Want to transform your next homemade cake into a beautiful work of art? The key is all in the piping! Follow these tips from baker extraordinaire Ruth Clemens’ book The Busy Girl’s Guide to Cake Decorating, and your next cake will be as pretty as it is delicious.
Preparing and filling a piping (pastry) bag:
1. Snip 1/2 inch from end of a piping (a.k.a. pastry) bag and drop in piping nozzle (a.k.a. tip) you are using. Pull nozzle down into end of bag so that it sits tightly (photo 1).
2. To fill, insert end of bag into a glass or a jug and fold end of bag over outside (photo 2). It’s now super easy to fill with icing.
3. Once bag is filled, remove from glass or jug. Squeeze icing down toward nozzle and twist bag behind it to stop it from leaking out. Take care not to overfill bag, otherwise you’ll end up in a sticky mess!
4. Hold bag in your dominant hand, laying it across your palm between your thumb and forefinger. Grip bag with your hand and apply pressure from top down toward nozzle (photo 3). Support tip of bag lightly with forefinger of your opposite hand. You are now ready to pipe!
Piping a shell border with royal icing:
1. To pipe a shell border, fit piping bag with a no. 8 or no. 43 star nozzle and fill bag as described previously.
2. Hold tip of bag at a 45-degree angle to cake in your starting position. Keeping position still, squeeze bag until royal icing forms shell size you are looking for. Release pressure, stopping your squeeze and then pull bag away in direction of border.
3. Position nozzle 3/16 inch from first shell shape and repeat process. Squeeze bag until shell joins previous one and then pull away in direction you are moving. Repeat all the way around cake.
Piping swirls with buttercream icing:
1. To pipe buttercream swirls onto tops of cupcakes, first prepare a batch of buttercream (buttercream recipe is included in book.)
2. Fit a large piping bag with a large open star nozzle (Wilton 1M) and fill bag as described previously. Squeeze buttercream down bag toward nozzle.
3. In your leading hand, hold bag as you would a smaller bag for royal icing piping. Position tip hovering just above cupcake at outside edge of cake.
4. Apply an even pressure to bag and start to pipe buttercream, moving in a circular motion around outside edge of cupcake as buttercream flows. Move around cupcake in one continuous motion in decreasing circles until you reach center.
5. Keeping nozzle in center, release pressure to stop buttercream flow and lift bag upward and away.