All cakes are wonderful, but when piped with stars, hearts, or friendly faces, they're truly something to celebrate. Read on to learn how to use a pastry bag and pastry tips to create a unique masterpiece. It's so easy that even kids can do it!
Every icing job begins with a smooth layer of base icing.
1. Place a chilled cake on a platter or cardboard cake round, and transfer it to a rotating cake stand. Smooth on a base layer of slightly chilled buttercream with a straight icing spatula to seal the cake crumbs. Chill the cake until icing has hardened, about 15 minutes.
2. Coat the sides of the cake with 1/4 inch of buttercream. Hold the spatula parallel to the sides of the cake with the blade slightly angled towards you. Apply pressure with the spatula against the sides of the cake, and use your other hand to rotate the cake stand, smoothing the sides.
3. Spread excess icing from the sides onto the top of the cake and add more to coat. Position the spatula almost flat halfway across the top of the cake. Apply pressure as you rotate the cake stand, smoothing the top. Chill until the icing has hardened, about 15 minutes, before decorating.
"Cuff" the bag top over one hand, or place the bag, tip down, in a tall glass and fold cuff around the rim. Insert icing with a spatula using your other hand, scraping the icing against the side of the bag to release it. Do not fill the bag more than halfway. Unfold the cuff.
Gather the top edges together with one hand, and drag the thumb and index finger of your other hand downward to let out air, forcing icing into bag and decorating tip. Twist the top of the bag to close and to maintain pressure.
Hold the top of the bag in your right hand -- that's your squeezing hand. Your left hand steers the bag. (Lefties hold the bag with their left hand and steer with their right.) In general, for lines and writing, the bag is held straight up and down; for most designs and trim, the bag is slanted.