How-to Decorate Cakes Like a Pro

Decorate cakes like a pro with decorating tips and pastry or resealable plastic bags. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and insert a decorating tip. Reinforce the seal between the bag and tip with tape or use a plastic coupler. The coupler lets you easily change decorating tips. For very simple decorations, you can just snip the corner off of a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. To fill a pastry or resealable plastic bag with frosting, insert a decorating tip if desired and place bag in a measuring cup. Roll down top edge to make a cuff. Smooth filling down toward tip to remove air bubbles, which will cause breaks in the design when piping. Twist top of bag shut.

Shell Border Use a star tip and hold the bag at a 45° angle. Squeeze bag and slightly lift tip as frosting builds and fans. Relax pressure as you lower tip to make the tail. Stop pressure completely and pull tip away. Work from left to right, resting the head of one shell on the tail of the previous shell.

Writing, Printing, VinesUse a small round tip and hold the bag at a 45° angle. Touch the surface lightly with the tip and squeeze frosting out evenly as you go. Release pressure and touch the cake surface to stop each line, letter or vine.

Leaves Use the leaf tip and hold the bag at a 45° angle. Touch the surface lightly with the tip and holding tip in place, squeeze bag to let frosting fan out to create wide base of leaf. Relax and stop pressure as you pull tip away from leaf and draw it up to a point.

Drop Flowers or Stars Use a flower or star tip and hold the bag at a 90° angle. Position tip just above the surface, and holding tip in place, squeeze bag as flower or star is formed. Stop pressure and pull tip up. Increase or decrease pressure to slightly change the size.

Basket Weave Pattern With serrated side of a basket weave tip facing up, pipe a vertical line of frosting. Squeeze out a short horizontal bar over the top of the vertical line. Add additional bars, each about tip width apart, to cover line. Make another vertical line of frosting to the right of first one, a tip width apart, overlapping ends of horizontal bars. Repeat the procedure of covering lines with bars by gently tucking tip under the line first to create a basket weave effect.