Elegant cupcakes hit the sweet spot

The Yomiuri Shimbun

“Deco cupcakes” inspired by colorful hydrangea and made with butter cream

By Midori Yamamura / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterCupcakes elaborately adorned with cream and toppings are catching the public’s eye because of their colorful, camera-ready look. The small decorated cakes, called “deco cupcakes,” are perfect for posting on social media and adding color to parties, and make a smart present, too.

“Deco cupcakes can be made easily with ingredients and utensils available at home,” said Emi Funaki, who runs a confectionery cooking school at her house in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Funaki introduced me to several of her colorful creations.

First were hydrangea-inspired cupcakes topped with lovely, butter-cream decorations that provide a sense of the season. They are also easy for a novice to make.

Funaki mixed food coloring — which can be bought at baking supply and other shops — into the butter cream to add floral hues. For example, to re-create the color gradation of purple hydrangea, she prepared two types of cream — purple and unpigmented — and poured the purple cream into one side of an icing bag and the colorless cream into the other side. She then squeezed the mixture onto the cake from its center.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Cupcakes inspired by a pink dress

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Cupcakes with sugar-paste decorations

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

Funaki next shared her recipe for rose-shaped cupcakes, which also use butter cream.

Put 50 grams of salt-free, room-temperature butter into a bowl and mix it using a handheld electric beater until soft. Add 100 grams of powdered sugar and mix it in with a spatula. Then add half a tablespoon of room-temperature milk and a few drops of vanilla flavoring before mixing it again with an electric beater (on a fast setting) until creamy (Photo 1).

Drizzle blue food coloring little by little onto the butter cream using a toothpick and mix it in with a spatula (Photo 2).

Attach a star nozzle to an icing bag and fill it with cream. Squeeze the cream onto the cake starting from its center and spiraling outward (Photo 3).

As a finishing touch, place dragees — small silver-colored balls — on the end of the squeezed cream (Photo 4).

“Butter cream melts easily,” Funaki said. “If the cream becomes too soft, pour it into an icing bag and cool it in the refrigerator.”

When baking the cupcakes yourself, you should chill them before adding decorations. Funaki recommends slicing off the tops of the cupcakes to flatten them so they are easier to decorate.

The instructor also demonstrated how to use sugar paste to make decorations in the shapes of flowers and ribbon.

“Sugar paste allows you to craft more elaborate three-dimensional shapes,” Funaki said.

Cupcakes are enjoying a minor renaissance in Japan thanks to an increase in specialty shops.

“Deco cupcakes are visually appealing and also tasty,” she said. “They make teatime a richer experience.”

To find out more about Japan’s attractions, visit


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