Kitchen Q&A: Cake Decorating Tips and Pastry Bags

I have gotten many, many questions about cake decorating. Now, you all know that I am not a pro (like Steph), but I do like to dabble in cake decorating.

In any case, I love the questions regarding which products I would recommend.

My first question to you is going to be: What will you be decorating? Cakes? Cookies? Other desserts?

Maybe you just want a few basic decorating tips to get started. Maybe you are ready to go full force and take a class, so you want to buy a deluxe set.

First think about how often you will use the decorating tips, then decide what to get.

I personally don’t get into the decorating canister sets as much (see the photo above). I have used one before–in fact using one was my first introduction to cake decorating as a kid. If that’s your thing, then by all means keep using it. I just prefer to hold a pastry bag in my hands.

Decorating tips are not expensive on their own–you can get them anywhere from less than $1 to maybe $3-4. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be used in ways you cannot even begin to imagine. Buying a full set may be overkill. However, if you feel like going that route–it can be a little less expensive (although a bigger one time expense), and most sets include all the basic tips you would need or use.
I like jumbo piping tips too.  I find that I use my jumbo round piping and star tips more often than not. They are great to pipe icing onto cakes and cupcakes and it looks really pretty to boot. And they are also good for piping choux pastry dough for eclairs or savory puffs.

Another place to start, may be buying a kit that contains a few basic tips and a few icing colors. (I also recommend that little spatula in this kit.)

{30-piece Wilton Cake and Cookie Decorating Set from Sur la Table}

As I said, you don’t need a whole set. Really, you can get by with just a few basic tips.

Click on the links below to go to the Wilton site where you can see what each tip looks like as icing is piped from it.

The tips I use the most are–
1. Round–small, medium, large (I have #3 and #12, and I’m going to get #1A)

2. Open Star–small, medium, large (I have open star #’s 14, 16, 18 and 4B)
Since I have the deluxe set and have never taken a class, you can imagine that I have no idea what to do with most of them. (Don’t worry, it’s on my list of things to do before I die.)

Depending on the effect you are going for, you probably also want to get a few different sizes of these basic tips–

1. Leaf
2. Petal
3. Closed Star

Pastry Bags:

I own one of these reusable pastry bags pictured above. I use it for bigger projects, like filling a cake, or when using choux paste. More often than not, I use a Ziploc bags.–especially when I know I’m going to be using more than one color and type of tip. It makes for really easy clean up.

And I am planning on trying out parchment triangles sometime in the near future.

Other Info:

Another good thing to do if you are a beginner, is get a book about cake decorating, or sign up for a class.

My local library has many, many books about cake decorating.

Also, you can check over at Amazon in their collection of books on cake decorating and read some of the customer reviews before deciding which book to buy.

Michaels Crafts and some of my local party stores offer classes for all stages of cake decorators. If you don’t see a flier, ask one of the clerks for more info. This would be a fun girls’ night out activity if you have some friends who are also interested.

Also, most craft stores and party stores have a great selection of cake decorating tools and accessories. I could spend hours looking at all the cool things available.

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  1. I got a large wilton cake spatula as a gift and it’s great for serving up enchiladas too. :)

    I like that little kit a lot. It’s so cute and would be good for a beginner like me.

    Linds.. thanks for posting my angel doll on DM. I didn’t know until today. That was so kind of you. My sister got married last week and R & J have been out here for a visit… life has been so nuts. Your posts over there were all amazing as usual… but thanks extra much! :)

  2. For the jumbo tips, do you use couplers with those or do you just cut a hole in the ziploc and stick the tip through? I only know how to use the parchment paper w/couplers when I pipe…but I see lots of pictures where people don’t seem to use any couplers at all.

  3. For jumbo tips, you have to buy the jumbo coupler in order to use a coupler. Or, you can just cut a bigger hole in your bag and drop it on in.

    For just getting started, I don’t think you can beat the Wilton class kits. You can start out small with Course 1, then building on it as you want to try new tips and techniques (buying course 2 & 3). The price can’t be beat when you use a craft store 40%/50% coupon!

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