Introduction to cake decorating
Introduction to pastry bags
There are numerous types of pastry bags available. One of the most popular are pastry bags that are made of;
- Plastic coated
- Paper cones
Each pastry bag is tailored to the task at hand, so it would be best to have numerous bags used specifically for one purpose, for example, piping borders around cakes, etc. There is no bag that is most preferable by pastry chefs because it all depends on personal preference. The best would be by trial and error. As an all-purpose bag one could use a 16” canvas bag although for cake decorating a paper cone or a polyurethane pastry bag is the best.
Polyurethane pastry bags
Polyurethane bags are easy to clean and can be used over and over again. They have a relatively higher cost than the other bags.
Canvas pastry bags
Canvas bags are best when working with thicker fillings. Can handle heat but they are difficult to clean.
Plastic coated pastry bags
Plastic coated bags are easy to clean. They are designed for heavy duty use. They can be stiff for some uses, but have an excellent grip.
Disposable bags are the easiest to use, since you discard them after each use. They can be used with a coupler. They are not environmentally friendly and expensive to use if you use too many during your work day. They are not so great for decorating cakes (making borders, etc). Cannot be used with thick fillings.
Paper cones give you excellent control when decorating cakes. When using paper cones you may use butter cream, piping jelly, or royal icing.
Pasty bag tips to use
Pastry tips are also called pastry tubes. There is a vast number of tips available. Each tip is made for a specific use.
The most common tips used are the round tips and the star tips. The round tips are used for making pâte a choux, profiterols, eclairs, or simply to pipe different types of cream in between cake layers.
The star tips are used for decorating cakes, for example, adding shell borders all around the top of a cake.
The size of the tip varies depending on the size of the cake. It would not be esthetically pleasing to the eye if you used a large star tip to make large shells on an 6" or 8" diameter cake.
You also have some specialized tips for example, the famous Saint-honoré tip and other tips especially formulated for making leafs or roses using buttercream.
Understanding the numbers on pastry tips
You may come across two similar tips that do NOT have the same number. That’s because different manufacturers use their own numbers on the same tip or set or tips. For example one tip from a set of tips, may have the number 867. The smaller tip having the number 866, and the larger tips 868. The tip numbered 867 for simplicity can be referred as tip #7. Tip 866 would be tip #6, etc.
Using couplers with pastry bags
Couplers can be used whenever more than one tip is needed for finishing a cake. In such a situation the coupler would make your life easier, by letting you use numerous tips and a single pasty bag to complete your task. Simply unscrew the coupler and change from one tip to another. If different colors are used you will need to use 3 different pastry bags with the identical tip. More on this topic will be available soon.
Hygiene and pastry bags
When using pastry bags, hygiene must be strictly followed without any exceptions. For example, after every use, a pastry bag needs to be thoroughly rinsed with warm to hot running water. Once rinsed it should be soaked in soapy water and scrubbed to get rid of all bacteria. Once soaked in soapy water it should be rinsed under hot water an let hang to air dry. One way to always have super clean pastry bags at all times, is to have more than a few bags available, so when one bag gets washed you may use another clean dry bag until the first one dries.
For more information on the subject, see our step by step video tutorials on pastry bags, tips, couplers, and paper cones (members only).
The origins of a pastry bag (Pastry Bag - Why Do We Need to Use it)
Importance on writing on a cake (Paper cones and the art of writing)
What it takes to become an accomplished cake decorator (Pastry Bag - Why Do We Need to Use it)