Making a buttercream rose can be very challenging for new cake decorators, but once you figure it out it will like riding a bike. It’s difficult to suggest what kind of icing you should use to practice as everybody learns differently. Some people feel a very stiff icing, like a dry American buttercream, makes very nice buttercream roses. American buttercream made with shortening also holds its shape better and doesn’t melt as much in your hands as Swiss buttercream does. Below is a picture guide on how to make a buttercream rose – click here or scroll all the way to the bottom to skip straight to the video. Click any of the thumbnails for a larger picture.
Step 1: Prepare your piping bag with your rose tip. I like the 124 or 125 rose tip by Ateco. Keep in mind the size of your tip will affect the size of your rose – if it’s smaller than mine expect a smaller finished rose. Grip your rose nail with your fingers twisting them so the nail turns as far as it will go. Hold your piping bag so your tip has the fat end towards the bottom and the narrow end it towards the top. Place your tip right against the rose nail so the fat end is literally touching the rose nail. Without lifting the fat end of the tip off the rose nail, start angling the tip so the narrow end starts pointing away from you – stop once you form a 35-45 degree angle with the rose nail, the fat end of the tip, and the narrow end of the tip. Begin squeezing the icing and untwisting your fingers so the rose nail moves while your tip stays in place. It will take some practice but you need to match the speed you turn the rose nail to the amount of buttercream that is coming out.
Step 2: Continue turning the nail and piping until you complete a full rotation and you have met back up where you started piping. You should have a cone. This cone, along with step 3, is the structure for your rose. If these steps are not made strongly it will be very difficult to pipe petals.
Step 3: Create a second cone on top of your first cone to help build height and strength. Use the same methods outlined in step 1 and step 2 but instead building it right against the rose nail you are now pushing into the first cone and building it that way.
Step 5: Now that you have a strong cone made you can begin piping petals. Position your tip so the fat end is touching the rose nail and the bottom of the cone. Angle the tip so the narrow end is pointing away from you AND is also matching the angle of the cone.
Step 6: Begin piping the first petal. Remember to twist the rose nail as you’re piping but this time the tip is not being held still. Bring your tip up and down the cone as you’re twisting – you are not pulling away from the cone just going up and down the cone. Make sure to maintain the same angle as your starting position. After you pipe three petals you should be back at your starting position.
Step 8: For the next set of petals you will hold the piping tip with the fat end against the nose tail and the narrow end pointing straight up. Your rose nail and your piping tip should form a 90 degree angle.
Step 9: Using the same up and down motion as you used to make the bud, pipe five more petals. Remember to continue to hold the tip steady as you move up and down so it always stays pointing straight up and down. When you finish you’ll have a more open rose. You can use this on your rose spray as well or continue to step 10.
Step 10: To make a full buttercream rose hold your piping tip so the fat end is pointing away from you and the narrow end is pointing towards you. Point the fat end downward slightly – it should be about a 45 degree angle with the narrow end pointing upward and toward you. Hold your tip about half way up or slightly higher up the small rose.
Step 11: Begin piping the outermost petal as you twist the rose nail. You want to move the tip going slightly up and more dramatically down as you pipe and twist – holding the piping tip steady as you do this. When you finish piping your ending position should be lower than your starting position.
Step 12: Continue piping the outermost petals until you have 5 – 7 petals finished. Once you have finished you are now ready to move your finished buttercream rose onto your cake or rose spray. Take a pair of scissors, open the shears, and place them against the rose nail at the bottom of the rose. Try to position the scissors so the rose will wind up closer to the tip of shears. Close the scissors slightly so the rose is resting on the shears. You still want the shears to be slightly open because this gives you more stability while moving and positioning your rose. To place the rose, close the shears all the way and push off with the nail part of your rose nail.
To make a full rose spray you’ll need to pipe vines with a Wilton 2 or 3 tip or a writing tip. In addition, to really make your rose spray pop you should pipe plenty of leaves through the rose spray. I like using Wilton’s 352 tip for leaves. To pipe small buds directly onto the surface of the cake simply pipe out the icing while doing a slight “W” motion using the same tip you used for making the roses. It’s very easy to make buds, just practice on a scrap piece of paper first until you get them the way you like them.
Here is the video for making buttercream roses and below that are more pictures of making buttercream roses and a rose spray:
An updated video: