How to Fill a Piping Bag with Icing

By zoe, Sun, 01/30/2011 - 10:15am

Many people wonder how we get our cupcakes to turn out so pretty. While we use a variety of techniques (colors, toppings, custom artwork) to get the looks we want, the simplest and most important thing we do is to pipe the icing onto our cupcakes instead of just glorping it on willy nilly.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Icing

Many people wonder how we get our cupcakes to turn out so pretty. While we use a variety of techniques (colors, toppings, custom artwork) to get the looks we want, the simplest and most important thing we do is to pipe the icing onto our cupcakes instead of just glorping it on willy nilly. Piped icing makes cupcakes taller, more elegant, and in my opinion more tempting. It's not overly difficult to learn to work with a piping bag, but it does take some practice. This is something you can do at home. Yes you. One stumbling block in learning to pipe is that it can be challenging and messy to get the icing from the bowl into the bag. Basically, I want you to avoid the frustration of getting the icing all over your hands, tools (and possibly floor) when you really just want it to end up on your cupcakes. We'll start you out with a solid foundation for your icing adventures. Neat freaks--this lesson is for you!

Icing Piping Tools of the Trade

What You'll Need 1. A bowl of fresh room temperature icing. In this example, we're using our vanilla meringue buttercream. 2. A reusable piping bag. We mostly use Ateco brand, but what you're looking for is a sturdy bag that's fairly large so you don't have to refill it too many times while you are working. If you only plan to make small batches, then a smaller bag will do just fine. We like to use piping bags that have a grommet (metal hole) or fabric loop at the top so we can hang them up to dry more quickly after cleaning. If your bag doesn't have these features, you can easily dry them over an over-turned glass prior to storage. 3. A large piping tip. For this example I'm using an open star tip. 4. A rubber spatula. 5. A plastic bowl scraper that has a straight edge. and your secret weapon... 6. A Ben Franklin mug. OK, it doesn't have to be this particular mug--just a tall glass that's about this shape. But seriously, isn't this mug wild? It was made by our decorator Casey Ray's BF Brian Czibesz, who is an amazing ceramic artist. If he doesn't open an Etsy shop soon, we're going to have to smack him around a little! Or something.

Ben Franklin Mug by Bryan Czibesz

Let's get started!

Drop your piping tip into the bag.

Drop your tip down into the piping bag, small side down. Notice I am not using a plastic coupler here - it's not really necessary unless you're going to be switching the tip a lot with the same icing in the bag. We just use lots of bags at the bakery, usually one per flavor.

Curl the piping bag around the glass.

Take your newly tipped bag and put it into your tall glass or mug. Putting the bag in a mug or glass just makes it easier if you are new to the experience. Fold the top edges of the bag down around the outside of the glass, about halfway down. Congratulations, you are ready to fill your bag withe that delicious icing you just made (or bought...we won't tell)! Once you are more comfortable with the process, you can fold the bag over one hand and fill it with the other. More advanced decorators won't need the glass.

Above, you can see the no-glass method.

Start transferring icing into your piping bag.

Grab your trusty spatula and start transferring icing into the bag. Don't worry if you get icing on the edges. You turned it inside out for a reason. You will be filling it about halfway, which will allow you enough control of what you are piping, plus give you something to hold onto at the top. Fill the piping bag about yea high. Lift the filled piping bag up by the edges. Once you've filled the bag up to the edge of the glass, or maybe just a little higher, lift the bag up by the edges and gently shake everything down toward the tip. Satisfying, right? Use your bowel scraper to push all the icing down toward the tip. Take the flat edge of your bowl scraper and push any remaining icing down. Give the piping bag a couple of twists. Grasp the top of the bag and give it a twist or two to make the icing snug and cozy inside. Happy icing is our friend. Squeeze any trapped air out of the tip. Holding the bag as pictured, squeeze a little icing back into your bowl to get rid of any air pockets. A finished piping bag! You now have a perfectly filled icing bag that is ready to begin decorating delicious cupcakes! While we're on the subject of lessons, Whipped Bakeshop is now offering classes! The people have demanded to learn mad skills, and we shall oblige them! If you're ready to take your decorating to the next level and really blow the pantaloons off your family and friends with amazing desserts, you owe it to yourself to check it out! Fun fact: The ability to make amazing desserts will make you 80% more attractive, 12% smarter and, like, way wealthier. It's true. Ask anyone. I just found $100 in my shoe, for serious.

Tags: Cupcakes how to icing

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