Filling a pastry bag
Most people wish they had three hands when it comes to filling a pastry bag! Here are some hints to make it easier.
Use An Actual Piping Bag
I thought Ziploc bags work just as well but I didn’t realize how much nicer it really is to have an actual piping bag. A Ziploc bag will do in a pinch, but it isn’t ideal, and if you plan on piping regularly disposable piping bags are easily found and very cheap.
Reusable piping bags are also available but I have found them a total pain to clean, plus if you want to make multiple kinds of icing, just having one piping bag can be tedious.
Fill the Bag in a Quart Container
A tall, narrow container with a heavy base is a great holder to steady and support the bag as you fill it. It leaves your hands are free to put frosting or batter into the bag.
Whatever you’re putting into a piping bag is probably messy. That’s why you need a bag to shape it. It also means that you can end up with icing all over every surface as you try to fill the bag from the bowl you have.
The easiest way is to use an upright quart container. Put the tip of the bag in the bottom, and open the filling end of the piping bag around the container. Then you can leave it upright as you scoop wahtever you need to scoop into it.
Another easy and faster way to fill a pastry bag when you’re using one for the first time is to use a plastic container like the kind you get from any take out restaurant. Take your pastry bag and put it in the container, and then fold it down around the outside of the container. This method helps you get the filling farther down the pastry bag without making a mess.
Fit the Tip Into the Bag Properly
If you snip too much off the plastic the tip falls out. Snip not enough and it doesn’t go through. What do you do? Here is something: You can always use a sharp paring knife and trim the corner of the piping bag around the tip rather than guesstimating the size.
If You’re Using More Than One Tip, Use a Coupler
If you try to change between tips and you have the tip directly in your piping bag there is a problem. You need to dump all the contents into another bag. Your other option is to have separate bags for each tip. This is messy.
A coupler is a piece of plastic that fits inside the pastry bag where the tip would be, but it attaches to tips. It’s great if you want to use the same substance in the bag for multiple applications, like frosting a cake.
Filling The Bag
Be sure to fill the bag no more than three quarters full. Overfilling the bag makes it hard to close and hard to control. It should fit comfortably in your hands.
Normally when you fill a pastry bag you simply hold on to the bag in the middle, fold it down to your hand, and then stuff your filling in the bag with a spatula. Things can get messy if you hold too far up the bag, or get the filling on the side of the pastry bag instead of towards the tip.
When You Are Piping Use One Hand
This might also be something you need to know.
The whole time I had piped anything I was squeezing with two hands.
Turns out that totally does not help. Ideally, you use your non dominant hand down toward the tip as a guide, and the one further up the bag to squeeze. This means you’ll have roughly even pressure, and you can avoid that thing you can get in a piping bag where it looks like a toothpaste tube crumpled in the middle.
Use a Bench Scraper to Push the Filling Towards the Tip
Now that you have the filling in the bag it is probably not exactly flush with the tip.
It needs to be in order fo you to pipe anything. If you have a dough scraper or bench scraper, use it to push the filling in the bag towards the tip, and then twist the remaining back end of the bag together to make a neat package.
A twist tie is a big help to keep the top of the bag closed, so icing doesn’t back up onto your hand when you squeeze the bag.