The Basics: Pastry Bags & Tips


Baking & Pastry Essentials

The Profile

Pastry Bags & Tips

This refresher tutorial is designed to offer pointers for decorating all types of items such as game day fan fare but it is especially relevant when Christmas cookies are in the making. I hope you find it to be informative & helpful so your projects & tasks become more manageable.

Pastry bags come in handy for a multitude of large & small tasks in the kitchen. Fit with an array of tips, they can guide in decorating cakes, pies & beautiful cookies made with sugar that result in a flawless finish. There are several options available when choosing piping bags & tips. Luckily, they have become mainstream enough that you can purchase them from super centers & craft warehouses, not just specialty cake supply stores.

The Pastry Bags

If speedy clean up ranks high on your list, look for disposable pastry bags. The 12-count box filled with 12-inch size bags will work well for small tasks & occasional party prep. For someone a bit more dedicated to decorating cakes on a regular basis, look for a more professional, reusable grade bag. A 16-inch plastic coated bag will be nice & sturdy with the need to refill less. The bonus is the option to use the bag over & over again. The one thing to consider when investing in a professional grade bag is that when you snip the end, you’ll be locked in to certain tip sizes so it may be a good idea to pick up several.

The Pastry Tips

Pastry tip sets offer a wide variety of decorating options. If you’re interested in more specialty work, definitely make the minor investment but you can certainly pick them up individually, too. You’ll find a few different star tip sizes plus a slew of additional styles each designed to create specific decorations including roses, leaves, ruffles, stars & so much more. Star tips double in producing shell borders with a quick swipe & drag technique. The round tips come in handy for piping words, dot borders & swags on the cake sides. I find these to be absolutely indispensable & have several in specific sizes that I use quite often.

Pastry tips are assigned numbers for easy reference. My collection begins with a #00, a teeny little Ateco brand round tip that I like to use for fine dot detail on cookies for baby showers. Within each numerical series, you’ll find a slightly larger tip of the same design. Generally, a standard set of tips whether they’re from the Ateco or Wilton brand, starts with the round design ranging from a #1 to a #12 plus a few slight variations such as the #00 or a #1A which is a good bit larger than a #12. The next sequence includes a series of open star tips, #13 to #22 followed by the closed star tips, #23 to #35. This numerical coding continues on with a plethora of design styles. The take away is that the larger the number in the series, the larger the decoration once piped. Some of my favorite pieces are the extra large professional tips I received in culinary school. They make piping a batch of cupcakes a breeze. The numerical sequence jumps considerably but the graduated size within the series remains the same. My go-to tips for tasks of this nature include a plain #9807 or a #9824 star tip.

The Coupler

A coupler comes in 2 pieces made from plastic. The idea is that you can drop one piece into a pastry bag, then fit a tip with the other piece on the outside of the bag. A coupler allows you to change out the tips for different design techniques while decorating without the need to use another pastry bag. A coupler can be used on a disposable or professional grade piping bag.

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{testing notes}

How To Use A Pastry Bag

Pastry bags are ideal to use when decorating cookies & cakes for sure. Use them to fill pastries or finish a party-perfect batch of deviled eggs or adorable laces on football themed items. Follow my flawless tips for mastering this valuable craft.

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A few pieces of equipment will be necessary in order to complete the task. Read through the instructions before beginning. Here’s what you should know.

No. 1

The Logistics

A disposable bag works well for small tasks. Gage the tip size & snip the pastry bag at the end with scissors. It’s better to start small. You can always cut again rather than have the tip fall through the opening. Slip the pastry tip into the bag & be certain the fit is snug. Tug the bag upwards to ensure that’s the case. Fold one third of the bag over & hold the bag upright in one hand. Fill about halfway with frosting or filling using a rubber spatula. Do not to overfill the bag as you’ll have better control.

No. 2

The Procedure

Unfold the bag & push the frosting down into the tip. Simultaneously, press out any air bubbles. Twist the empty portion of the bag & allow it to rest just above the frosting. Place the twisted portion between your thumb & forefinger. Gently press the icing a bit to release some of the air. Hold the bag over the surface of what you’ll be decorating. Apply steady, even pressure & pipe away. Guide the bag with your forefinger from the other hand.

No. 3

The Clean Up

Remove the tip from the bag & rinse well under hot water. Dry the tip thoroughly to prevent any rust from forming. If a reusable bag was used, turn the bag inside out. Rinse thoroughly with hot water. Wipe the bag dry with a lint-free cloth. Return the bag to the original side. Set the bag upright in a cone shape & allow to dry further.

The Tune
“Come What May” Etta James

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About Rebecca Gordon

* Southern Born * Southern Bred * Tailgate Queen * Football Fanatic * Buttermilk Lipstick Culinary & Entertaining Techniques Instructor * Cooking & Baking Tutorials * Media Personality * Baking & Pastry Artist * Gardener * Runner * Retainer of Useless Pop Culture One Liners * Terrible Dancer * Even Worse Singer * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Rebecca Gordon shares over 20 years of cooking knowledge in the instructional filled original editorial content on Buttermilk Lipstick as well as the cooking class format videos that can be found on her YouTube channel through regular collaboration with numerous media outlets. Gordon draws from an extensive background in corporate publishing spanning over 13 years on both the business and editorial side focusing on women’s southern lifestyle. She is a classically trained pastry chef and draws from fine dining restaurant experience from a James Beard award winning chef as well as her southern roots upbringing to share cooking, entertaining & style content relevant to today’s modern woman.

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