Have you ever gawked at a well decorated cake or cookie in awe or envy? You wish you could create such masterpiece but feel quite inadequate. Don’t fret because with some cake piping bags and nozzles, you too can create beauty with icing sugar.
Cake piping bags are usually accompanied by couplers and nozzles or tips. However we would first of all help you understand the different types of cake piping bags. Then we’ll move on to the important factors to look out for before making a purchase.
Understanding the Different Types of Cake Piping Bags
Cake piping bags also referred to as pastry bag are circular shaped with pointed ends. The pointed end is where you cut the bag to fit in a piping tip, while the wider opening is for putting the icing in the bag. The piping bag holds the frosting for decoration.
One of the reasons why it is also called a pastry bag is because it can be used for other baked goods. You can use it to pipe out chocolates, butter icing, royal icing and some other soft pastry recipes.
Piping bags are also made with various materials and listed below are the different types of piping bags, their advantages and disadvantages.
As we said earlier, there different types of cake piping bags ; let’s look at them one after the other:-
Disposable Piping Bags
Disposable piping bags are the most commonly used type of piping bags. They are made of clear food grade plastic. Some of the advantages of disposable piping bags include the following:-
(i) Ease of cleaning – It’s quite easy to clean; well you don’t clean them, you just trash after use.
(ii) Sanitary – They are the most sanitary because you don’t reuse so there’s no risk of contamination.
(iii) Ease of use – Since these disposable bags are made of clear plastics, you can easily see the color of icing you are working with. Furthermore, you can cut them to fit piping nozzles/tips of any size.
(iv) Saves Time – It saves time because you can fill different bags with different colors to work with at once. Once that’s done, you just pick up required color without having to look into the bag. You can also store your icing in the bag before cutting the tip.
(v) Portable – They are said to be portable because you can use them for projects outside your kitchen or cake shop. No need to carry around a used piping bag that has to be cleaned/washed.
These disposable bags also have some disadvantages which include the following: –
(i) Expensive – Though they are cheap for the short term, they are not cost effective for the frequent user.
(ii) Not Durable – Disposable bags cannot bear up under rigorous use (they weren’t meant to though). They can also split if filled with thick consistency icing or recipe.
(iii) Gets Slippery– It gets slippery after a while because it’s made of plastic; this might make piping difficult for a beginner.
Canvas Piping Bags
Canvas piping bags are made of canvas (obviously). They can be considered professional grade piping bags; they have some advantages and disadvantages.
(i) Heavy Duty – They are strong and very ideal for working with recipes of thick consistency.
(ii) Durable – Due to the material it is made of, canvas piping bags can last for a long time.
(iii) Heat Resistant – It can withstand heat which makes it capable of handling hot recipes.
(iv) Biodegradable – This makes it an environmentally friendly product unlike plastic that’s not.
(i) Porous – This is also due to the nature of the material used. The fats and oil in the recipe leaks through the bag making it messier to use.
(ii) Slippery to Hold – When the contents of the bag seep to the outside, it makes the piping bag slippery to hold. This can also make working with it difficult for a beginner.
(iii) Difficult to clean – The cloth-like nature of the piping bag makes it difficult to clean.
(iv) Difficult to use for different colors at once – These kind of bags may slow down your work if you fill different bags with different colors. This is because you have to keep looking into each bag to ascertain the color before use.
Plastic Coated Fabric Piping Bags
Plastic coated fabric piping bags are made of either print cloth or canvas with an inner lining made of plastic. They are also professional grade; ideal for use in bakeries and cake shops. They have their pros and con as stated below.
(i) Can handle heavy duty projects – They are great for working with dough and recipes of thick consistency.
(ii) Non slippery to handle – The plastic lining on the inside keeps the fats and oils from seeping outside the bag. This makes it easier to handle and gives the user a more secure hold on the bag.
(iii) Ease of cleaning – The plastic lining also makes it easier to wash off after use.
(iv) Eco-friendly – It is made with biodegradable material which makes it environmentally safe
(v) Durable – The material used to make it helps it to last for a long time.
(i) Not Heat Resistant – The plastic lining cannot handle hot recipes. It might begin to leak if exposed to hot items.
(ii)Not flexible – It can get stiff and this makes it more difficult to use.
Polyurethane or Nylon Piping Bags
Polyurethane or nylon piping bags are made of polyester sheeting and different models come with different coatings of polyurethane. The advantages and disadvantages of this material include the following:
(i) Long Lasting – Piping bags made of this material lasts for a long time.
(ii) Handles Heavy Duty Tasks – They withstand long and rigorous use and are ideal for heavy duty jobs.
(iii) Dishwasher Safe – They are dishwasher safe which makes them easy to wash.
(iv) Flexible – The flexibility makes it easy and convenient to use.
(v) Environmentally Safe – The biodegradable nature of the material makes it an eco-friendly product
(i) Expensive – The cost of initial purchase is high which makes it expensive in the short term.
(ii) Can Get Slippery – This can present a level of inconvenience to the user.
(iii) Difficult to Use for Several Colors at Once – Due to the fact that it isn’t transparent, you have to check to ascertain the color inside always before use. This can slow user down and make the work tedious.
Silicone Cake Piping Bags
Silicone Cake Piping Bags are the most recent of all the piping bags, they are professional grade bags. They come recommended by a number of top chefs and they have the following advantages and disadvantages.
(i) Durability – These cake piping bags lasts for like forever! It is elastic and smooth which allows you to fold and twist it better than other cake piping bags. The material keeps it from tearing or splitting.
(ii) Heat Resistant – They can hold recipes with high temperature and this makes them ideal for working with cooked sugar and chocolate. It can also be reheated in the microwave.
(iii) Non –slip Grip – The inner lining is smooth, allowing icing to flow nicely while outside is textured to give user a firm grip.
(iv) Doesn’t Stain easily and Doesn’t Retain Flavors – These bags are not easily stained nor do they retain flavors. This makes them versatile and allows you to use them for different purposes other than cake decoration.
(v) Dishwasher Safe – This makes them easy to wash and maintain.
(i) Retains Air Pockets – The balloon like nature makes it have air pockets from time to time. This can slow down your piping speed.
(ii) Not Good For Recipes of Thick Consistency – It stretches too much when you try to push out stiff icing. This makes it a bit difficult to use.
Tips on How to Use a Cake Piping Bag
No matter the different materials all these piping bags are made of, they are used the same way. Here we’ll give you tips on how best to use your cake piping bags.
For the bag that requires a coupler, you put the coupler into the piping bag. The part of the coupler that looks like a funnel should be facing the tip of the bag. Cut the bag to fit the coupler and then insert the desired tip and lock in with the coupler ring. If your piping bag doesn’t require a coupler, just throw in the tip and cut the bag to size.
Open the top of the bag over your hand and fill the bag halfway. Note that filling the bag too much would make it harder to handle.
Twist the bag to close it and ensure that all air bubble is out of the bag. Push out a little icing to a plate to ensure that there are no air bubbles.
Position your hand to pipe by holding the piping bag with one hand and using the other to guide the tip. Ensure that you keep twisting the bag at the top to keep it closed.
This is just a brief summary; there are numerous videos on YouTube that would help you master the use of a cake piping bag.
Further Hacks and Tips for Using Cake Piping Bags
What to do when you have to use many colors to decorate but have limited piping bags
In this situation, use an icing plug.Here’s how; get a sheet of cellophane and spread it out on your countertop. Put the quantity of icing you want and then wrap the cellophane until it looks like a sausage.
Put your coupler into the piping bag and then put the sausage-like wrapped icing into the bag. Ensure that the tip of this your icing “sausage” passes through the coupler then cut off the tip. Attach your piping nozzle/tip and lock in with the coupler ring.
Prepare all the colors in different sausage-like wraps and all you have to do is keep changing the icing and tip. No mess to your cake piping bag, easier clean up and no need to buy multiple cake piping bags.
Here’s what to do when you have difficulty filling your pastry bag
Place the prepared bag into a tall glass or mug and fold the extra around the edges of the glass. This would help you get your icing into the bag without much hassle and mess.
How to Wash Your Cake Piping Bag
Ensure that you wash piping bags that are not dishwasher safe with warm soapy water immediately after use. Hang your piping bag to dry if it has a loop; if not, find something to hold it up (tip-side) to dry.
Ensure that the bag is fully dry before putting it away or else it might become moldy.
For cake piping bags that are dishwasher safe, also wash immediately after use following instruction on product.
What To Look Out For When Shopping For Cake Piping Bags
Cake Piping Bags may appear to be basic but if you don’t know what to look out for, you might make a wrong purchase. You may be able to use whatever you bought but it might not be the best cake piping bag for you.
Here are some things you should consider before making a choice:
This we have discussed extensively and from our discussion, you can deduce which one would work best for you.
Disposable cake piping bags are best for a beginner. However as your skills grow and the frequency of use increases, consider the reusable ones.
Also in checking out the material, ensure that whatever product you choose is made with food grade material.
It is ideal for you to have more than two piping bags but if you can’t or don’t want to then look for a generic size.A reusable bag between 14 and 16 inches would do just fine.
If you have a larger size it would be more difficult to handle. A smaller size would require that you refill it quite often in the course of decorating.
Ease of use and cleaning
Some piping bags are more flexible than others, some have better grip while others are slippery.
Check out the features and find out how easy it would be to use and clean. Read a lot of buyer reviews for the product you are thinking of buying.
One other factor to consider if you have already decided not to buy disposable piping bags is durability.
Canvas bags would last a long time but they have a few disadvantages. Nylon bags also last for long likewise silicone bags.
Each of these materials has its own pros and cons; check out what works for you and what your own deal breakers are.
We sincerely hope we have been able to furnish you with all you need to know about cake piping bags. You can also click here to read our article on cake piping bags and tips for more information.
We also recommend the following articles for more information on cake decoration, equipment and tools:-
- Cake Piping Kits – A Newbie’s Guide
- Fondant Decorating Tools-Next Level!
- Cake Boards – Covering the Bases
- Best Food Processor For Dough
- How To Use A Bundt Pan
- Best Toaster Oven For Baking
Cake Piping Bags – FAQs
How Do You Make A Piping Bag For A Cake With Plastic Bag?
Making a piping bag for a cake with plastic bag is easy; just follow these simple steps:-
(i) Get a plastic bag of any size and fill halfway with icing
(ii) Cut off a tiny bit of the tip of the plastic bag and voila! You have a piping bag.
(iii) If you want to use a piping tip with the bag, then your first step would be to throw in the piping tip into the plastic bag. Push it to the end of one corner of the plastic bag. Mark where the opening of the piping tip is.
(iv) Remove the piping tip and cut the plastic bag where you marked it.
(v) Put back the piping tip and fill the plastic bag halfway with icing and its ready to use.
How Do You Make A Piping Bag With Parchment Paper?
Follow these simple steps to make piping bag with parchment paper:-
(i) Get a large parchment paper and cut out a large triangle from it
(ii) Hold on to one corner of the paper and fold the other corner up and around the top of the triangle.
(iii) Fold the two ends over at the top of the cone and pin with a stapler
(iv) Put your icing in the bag and then fold the top of the bag and you’re good to go!
Are Reusable Piping Bags Good?
Reusable piping bags are good for people to decorate cakes frequently and in large quantities. There are different types of reusable piping bags and we have discussed them in the main article above so refer to it.
Reusable piping bags have various advantages and these advantages include the following:-
(i) Cost Effectiveness– Reusable piping bags are cheaper in the long run because you get to use them over and over again.
(ii) Ease of Storage of Leftover Frosting/icing – With reusable piping bags, you can easily store your leftover frosting whether in the fridge or in a container.
(iii) Extra Strength and Durability – Reusable piping bags are stronger than disposable bags and this makes them ideal for frostings of thicker consistency. When you use reusable piping bags for thick frostings, you can rest assured that they wouldn’t burst with the pressure of pushing out the frosting.
Which Piping Bags Are Best?
The best piping bags are those that allow you to decorate your cakes and baked goods with ease. Some examples of the best piping bags include the following:-
- Reusable Silicone Piping Bags – Weetiee 3 Sizes Reusable Icing Piping Bags
- Disposable Piping Bags – Kootek 100-Piece 16 Inch Extra Thick Large Disposable Piping Bags
- Value Pack Disposable Piping Bags – LoveBB 400 Pcs 12 inch Disposable Piping Bags
- Plastic Coated Piping Bags – Ateco Plastic Coated Decorating Bag, 18-Inch
- Reusable Fabric Piping Bags – Wilton Featherweight Decorating Piping Bag, Reusable, 30.5cm (12in)
Some of the characteristics that define these best piping bags are as follows:- (i) Ease of use (ii) Ease of cleaning (iii) Manufactured with non toxic materials (iv) Does not impart any form of taste into its contents (v) Has extra strength and durability.
How Can I Decorate A Cake Without A Piping Bag?
There are many ways of decorating a cake without a piping bag. A piping bag is basically used to pipe different designs and decoration on cakes with frosting/icing. So if you do not have a piping bag and really want to decorate a cake by piping with frosting, you can refer to the first question we answered about how to make a piping bag.
If on the other hand you want some other innovative ways of decorating a cake without piping; here are some tips:-
(i) Use sprinkles- You can coat your cake with frosting and then cover with sprinkles. This works best with buttercream.
(ii) Use fondant cutouts and decorations – There are many fondant decorations that you can use on a cake that would remove the need to use a piping bag.
(iii) Use fresh fruits – cover your cake with whatever frosting you like, drizzle some chocolate drip down the top edges and then layer variety of fresh fruits on top and around the base of the cake.
These are just a few tips to jumpstart your imagination!
How Do You Frost Cupcakes Without A Piping Bag?
Frosting cupcakes without a piping bag is actually easier than you may have imagined. All you need to do is to scoop icing over the cupcake and smooth it out with a spatula. You can use a small ice cream scoop to scoop icing over the cupcake.
After you are done smoothing out the icing, you can place any kind of edible decoration on the cupcake. These ranges from sprinkles, to candies and chocolates, to slices of or whole fresh fruits and fondant cutouts and decorations.
How Do I Choose A Piping Bag?
You choose a piping bag based on the following criteria:-
(i) Strength of the piping bag – If you want to use frosting such as whipped cream or soft consistency buttercream, a disposable piping bag would do. But in a situation where you want to use heavy consistency frosting/icing, it is best to use a reusable piping bag. We have already explained in the foregoing article the advantages of each type of piping bag as it pertains to this point. Refer to it for more clarification.
(ii) Size of the piping bag – The quantity of icing that you want to use should determine the size of piping bag that is best for you. If you would be doing a considerable amount of piping then you need a 16-inch piping bag. This would ensure that you do not have to stop often to refill your bag.
(iii) Material that the piping bag is made of – Ensure that whatever piping bag you choose to buy is made of food grade materials. Most products would state this in their product description.
Finally, check out our answer to the question of which piping bags are best for more clarification.
What Size Piping Bag Do I Need?
The size of piping bag that you need depends on two things: – (i) the type of decoration that you are making (ii) the quantity of icing that you would need.
When you are piping a decoration that requires continuous piping on a large cake, you need a large piping bag (at least a 16-inch piping bag). Some of these kinds of decoration include flowers and piping on top and bottom borders of cakes. This would ensure that you have enough icing to complete a cycle before you need to refill the bag.
But in the case of piping delicate decorations or writing on cakes, you would need to use a small piping bag (not more than a 12-inch piping bag). This would enable you to have a better grip on the piping bag so that your writing or piping would be fluid.
Do You Need A Coupler For A Piping Bag?
You may or may not need a coupler for a piping bag. One reason why you would need a coupler for a piping bag is if you want to use different piping tips with the same piping bag. If on the other hand you do not need to use more than one piping tip with a piping bag, then you can do without a coupler.
Another reason why you may not need a coupler for a piping bag is when you are using the piping bag without a piping tip. And you may decide to use a piping bag without a tip for writing on cakes or baked goods. Check out our article on how to write on cakes to find out how that works.