Decorating with Piped Frosting

Decorating with Piped Frosting

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Decorating with Piped Frosting

This recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.

Pastry tips, or tubes, used with pastry bags (also known as piping or icing bags) come in a wealth of shapes and sizes, as do the bags. Many tips are for piping specific decorations, such as rose petals or ruffles. But just a handful of plain and star tips provides a wide variety of decorating possibilities. You can decorate a wide range of cakes with only five tips: 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch and 3/4-inch star, plus 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch plain. Look for pastry tips in cookware and baking-supply stores or through mail-order sources.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cake, by Fran Gage (Simon & Schuster, 2003).


  • 1 frosted cake
  • Buttercream, whipped cream or other frosting for decorating


  • 1 Set aside about 1 cup of the frosting before frosting the entire cake.
  • 2 To fill a pastry bag, fit a tip into the bottom of the bag. Twist the bag just above the tip and push the bag into the tip to prevent the frosting from dripping out. Hold the bag in one hand and fold down the top third of the bag over your curved fingers, making a cuff. Using a large rubber spatula, carefully put the frosting into the bag without getting any on the outside of the bag. Unfold the cuff and pleat the top closed to meet the frosting. Pull the tip to free the twisted bag and, while holding the pleated top, use a twisting motion to push the frosting into the tip of the bag. Squeeze the top of the bag with one hand and guide the tip with the other hand.
  • 3 To make rosettes, spirals and shells, use a star tip of any size. For rosettes, hold the pastry bag perpendicular to and about 1 inch from the cake. Squeeze a small amount of frosting onto the cake to the desired size, then stop pressing and pull the bag up to make a point. For spirals, hold the pastry bag at a 45-degree angle and about 1 inch from the cake. Squeeze frosting onto the cake, moving the bag in a spiral. For shells, hold the pastry bag perpendicular to the top edge of the cake and with the tip just touching the cake. As you squeeze the bag, lift the tip and then return it alongside the starting point to form a loop of frosting. Make connecting loops around the cake.
  • 4 To make a plain beaded border on a cake, use a plain tip of any size. Hold the pastry bag about 1 inch from the cake and perpendicular to the top edge. Squeeze a bead, then stop. Squeeze another bead next to the previous one. Continue until the top edge is ringed with beads. Makes 1 decorated cake.


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