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We've already described the different types of decorating tips available, the various designs you can create, and explained how to fill your piping bag, but what if you want to draw thin patterns or write a special message on your cake? This page looks at how to pipe fine lines, giving helpful hints and tips to aid the process.
It's important to note that you should be using a fine round or writing tip specially designed for creating fine lines. Tip number 1 is perfect for the job, or alternatively you could purchase a writing tip set.
Pipe with a smaller piping bag than usual – and don't fill it more than two thirds! It helps if the bag is made of paper as this aids the control of the icing flow and can be easier to grip.
For intricate iced designs or writing, it's best to paddle the icing with a spatula first to rid your icing of any air bubbles that could disrupt your piped line. But what is paddling? Paddling is an alternative to stirring – instead of stirring your icing, you simply mix out the bubbles with a paddling motion.
Always pipe with two hands – if you fail to do so, it'll be much harder to control your piping. Hold the bag with one hand (also using that same hand to squeeze) and use your other hand to keep the bag stable, consequently preventing a shaky squeezing hand.
It's best to practise piping for a little while before you begin piping the design onto your cake. It's essential that you can reach a consistent squeezing pressure as this results in a line of constant thickness. Practising with a practise board may be beneficiary as they often come with sheets of fine lines and letters as templates!
To achieve a perfectly straight line whilst piping, gradually lift the bag higher and towards you as you squeeze, then gradually lower the bag down as you reach the end of your line, thus allowing the line to drop down naturally straight. Keeping your tip very close to the icing as you pipe gives the line more room to be wobbly as it'll pick up any slight shake your hand may make.
Consider your font when lettering. For example, don't start out with very intricate, swirly letters – begin with something simple and straight, then allow yourself to progress to something more challenging. Have a little look at different fonts online rather than free-handing, it'll help you to practise different styles!
It's important to plan out your piping visually – the worst thing you can do is begin piping and run out of room! Consider the size of your font or design, as well as the spacing between the letters and where you'll place each word. When lettering especially, it's preferable if the words to sit straight – it could help to use some sort of ruler or guide to ensure this.
Use a cake turntable if you want to pipe fine lines onto the side of your cake – this means that you won't have or stop and start or move into awkward positions, allowing more control and straighter lines.
Finally, if you do happen to make a mistake, it's not the end of the world. To fix it, simply dampen a brush slightly and gently wipe away or flatten where you've made an error. You can then continue to pipe over the top – no-one will ever know!
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