Cakes and other beautifully decorated treats are often the centerpieces of every dinner table. Using the many tools at your disposal, you can create awe-inspiring designs that are sure to wow your guests. When you stock your kitchen with icing nozzles, cake turntables, and piping bags, get ready to bake cakes and other desserts that are almost too beautiful to eat!
One of the most important tools in your arsenal, piping nozzles are an easy way to create a range of designs featured on cakes and cupcakes. There are tons of different types of piping nozzles that can be used in any way your heart desires, leaving a lot of room for creativity when it comes to decorating your pastries. You can create leaves with leaf nozzles, basket weave patterns with specialty nozzles, or simply create pretty flowers and other intricate patterns with star-shaped piping nozzles. You can also use round nozzles to create smooth, round finishes that look great on cupcakes. All of these—the only exception being round nozzles—have a totally different effect when dragged across the cake rather than pressed in place to create their respective shapes.
The piping bag contains whatever decorating medium you are using in your recipe. Many decorators advise using disposable piping bags rather than the reusable kind because they tend to be very difficult to clean and cause more hassle than they are worth. To setup get your desired star nozzle, coupler, and piping bag, drop the coupler into the bag and cut off the end, making sure to leave a little bit of extra bag past the coupler. Then, put on the nozzle by securing it with the other half of the coupler. Don’t overstuff your bag with frosting; you should only fill it about two-thirds of the way up. Taking extra precautions, simply push the frosting down towards the nozzle using a spatula or bowl scraper to maintain pressure in the frosting. Lastly, twist the end of the bag closed and squeeze!
This handy baking tool allows you to spin the cake itself rather than having to move around it to create borders and other decorations. Cake turntables are very simple in design but can turn your cake into a perfectly symmetrical, world-class pastry.
When using a piping bag, there are three key aspects that you must account for: angle, pressure, and count. Angle is the tilt at which you hold the piping bag relative to the pan. Pressure is the amount of force that you use to squeeze the cream out of the bag. Count is the amount of time you are squeezing the piping bag. Using these three variables, you can get extremely creative when decorating.
Using star nozzles is relatively simple. You just apply medium pressure to the piping bag and drag it in your desired shape. You can also press down in one spot while applying pressure to the bag, then stop squeezing and lift to create flower shapes with star nozzles. There are two different categories of star nozzles: open star nozzles and closed star nozzles. Open star nozzles create dandelion-like designs while closed nozzles create a more gapped and defined flower shape with sharp edges.
The decorating technique for round nozzles is very similar to star nozzles: just squeeze and then drag/swirl to achieve your desired décor. If you are using a very small round nozzle, you can create intricate drawings as if you are using a pencil. It creates very thin lines of cream; being successful at this technique takes a very steady and talented hand, but a little practice is all it takes to achieve your desired results.
Leaf nozzles take a little more time to master but with some practice, you can make perfect leaves consistently. With the leaf nozzle, you must apply more pressure towards the beginning, which adds presence to the body of the leaf. Then, quickly pull away and relieve pressure to create the perfect leaf shape.
Another neat piping nozzle is the basket weave nozzle, which looks wonderful on cakes. All you have to do to create a professional looking basket weave design is make one long vertical line across your cake. Then, make smaller lines horizontally over the vertical line and repeat all the way across your cake. Another specialty piping tip is the grass nozzle. It creates an abstract yet pretty grass-like effect; it can also be used as fur for animals. You might not use these often, but it is still useful to include them as part of your baking arsenal for creating quirky and unique designs.
Hold your piping bag at a 45-degree angle, squeeze with your backhand, not your guiding hand, and make circular or ellipse-shaped ovals to produce beautiful spiral borders and designs.
Keep your piping bag at a 45-degree angle and squeeze for three seconds with medium pressure, then relieve pressure and pull the tip back toward you.
Hold your piping bag at a vertical 90-degree angle. Squeeze with medium-high intensity for three seconds, let go, and then pull up.
Hold the bag at a 90-degree angle and rotate the tip in a tight, counter-clockwise circle, less than half an inch away from the surface.
It takes time and practice to master the art of baking, but it’s well worth the effort, especially when you make your day (or someone else’s) a little sweeter with professionally looking cakes and pastries. Stay tuned for more baking tips from Ne-Mo’s Baking Basics blog series!