“Piping” and I don’t walk on the same side of the street. If you’re talking about Scottish men in skirts huffing and puffing on a long stick connected to a bag of air, then, yes, I’ll stroll with them. But a plastic, v-shaped bag tipped with a nozzle and filled with icing? My limited artistic talents don’t go there.
BUT – occasionally, very occasionally, a dish I’m making calls for that extra added touch that a piping bag brings to the presentation, and I’ll relent. Practice makes perfect… “they” (whoever “they” are) say. So I practice.
Loads of online videos show deft hands whipping the piping bag and nozzle across cakes, and cookies, or skillfully pushing out éclairs and ladyfingers. Piping also comes in handy with potatoes and purees. You eat with your eyes, and a decorative presentation certainly makes the dish even more appealing.
There are understood basics to piping, and I’ll go over a few of them here:
1. Plan your design ahead of putting nozzle to bag.
2. Get the consistency of your filling right. Thick, no air bubbles, but fluid. A good test is to squeeze a thin string of filling out of the bag and hold it. If it breaks, it’s too wet. Add some powdered sugar to the mix to thicken it. It’s too dry if you have to squeeze extra hard before anything comes out of the nozzle.
3. To fill the bag, put it into a tall glass, pitcher or any holder that lets it stand. Fold down the top of the bag to form a cuff. Place the nozzle inside the bag before filling it!
4. Fill the bag, un-cuff it, and twist the top closed.
5. Hold the bag with one hand and direct the nozzle with the other, keeping your “direction” hand toward the top of the bag and squeezing with it.
Sounds easy, eh? Well, it’s not! But the results sure are impressive! So get your pastry chef game on, and take a stab at piping. It doesn’t beat men in skirts, but gazing lovingly at your artistic masterpiece sure is rewarding!