Using a piping bag

There are many occasions when you might want to use a piping bag, whether they be sweet or savory. The most common sweet treats that come to mind are usually cakes and cupcakes. A piping bag can come in handy for piping the decorations on a gingerbread house or even for piping mashed potatoes back into the skins in your twice-baked potato recipe. Any way you slice it, the steps to preparing your pastry bag remain the same.

First, let’s start off with the equipment that you will need for piping:

  • Pastry bags
  • Scissors
  • A plastic coupler and ring
  • Pastry tips

Try using a 12-inch pastry bags, especially for a gingerbread house, where a larger bag would get in the way. Any kind of pastry tips will work, but for straight lines, a #10 plain round tip is good for bolder lines and a #2 plain round tip is best for finer lines.

It’s a good idea to use a pastry coupler if you intend to change pastry tips, like from a star-shaped tip to a writing tip, and so on, for your project. Otherwise, if you just slip the metal pastry tip into the bag without a coupler, you’d have to completely empty the bag to change tips. Or you would have to start another pastry bag and have three or four with different tips going at the same time. It’s doable, but it’s not a good use of time or cost-effective with the number of supplies you’d go through.

HOW TO ASSEMBLE A PASTRY BAG

How To Assemble A Pastry Bag For Icing

These instructions for how to assembly a pastry bag with icing with teach you how to decorate cakes and cupcakes like a boss.

My daughter and I took a Wilton cake decorating class together and learned how to use their decorating tips for cakes and cupcakes. It was so fun because growing up I did not cook much so I love learning every technique and tip I can. Her’s turned out so cute I couldn’t resist sharing it.

SUPPLIES:

You will need Wilton Disposable Decorating Bags. I recommend these because they are disposable which means no washing is involved, but if you want plastic ones to re-use then I recommend these Wilton Piping Bags.

You will need a Wilton Coupler. This is what holds the decorating tip in place.

You will need decorating tips. Michael’s sells them individually or you can buy a 28-piece set.

If you ever wondered how to get filling inside cupcakes use a Wilton round tip #230. (the long tip shown below)

For cupcakes I recommend using a 1M Wilton tip. You can see what that design looks like on my Candy Corn cupcakes.

ASSEMBLY:

This is the most important step.

Unscrew the coupler. Place the large piece inside the bag. Measure how much of the tip you will need to cut off. It doesn’t take much. You will cut off a tiny bit for thin icing such as making letters, and you will cut off a tad more for icing.

Experiment with the icing, you can always cut off more if you need to. If you cut off too much the coupler will come out when squeezing out the icing.

Cut just where the grooves begin. (shown below)

This process applies to both disposable and re-usable bags.

Once you have your coupler on and tip cut, you can change out tips if you are doing several different designs, such as a fancy cake.

After you cut off the tip of the pastry bag it should look like this.

Assemble the coupler on the outside of the bag by first adding your tip, then screw the coupler on over the tip, as shown. The coupler is what holds the tip in place.

Some of Wilton’s tips are very large and will not fit on a coupler. For those tips, you will cut off the tip of the bag and drop the tip into the bag. Again, making sure you do not cut off too much. Test it. You can always cut more off if you need to.

FILLING THE BAG:

Use this method for plastic or disposable bags. Put the bag inside a tall cup and fold the edges over the cup.

Using a spoon or a spatula, fill the bag with icing or meringue, whichever you are using.

You want it full so fill it to the top of the cup, but still giving your bag room to twist it closed at the top. (shown below)

Remove the bag and twist the top a few times to close the top. This will prevent the icing from coming out at the top.

Grip the top of the bag and squeeze it until icing comes out. If your coupler comes out that means the hole is too big and you will need to make another bag not cutting the end so much. But that’s ok! Keep doing it until you get the hang of it!

If it doesn’t turn out the way you want the first time, keep practicing! Practice makes perfect for this project. The more you experiment the easier it becomes!

CLEANING:

Using a small brush or toothbrush clean your tips, coupler, and bad if you used a re-usable one, immediately after you are finished.

SHOP

Items shown in this tutorial:

28-piece set Wilton tips | disposable bags | re-usable bags| coupler | star tip | filling tip

Items used to bake cupcakes and cakes:

muffin cupcake pan | cupcake liners | cake batter bowl | mixing bowls | | oven mitt | spatulas | stand mixer | hand mixer | oven thermometer | 3-piece cake stand | pedestal cake stand | bakeware set

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How to assemble a piping bag

  • Use a piping bag like a pro

    Assembling a piping bag the right way is what separates pros from amateurs among bakers and pastry chefs. A neatly applied icing, ganache, or jam can turn any simple cake into a masterpiece. You only need a well-sealed piping bag and some practice, and nothing will stand between you and your successful pastry-experience. Just follow these simple steps to prepare your tools of trade.

  • Technik

    Cut off the bottom of the piping bag at the designated mark. Be careful, you might need a different bag for each coupler, since the openings may vary in size. Depending on purpose and consistency of the filling, choose the adequate tip and insert it into the top part of the coupler. Now, push the bottom part of the coupler through the bag, which should still cover the screw threads of the coupler, and screw the upper part against the bottom part. Your piping bag is now ready to use! After filling, twist the upper half of the bag to seal, so that you can squeeze the desired amount of filling through the tip. For a neat result, use one hand to keep the bag shut and squeeze it while you guide the tip with your free hand. Now you are ready to decorate your cakes and pies, make churros or cookies, and feel like a professional confectioner!

Beginner Basics: How to Use a Piping Bag

When you’re learning to decorate cakes, knowing how to use a piping bag is an essential skill. It may look tricky, but with a little bit of guidance and lots of handy tips, your piping work will only get better! Check out our advice on how to use a piping bag below.

Simple Piping, Stunning Results

Simple Piping, Stunning Results

Learn easy techniques for exciting piped designs.Enroll Today

Choosing the right piping materials

Disposable vs. reusable piping bags

There are different types of piping bags on the market, and one of the first decisions you’ll have to make when shopping for bags is between disposable piping bags and reusable piping bags !

Disposable piping bags

We typically use disposable piping bags because they are much more convenient. Because they’re made of thin plastic, they tend to be less stiff, which means you get much more control over your piping work.

Reusable piping bags

Reusable piping bags are typically fabric-coated bag that can be washed, dried and then used again. These are great options for those who don’t pipe often and for those who don’t want to accumulate too much stuff or create a lot of waste.

Choosing your piping tips

When it comes to piping tips, there are a heck of a lot of different shapes, sizes and styles. The key is to test them all and find which ones you like best.

Choosing the right type of piping tip

There are all kinds of specialty tips, like the Ateco tips pictured above, which create pretty ruffles. You’ll also find more specialty piping tips that pipe out flowers (Russian piping nozzles) or foliage (leaf tips).

These are fun tools to have in your arsenal, but if you’re just learning how to use a piping bag, you’re better off learning with the basics. This guide includes the most essential piping tips to start with. A beginner-friendly piping tip set like the Wilton Master Tip Set can also help you get started without much shopping around.

What to look for

We generally stick to certain brands for certain jobs. For examples, Ateco’s large piping tips are perfect for adding buttercream swirls on cupcakes, while we prefer PME’s Supatubes for intricate royal icing work .

Avoid buying nozzles with an obvious seam on the inside. This can cause trouble in your piping work: A heavily seamed piping tip can leave an indented line along your frosting or cause finer piping work to come out skewed to one side. Look inside of the nozzle for the seam, and if you can’t see one, then feel inside the tip for a raised edge.

How to use a piping bag

Adding a piping tip to your decorating bag

Before you do anything else, you need to add the piping tip to your bag. There are two ways to do this.

The first option is to snip off the tip of a disposable piping bag and slide the tip into the bag and fit it into the opening.

The other option is using a coupler . A coupler is a two-part plastic device that allows you to remove a piping tip and re-attach another in its place. Decorators often use couplers when they want to use the same piping nozzle with multiple bags of frostings or royal icing or when they want to use multiple tips with one type of frosting.

The first piece looks a little like a piping tip. Slide this part inside the bag, near the tip; then, snip off the end of your piping bag so there’s an opening. Then, put your piping tip in place and use the second piece (which looks like a ring) to screw it in place.

How to fill up a piping bag

Lots of people who are new to piping have trouble filling up decorating bags. We have an easy trick: all you need is a tall cup or glass.

After fitting your bag with a piping tip, place the bag into a tall glass, tip side down. Fold over the end of the bag to form a cuff around the top of your cup. Now you can easily scoop or pour your frosting in.

When working with runnier frostings (like flooding-consistency royal icing or macaron batter ), fold over or twist the bag just above piping tip. Tis will stop your mixture from flowing out of the bottom

How to use two colors of icing in one piping bag

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try playing with different colors of frostings in one piping bag. Here’s how:

Add one color down one side of the bag, leaving room on the opposite side. Then add the second color in the empty space.

Another fun trick is to “paint” the inside of your bag with food coloring gel just before filling up with buttercream. When you pipe, you’ll start to see streaks of color appear in the frosting.

How to hold a piping bag

The way you hold a piping bag depends on what you are doing and what you feel comfortable with. Different techniques and materials call for varying levels of control.

For example, you don’t need as much control for piping a cupcake as you would for piping intricate lace-like details on a wedding cake.

For swirling lots of buttercream onto cupcakes, we’d suggest piping directly from above and holding your bag vertically, not at an angle (just like in the image above). We begin at the center of each cupcake, because it’s generally easier to mess up piping from the outside in.

Royal icing detail tends to be fine, so you need to work close to the surface. You’ll find that it’s easiest to hold your bag close to the surface and at an angle. It also helps to stabilize your piping hand by either resting it on a flat surface or guiding it with your other hand.

Practice makes perfect

As you pipe, keep an eye on your speed and pressure. Beginners tend to pipe slowly at first, which can result in shaky piping work. Pressure is also important. Press too hard and your frosting or royal icing will gush out; press too softly and you’ll have some wobbly work. As you get used to piping, this will improve — so don’t worry, just keep trying!

Simple Piping, Stunning Results

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Pastry Bags and Piping Tips

A pastry bag and a few piping tips come in handy for more than just cake decorating—like piping potatoes over a shepherd’s pie or stuffing baked goods with fillings. In Fine Cooking issue #108, we’re using them to make Rosemary-Lemon Tartlets with Pine Nut Shortbread, Lemon-Gingersnap Mini Meringues, and a Salty Caramel Croquembouche with Ricotta Cream.

Types of pastry bags

Pastry bags are made from various materials—each with different pros and cons—and are available in lengths ranging from 7 to 24 inches.

Canvas bags are great for working with stiff doughs and purées, but they’re difficult to keep clean.

Plastic-lined cloth bags can manage the heavy-duty tasks, too, and the plastic lining makes them far easier to clean.

Nylon bags are supple, comfortable to use, and easy to clean, but they can become slippery with use and tend to be less durable than cloth bags.

Disposable plastic bags make for the easiest clean-up since you toss them when you’re done. But that also makes them wasteful, and ultimately, expensive.

The ideal scenario is to have two or more types and sizes of pastry bags and tailor your choice to the task at hand. But if you’d rather have one all-purpose bag, choose a 14- to 16-inch plastic-lined cloth bag. Any larger and you’ll struggle to handle it; any smaller and you’ll need to refill constantly.

Types of piping tips

These are made of plastic or metal and come in a mind-boggling number of shapes and sizes for piping everything from leaves to basketweave patterns, but plain tips and star tips are the most commonly used.

Choosing tips can be confusing because there’s no standardized sizing system. Some manufacturers stamp the size on the side of the tip. For example, the number 4 may indicate a 4-mm tip, but it may also just refer to a catalog number and have nothing to do with size. When in doubt, measure the tip’s opening to be sure.

You can buy tips individually or in sets. You may also want a plastic coupler, a two-part gadget that lets you switch tips without emptying the bag.

Care and keeping

Handwash bags and tips immediately after use with warm soapy water. If a bag has a loop, hang it to dry. Otherwise, stand it tip side up to dry. Towel-dry tips, then allow them to air-dry. If stored before thoroughly dry, bags may mold and tips may rust, and then they must be discarded.

How to use a pastry bag

Step one: If using a coupler, fit the funnel-like part into the bag (cut the end of the bag to accommodate it as necessary); then fit the tip onto the coupler from the outside of the bag and secure with the coupler ring. If not using a coupler, simply fit the tip into the bag. Step two: Fold down the top of the bag over your hand, like a cuff. Use a spatula to fill the bag about half full. Don’t overfill or it will be hard to handle.
Step three: Twist the bag closed until all of the air is purged from the bag and the filling is forced into the tip. Step four: To pipe, position your nondominant hand near the tip and use it to guide the tip as you squeeze the filling out with pressure at the top of the bag from your dominant hand. As you pipe, frequently twist the top of the bag to keep it tight around the filling.

Photos: Scott Phillips

First, here’s my #1 tip for filling a piping bag. Ready?

Don’t substitute a ziptop bag for one. The end.

Alright, I actually have more for you, but please remember: no baggies. They’re unwieldy, they explode, and they’re not the right shape or size. Promise me you won’t use those. Ok? Ok.

Now, let’s get to the business of filling a piping bag. These steps are for when you’re using a coupler and icing tips, or just an icing tip, or no tip at all.

If you’ve never used a coupler before, it’s a great little tool that allows you to switch icing tips without using a new piping bag. The coupler is in two pieces.

First, slide the large part of the coupler into the piping bag.

Cut the bag just past the end of the coupler. Some piping bag instructions will tell you to cut the bag at the threads. I find this leads to leaking bags. Leaking is not good.

Next, place the icing tip over the bag and onto the coupler.

Twist on the small part of the coupler to secure.

If you’re using a tip with no coupler (I use this method when I’m using a larger tip for frosting cupcakes), just push the tip into the bag and trim the piping bag so that about half of the tip sticks out.

If you’re not using a tip at all, that’s pretty easy. Just snip the end of the bag.

Now that the bag is prepared, fold down the top to make a cuff.

Hold the bag with your non-dominant hand inside the cuff.

With your dominant hand, spoon the icing or frosting into the bag. (It’s really tricky taking a picture of this step.) You can also use a tall glass to hold the cuffed bag if this feels uncomfortable. Fill the bag no more than 2/3 full.

Unfold the cuff, push the icing all the way down, and twist the bag where the icing ends.

If you’ll be working with the icing for a while, consider using bag ties or twist ties. I like to put one at the top of the icing and one near the top of the bag. That one at the top keeps dried bits of icing from escaping. It’s especially helpful when working with royal icing.

Voila! Happy piping!

Bridget

Bridget Edwards likes cookies. She’s been decorating them for over a decade and eating them for as long as she can remember. The author of two cookie books, Decorating Cookies and Decorating Cookies Party, Bridget believes: 1.) Cookies are made to be eaten, not to be perfect. 2.) Making pretty shouldn’t require an art degree or a fancy overhead projector. 3.) Your time is better spent EATING cookies with family and friends than slaving over decorating them. Bridget shares cookies and recipes for all things sweet on her blog, Bake at 350. She resides in the Lone Star State with her husband, teenage son, and two kitties.

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All the Tricks to Using a Piping Bag

Piping bags look so simple. I mean, you put your dough or icing into the bag and snip off the tip, and there you have it, right? Even a Ziploc bag will do in a pinch, according to every Pinterest post and baking show I’ve seen. So why is it that whenever I attempt such a thing I end up with meringue or dough or potatoes or icing all over the place, with gloppy messes on a baking sheet instead of the pristine little swirls they’re supposed to be? How, I ask, can you work a piping bag better? Thanks to a class about pastry, I finally found out, and I am here to pass on these helpful suggestions to you.

Use an Actual Piping Bag

This might sound like a “duh” kind of tip, but so deeply had I invested in the doctrine that Ziploc bags work just as well that I didn’t realize how much nicer it really is to have an actual piping bag. Yes, a Ziploc bag will do in a pinch, but it isn’t ideal, and if you plan on piping regularly or even more than once a year, disposable piping bags are easily found and very cheap. Grab a few! Reusable piping bags are also available but I have found them a total pain to clean, plus if you want to make multiple kinds of icing, just having one piping bag can hobble you. But you do you!

Fit the Tip Into the Bag Properly

This part was always so pesky for me! Snip too much off and the tip falls out. Snip not enough and it doesn’t go through. What do you do? Here is something: You can always use a sharp paring knife and trim the corner of the piping bag around the tip rather than guesstimating the size. Your life will be so much easier!

Fill the Bag in a Quart Container

Whatever you’re putting into a piping bag is probably messy. That’s why you need a bag to shape it. It also means that you can end up with icing all over every surface as you try to fill the bag from the bowl you have. There’s an easier way! The way is to use an upright quart container, put the tip of the bag in the bottom, and open the filling end of the piping bag around the container. Then you can leave it upright as you scoop wahtever you need to scoop into it. Isn’t that better?

Use a Bench Scraper to Push the Filling Towards the Tip

Now you have the filling in the bag, but it is probably not exactly flush with the tip. It needs to be in order fo you to pipe anything, right? Not a problem. If you have a dough scraper or bench scraper, use it to push the filling in the bag towards the tip, and then twist the remaining back end of the bag together to make a neat package.

When You’re Piping, Only Squeeze with One Hand

This might also be something you know, but it turns out I did not! The whole time I had piped anything I was squeezing with two hands. Turns out that totally does not help. Ideally, you use your non-dominant hand down toward the tip as a guide, and the one further up the bag to squeeze. This means you’ll have roughly even pressure, and you can avoid that thing you can get in a piping bag where it looks like a toothpaste tube crumpled in the middle.

If You’re Using More Than One Tip, Use a Coupler

If you try to change between tips and you have the tip directly in your piping bag, it means dumping all the contents of the bag into another bag, which is a pain, and also messy. A coupler is a piece of plastic that fits inside the pastry bag, where the tip would be, but it attaches to tips. It’s great if you want to use the same substance in the bag for multiple applications, like frosting a cake. See? You don’t have to be afraid of piping. Piping is your friend! Or at least, not your enemy.

Oh how I love me some buttercream piping tips. I have all kinds…and honestly I have some that I don’t even really know how to use. Yes, I know, that’s probably crazy. Even though I have a bunch, I generally use the same piping tips over and over again. I thought I’d put together a post that lists all my favorite buttercream piping tips and how to use them.

Many of these piping tips can be used multiple ways. I’ll show how to pipe with each one and some examples of cakes I’ve used them on.

Don’t forget to check out the video close to the end of this post to see how to pipe with these tips.

This post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a referral commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase using these links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

These links also use cookies, which tracks and allows me to get credit for the referral. You can see my policies linked in the website footer.

2D & 1M TIPS:

Affiliate Link: 2D Tip

Affiliate Link: 1M Tip

These tips are very similar to each other and they’re great for making rosettes. Of course you can make rosettes a couple different ways. Make sure to check out the video in this post, but if you want to learn my favorite tip for piping rosettes, you’ll want to check out my post: Better Buttercream Rosettes.

Here are a couple things you can do with these tips:

These are also wonderful to use for easy rosette floral wreath cakes like the one below:

They’re also my favorite tips to use on cupcakes and they’re great as large shell borders.

(Lemon Sour Cream Cupcakes)

8B & 6B TIPS:

Affiliate Link: 8B Tip

Affiliate Link: 6B Tip

I use these tips for cupcakes and to pipe dollops along the tops of my cakes. I also like to use them for borders around the bottom of cakes.

These are also great for wreath cakes and unicorn cakes, to top cakes and also as large borders.

(Manicorn Cake)

(Oreo Insanity Cake)

4B & 32 TIPS:

Affiliate Link: 4B Tip

Affiliate Link: 32 Tip

These star tips are a bit smaller than the previous ones, but they’re also great for borders and to top cakes. They’re also great for filling in floral wreath cakes.

Here are some ideas for cupcakes:

(Easy Cupcake Decorating)

103 & 104 PETAL TIPS:

Affiliate Link: 103 Tip

Affiliate Link: 104 Tip

There are a bunch of different sized petal tips, but these two sizes are my favorites. They make excellent medium sized blossoms and roses.

21 STAR TIP:

Affiliate Link: 21 Tip

There are different sizes of star tips, but this is the one I use most often. It’s a smaller size and perfect for all sorts of things.

I use this one a ton…Here are some examples:

(Easy Patriotic Star Cake)

(Giant Peppermint Candy Cake)

352 & 67 LEAF TIPS:

Affiliate Link: 352 Tip

Affiliate Link: 67 Tip

These are great all around leaf tips. The 352 tip is more of a standard leaf.

And the 67 can make a more ruffled cake.

These tips are great for floral cakes, but they’re also great for filling in spaces.

(Cake Pop Christmas Tree)

233 GRASS TIP:

Affiliate Link: 233 Tip

Ok, obviously the grass tip is great for grass, but it’s also great for making fur.

Here are some examples:

(Loaded Easter Blondies)

(Easy Teddy Bear Christmas Cake)

4 & 5 ROUND TIPS:

Affiliate Link: 4 Tip

Affiliate Link: 5 Tip

These are your work horses. The sky is really the limit for these. I love them for filling in spaces on floral cakes…they’re great for piping berries to fill in those spaces. They’re also great for making centers for flowers, writing words and really any other piping you can think of.

Here are some examples:

(Easy Piped Spring Cake)

(Floral Initial Cake)

And here’s the video to see how everything is piped!

Okay, now that you’ve got a ton of ideas…start that piping!

Trained pastry chefs are taught elaborate techniques for fashioning pastry bags out of folded paper. I admire that, but I also have things to do and places to go. So when I need to do a little piping, say of jam into a doughnut, I go the pre-fab route. The basic components, tips and couplers, can be had at many specialty shops. As for the bags, not being a decorating professional, I vastly prefer the cheapie pre-made plastic versions over the real fabric bags. You can also use Ziploc bags if you want, though I’ll warn you now that those things tend to pop open at inopportune moments.

Experienced pastry people out there will probably say the process of putting together a pastry bag is obvious. That may be true, but obviousness didn’t prevent me from spending a bewildering hour fiddling with the pieces the first time I tried it. So for those who might be a little intimidated, I offer this short tutorial. Start with a tip of your choice, here a monster #230 for filling doughnuts, plus a two-part coupler and a bag.

Hey wait! That bag doesn’t have a hole in it! See what I mean? The process isn’t intuitive at all! You have to snip the end off with scissors. How much depends on the size of the coupler. You may need to experiment a little, but the idea is you want a snug fit for the coupler. Trim off about three quarters of an inch:

Then insert the coupler into the bag and push it toward the hole you made. You don’t want it to protrude out of the hole, since the idea is to pinch the bag between the base and the collar. Push it in tightly. Ideally, you’ll stretch the plastic a bit so it’s tight over the coupler’s threads.

Once the base is in place, put the tip on…

…then the collar, and just screw it down.

You’re done! Wasn’t that obvious? No, in fact it really wasn’t.

pdebarros/iStock/GettyImages

Pastry bags are a neat and easy way to frost desserts. Many recipes and baking tutorials call for a device called a coupler inside the pastry bag. It lets you switch the tips attached to the bag without having to emptying its contents first. If you have only one pastry tip and no coupler, improvise using the tools you have.

Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media

Drop a piping tip into the pastry bag and push it down as far it can go. Draw a small horizontal line on the outside of the pastry bag just above the opening of the piping tip inside the bag.

Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media

Remove the piping tip from the bag. Using scissors, trim off the tip of the pastry bag along the line you marked.

Push the piping tip down into the bag so that the opening of the tip protrudes through the hole in the bag.

Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media

Fold the top of the bag over to create a cuff. Slide your hand up under the cuff and hold the bag loosely in your hand.

Kate Van Vleck/Demand Media

Fill the pastry bag halfway with the frosting, then unfold the cuff. Pinch the bag closed just above the frosting, and twist it shut to secure the closure.

Gently work the icing down until it comes through the opening of the piping tip, and frost your desserts to your heart’s content.

I’ve been baking cupcakes (compulsively, some might say) for a long time and, over the years, I’ve often been asked to show friends ‘how to do icing like that!’ So here’s the answer… use a piping bag.
I use a piping bag to ice my cupcakes nine tenths of the time. Why? Because it’s quick and easy, and it’s a sure way to make your cupcakes look extra stylish and impressive. It takes a bit of practice to get used to the technique but trust me, it’s really simple and once you’ve mastered it your icing adventure can begin.

What you need:
– Some cupcakes, obviously. (For my easy-peasy cupcake recipe, check out the Science Behind Cupcakes)
– Some buttercream icing. I mix 4 cups of icing sugar with 125g butter and half a cup of milk. Add some colouring if you like.
– A piping bag
– Piping bag nozzles (this handy nozzle set includes a piping bag and seven nozzles)
– Kitchen scissors

The technique:
1. Every new piping bag needs to be cut so that the nozzle fits cosily into the bottom of it. Choose the nozzle you want to use and carefully estimate how much you need to cut off from the bottom of the bag so that it will fit tightly inside with just the end of the nozzle poking out. Snip off a little at a time – there’s no going back if you cut off too much so I suggest you take this bit very slowly. If you have a nozzle set, all nozzles will have the same diameter base so will fit into your cut piping bag.
2. Now that your nozzle tip is poking out the bottom of your piping bag, you can start to fill the bag with icing. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to pack the icing into the base of the bag and, if you roll the top of the bag back on itself, you will find this whole process a lot easier and less messy.
3. Get a feel for the bag, working the icing down to the bottom of it and giving it a little squeeze until you see the icing coming out through the nozzle.
4. And now for the fun part, get your naked cupcake ready. Starting from the outside and working anti-clockwise, squeeze your icing gently out of the nozzle. Work slowly. Once you’ve got to the middle of your cupcake, stop squeezing, dip the nozzle into the icing gently and lift off. Voilà.
5. Decorate with your choice of sprinkles and chocolate balls. You can also change colours. If you don’t have more than one bag, you will need to clean out your used piping bag thoroughly before using your next colour.
Experiment with the different nozzles for different effects (the round tip will give you soft, ‘cloudy’ edges, the star tip will give you swirls with defined ridges).

Top tips:
1. Don’t cut off too much from your piping bag.
2. Fold the top of the bag over on itself when spooning in the icing.
3. Practice, practice, practice.
And there you go, the piping bag world is now your oyster.