Now I realise that too many people out there what I’m about to write seems pretty obvious-but hey it wasn’t obvious to me! My first tip- filing the piping bag with icing. It’s really important to not fill the bag up to much as this can cause a lot of strain on your hand. Half way is normally fine. Make sure that once you fill your bag with icing that you massage it. This prevents any air pockets in the icing and will help the icing to come out smoothly.
Second tip- get to know your icing tips. There are many different icing tips and they all do different jobs. Play around with them, go on the internet and work out what they do. The main tips that I would recommended someone having are: star tips (Wilton tip 18, 21 and 1M), a round tip for letters or dots (Witlon tip 3 and 12) and a Wilton cake icer tip. This tip makes icing cake so quick and easy.
My last tip is use the right icing. One of the best things I learnt was this recipe to buttercream icing. This icing is so great. It’s fairly easy to use, does not requiring refrigerating (if you use water instead of milk) and holds its shape really well. I think learning this recipe was half the battle for me. When you have the right icing recipe it makes everything so easy.
Buttercream Icing (stiff consistency)
Makes: 500g (or 2 ½ cups)
Ingredients:190g of solid white vegetable shortening (can be bought from good cake specialty stores)
1 tsp of flavouring (optional)
7-8 tsp of water (or milk)-This will vary bases of the icing consistency you require450g of pure icing sugar (sifted 2-3 times)
1 tb of meringue powder (can be bought from good cake specialty stores)
Cream shortening, flavouring and water. Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until creamy.
For medium consistency add 1 tsp for each cup of stiff consistency icing. For thin consistency icing ass 2 tsp of water for each cup of stiff consistency icing.
Stiff-use for flowers
Medium-use to create flowers and dimensional decorating
Thin-use for writing and icing a cake.
Source: Wilton Decorating Basics book