Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Experiment 3, Part 1 - a test run

Enough of the humiliating stories of last night, let's get back to the baking!

In preparation for my cake decorating mission, I purchased this:

A rather expensive cake decorating set with two piping bags and numerous piping tubes. Before letting it loose on cakes, I decided a test run was in order. Having consulted my trusty Women's Weekly cookbooks, I decided that rather than actually making icing and wasting the entire batch on piping practice, I'd follow their recommendation and use instant mashed potato - who would have guessed there was a use for it??!!

So, I made up the instant mashed potato according to the directions on the packet (aka add some water and stir it...). Looks delicious, huh? :S

Then I put together the piping bag, starting with the basic tip that's used for writing.

I dumped some mashed potato into the piping bag, then followed the instructions to twist the bag around and fold it over to get suitable pressure on the bag.

Then it was onto the piping practice! I started with capital letters. Not my best work, obviously, but not bad considering the last time I did anything with a piping bag, I was 14... So not too bad for a first attempt!

Then I tried cursive. I actually found that easier than the capitals. Although that could have just been because I was getting the hang of how much pressure to use. Sorry about some of the photos - if I'd been thinking, I would have added some food colouring to the mash so that it showed up better against the baking paper!

Then it was onto the more exciting tips. I tried a few techniques with each of them. The middle one worked best with this one, I think...

This was one of the star tubes. Not exactly ideal for a ripple technique, is it?

This was a slightly smaller star tube. It took me a while to get the hang of it, as you can see...

I couldn't really work out the point of this tip. Unless you want your icing to look like worms, that is...

This one was kind of interesting. Although it clearly got clogged half way through that last attempt, hence the giant blob...

This one is intended for making flowers. You're meant to use it in association with the scary pin looking thing in the first photo, and then transfer the flower to whatever you're decorating. But I just made something almost resembling a rose on the baking paper, because there was clearly no way in hell mashed potato was going to stand up to being transferred off the flower pin!

From memory, this one is meant to be used to make leaves. I'm buggered if I can work out from the instructions how to make it actually look like a leaf...........

Another star tip. I was getting the hang of stars pretty well by this point, I think...

This one is meant to make shells. I followed the instructions for the middle one, but if it looks like a shell, I look like a supermodel... Personally, I think they look like something Bear Grylls would eat in the outback *shudder*

More stars, slightly bigger this time. Definitely mastered this one!

And that was the end of the practice run - considering it was my first time using a piping bag in 13 years, I don't think I did too badly. Although by the time the potato got cold, it was starting to get quite lumpy, which didn't help things!

Next up was actually applying the new-found piping skills to icing cakes! But that's a story for another post...
K xx :)


  1. That looks like fun! Though I'm fairly sure your shells are really witchetty grubs.

    Decorating is definitely a no-go area for me. I'm crap! I'll just admire yours instead :-)

  2. Guilty secret: I quite like eating instant mashed potato.

    If you want your flowers to stand up to being transferred, "glue" a small square of baking paper to the flower nail with some icing, pipe the flower, then pull the baking paper off the flower nail and pop it in the freezer for a while.

    My writing sucks. I always break the icing, which I know means that it's too hard, but if I make it softer then it kinda goes places that it's not supposed to! I'm not bad with a star tip but haven't tried ropes, leaves etc yet... I'm still building up the courage!

    ~* Ness (at work, can't log into Google account)


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