Learning how to fill pastry bags, hold pastry bags, and pipe simple shapes are fundamental skills of cake decorating. Piping nozzles are very useful tools and can be used in so many different ways. Most of the cupcakes are decorated with buttercream, using different piping nozzles. You can use buttercream piping to decorate your cake borders. Piped borders give cakes finished and professional look. There are several simple, classic borders that are easy to master. The size and shape of each border will vary, depending on the piping tip you’re using.
Piping nozzles can also be used for writing. The writing on a cake can make or break the cake. Amazingly decorated cake can easily be ruined with messy or uneven letters. Mastering writing can take lot of practice, which is why many decorators prefer letter moulds or alphabet cutters instead. There are also letter press tools available, that you can use to emboss the words on your cake and then pipe over with buttercream or royal icing.
Cakers tip: Practice piping words on a sheet of baking paper, instead of going straight on a cake.
Piping nozzles can also be used to make your own royal icing decorations. Commercially made royal icing decorations can be found in cake supply stores, but decorations can also be made at home. These decorations need time to dry, so need to be made at least a day ahead, but can be made weeks or even months earlier.
Pastry bags or piping bags come in many different sizes and materials. They can be refillable or single use disposable, each come with different pros and cons. The smaller the piping bag, the easier it is to control it and work with it, but they do have to be filled more often. A larger size bags have to be filled less often, but will be more difficult to control. You should always choose a bag that you feel comfortable to work with.
Cakers tip: Each time pastry bags are refilled; there is a build up of air. Before beginning to pipe again, squeeze the piping bag to release the trapped air, otherwise a large airbubble will interrupt the piping can completely ruin your work.
Reusable Piping Bags
Reusable piping bags are economical to use as you can use them over and over again. Reusable pastry bags vary in size, weight and material. Refillable piping bags are usually made out of cotton fabric, but can be also made out of silicone. Larger size piping bags are good for piping batter, such as cupcakes, where smaller ones work well for decorating.
Disposable Piping Bags
Disposable pastry bags are convenient and hygienic to use, saving you also time, as no cleaning is required since the bags are single use only. Disposable piping bags may seem as a waste of plastic but there are new “green piping bags” out on a market now that are biodegradable and eco friendly.
Standard disposable piping bags are made out of plastic, but if you have no piping bags in hand, you can make some easily, using baking paper. These baking paper piping bags are lightweight, inexpensive and easy to make. They often don’t even need piping nozzle, when you need just simple round opening.
A coupler is used to interchange piping nozzles while using the same pastry bag. It saves you filling up several different piping bags. Couplers also help keep the icing from seeping. Using a coupler isn’t a must, but it definitely makes you decorating easier and quicker.
Piping tips are usually made out of stainless steel, but can also be made out of plastic. There are huge variety of shapes and sizes available. It is important to keep the piping tip clean and free of build up icing, for crisp and precise piping.
Round piping tips are used in a variety of piping. They are good for lines, swirls, dots, balls, writing, stringwork, lacework and more. Round piping nozzle are most common and it is good to have variety of them in your inventory.
Star piping tips are used for many borders, star flowers and rosettes. Star piping nozzles are available in closed and open star. Drop flower tips look similar to star piping nozzles, but the centre has a post. The post creates flowers with an empty centre and full and detailed flower petals. Petal and ruffle piping nozzles have a long teardrop shape that produces lovely rose petals, carnations and simple ruffles. Multi opening piping nozzles are ideal for piping grass, fur, hair, strings, beads and flower centres.
Russian Piping Nozzles
These are only new piping tips that have been out couple of years and aren’t your traditional piping nozzles. There are two main ones out – instant flower piping nozzles and instant ruffle piping nozzles. As the name suggest they make instant shapes with one squeeze. Russian piping nozzles come in sets, so you can make variety of flowers and ruffles. Russian piping tips do need a little bit of practice and good consistency of buttercream but once you get hang of it they are easy to use, and make great looking decorations.
Sultane Piping Nozzles
Sultane piping tips are also new style and have been out only a short time. Sultane piping nozzles are extra large size tips and are good for making cookies or meringues. They can also be used to decorate cupcakes, with one simple squeeze you can decorate the whole cupcake.
Cakers tip: When using piping nozzle with a small opening, it is important to sift the icing sugar before mixing it in your icing. If the tips get clogged, a toothpick or a straight pin can unclog the nozzle. But this is only temporary solution as the piece that was clogging the piping tip, will be pushed back into the icing and will more then likely return soon.