Wednesday 5 December 2012

Royal icing ~ a Beginners Guide Pt 3

"I'm no good a piping" ~ a beginners mantra

When new students start my Piping class inevitably one of the first things they say to me is " I hate piping " or " I can't pipe " or " My hand shakes when I pipe" and I in return say "It takes time, patience and practice".

I find if you only try to do some piping at the time of finishing a cake, your skill level probably won't be want you expect it to be. Even when you don't have a cake that you want to do piping on you should practice a little.

When starting anything with royal icing make sure you have everything you need around you, you know what royal icing is like, you stop for a few minutes and it's starts to dry.............

We're going to use a shell tube, now this is either #42, 43, or 44, but you could also pipe shells with plain tubes #1, 1.5, 2, 3 and bigger.

So when I start what do I have around me, I have:

a selection of tubes
Royal icing
piping bags (greaseproof paper or disposable)
liquid colours
palette knife
and most importantly a clean damp cloth

 * this list is endless depending on what your doing........

                                                                                                         selection of tools

Where to start, well lets start with your piping bag. As I'm very old, I mean old school I use greaseproof paper to make my bags. A word on bags you don't need a large bag to pipe round a cake, when a large bag is used you'll be inclined to fill it to the top, it's not necessary, a medium bag will do and only fill your bag to about half way.

Make your bag and cut about 1cm from the bottom and insert your tube, paddle your icing with your palette knife backwards and forwards to eradicate any air bubbles and then fill your bag.  Seal the bag and now your ready.....................

                                                                                          cut 1cm at the bottom of piping bag

insert tube

paddle the icing backwards and forwards to remove air bubbles

close bag by folding over corners on either side

fold over the top twice to seal in icing

I have a mantra that I give my students when they start piping, squeeze, stop , pull away and it's sometimes really funny in class when I hear the students mumbling under their breath, squeeze, stop, pull away, squeeze, stop pull away. I always suggest to everyone, practice on a board covered with sugarpaste/fondant as this gets you comfortable piping on the medium. 

the bottom line is what shell should look like, squeeze to the size  shell you want, stop squeezing, and then pull away

this is what usually happens, this happens when you lift the tube as you pull away, keep you tube straight as you pull away

Remember, practice.................

You can embellish your shells in a variety of ways, over pipe, add small sugar flowers, in fact   you can embellish your shells  anyway you like.


Other styles that you can pipe using a shell tube. Barrels, fleur-de-lys, chevrons and rope.

piped rope

To pipe ropes and barrels it's a matter of wrist action. The twisting action is achieved by just turning the wrist, not the hand. So for the rope it is just continually turning from the wrist.


To pipe barrels again it's the turning of the wrist but varying the size piped.


Chevrons are achieved by holding your tube at a slight angle and pipe a shell and then moving the tube down slightly and pipe the next shell at the opposite angle. continue until you achieve a chevron appearance.


To pipe a fleur-de-lys you pipe the centre shell first and pipe a shell at an angle either side.
I think that's enough to getting on with and alot to be practicing to do.

I found that it's wasn't so easy to take photos and pipe at the same time, so next time I'm going to get somebody else to take the pictures while I pipe and to be honest I'm not the best when it comes to doing things like taking photos anyway. 

I hope you have found this even a little bit helpful without me actually being there and saying, squeeze, stop, pull away!

Quick tip
Before I go a quick tip. I always make up lots of bags and have them ready, but how to store them without  getting them creased or slightly damaged. I store mine in an old Pringle tube. I store my small and medium bags and un-made larger bags and they're always ready and to hand.

I decorated my Pringle tube because everyone thought there was Pringles in the tube, not likely!!!

Next time I'll be showing you Brush Embroidery..............

Marcia xxx

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