and for that my husband is elated.

Now, if you like to live dangerously and want to try “the Devil’s tips”, I advise you to pick one that you can use either with a single color or that would work well with a marbled design. You can then add two shades of the same color to the bag, so that mixing during piping won’t be a problem. Thinking back, I think it would be possible to add the yellow color to the center enclosed in a second bag, and spoon the purple around it. I might give it a try, but not in the near future. I need to recover from this adventure first… It’s not as if I am a young puppy with plenty of life expectancy to waste.

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  1. I totally agree. I have not even had great success (honestly, any success) in making decent one colour flowers with these. And I have … two sets of these tips! I can do fine with the standard tips but these really are the work of…
    Thank you for being brave enough to try and to share your results. I think all those videos that make it look easy should have warning labels.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. hahaha… I always enjoy seeing a blogpost from you when I get up in the morning and open my emails. It’s so funny (not really) that your chosen topic is Russian piping tips. I, too, have had these in my toolbox for a few years. I periodically drag them out and try…again. Nope. Not this time. Back into the drawer they go. So, lately, I’ve been watching more YouTube videos on these tempting tips and could not agree with you more. They need a warning to unsuspecting cupcake diva ‘wannabes’ that these tips are not for the feint of heart. After my sugar cookie debacle, I’ve been toying around in my head with taking them out again. I’m just not sure I’m ready for another checkmark in the ‘fail’ column. I will tell you what I learned from the first few tries with those buggars. You *must* use American buttercream. I know that some people are able to use SMBC, but I found it much too soft and silky. While those are appealing textures under normal conditions, it just doesn’t work with those tips, British Girl Bakes has a very good video on YT for using the tips, including a recipe. I detest ABC, but if/when I use Russian piping tips, it’s the only one that works. The other tip (no pun intended) I can offer is to use colors that blend well together (i.e. pink/orange/yellow or blue/green/purple) because that last thing you want is an ugly brown that inevitably happens with one combines complimentary colors together. Good luck!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, I did use American, but maybe I needed to make it even stiffer, I don’t know – and totally right on the choice of colors – you did notice the unappealing brownish tone of my other poor cupcakes, right? I managed to turn a real bad outcome into something well… bearable. They have a kind of a golden, pinkish tone and almost look like I intended to have that color when I planned them. Big fat lie. Anyway, Russia will stay away from me until I can stop shaking when I look at the icing tips.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If your BC is getting too soft while piping, you may have hot hands. I know I do. Try doubling up on the gloves. Two pair offers some buffer between heat and the unsuspecting buttercream. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. My internal thermostat broke 10 years ago and I’m always hot.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I use SMBC all the time, and, yes that could be part of the trouble. But I still blame the tips and their promise… If I do ever try to use them again, I’ll make some ABC. Thanks for that hint.

      I think these tips will end up at garage sales and then on the “free” sites as we give up on their false promises.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I wouldn’t even consider being friends with any other young puppy. First of all I think the one try that did succeed was worth all the agony. Secondly, thinking of what Navalny gets fed and we about him, do we really need russian tips right now (then again, I’m just listening to one of my favorite Shostakovitch pieces….)


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