How Should You Hold A Decorating Bag?

Decorating By AuntEm Updated 30 Mar 2009 , 6:02pm by SeriousCakes

AuntEm Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 3:25am
post #1 of 22

Hi
This maybe a kind of dumb question icon_redface.gif Do you use one hand or two? I use one hand to squeeze and the other to sort of steady and guide it. I have had people tell me this is wrong but if I don't do that the tip of the bag is unsteady and wiggles all over the place. Should I just practise more so it can be steady with just one hand?
Thanks!

21 replies
SeriousCakes Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 4:01am
post #2 of 22

Well, I've only been doing this for 2 years but I say some decorations require 2 hands lol icon_biggrin.gif Some borders I can do with one hand, others need 2, same with flowers and scrolls.

Cakepro Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 5:01am
post #3 of 22

If you really need to steady and guide your tip with your other hand, you are probably overfilling your bag. The fuller your piping bag, the less control you have over the tip. This is why with delicate piping, using a half-bag (or baby bag, as I call them) is so useful.

Additionally, the more buttercream that you have in your bag, the longer it will be in your hand, and it becomes susceptible to being heat damaged (i.e., separating or becoming too soft).

With a parchment bag or 12" plastic bag, one spatula-ful of icing is enough. icon_smile.gif

Of course, others will come behind me and tell you that having a 5 lb batch of buttercream in an 18" piping bag is the best way to do it. LOL

Liniti Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 4:44pm
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakepro



Of course, others will come behind me and tell you that having a 5 lb batch of buttercream in an 18" piping bag is the best way to do it. LOL




That's my style! Makes it easier to squirt the unused BC into my mouth! icon_lol.gif

SeriousCakes Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 5:27pm
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakepro

Of course, others will come behind me and tell you that having a 5 lb batch of buttercream in an 18" piping bag is the best way to do it. LOL




lol-well, I wouldn't say 5 lbs but I like my bags pretty full. Feels weird to hold such a small amount in my hand, I don't know if that's because I have big hands or that's what I'm used to. I don't feel like I have as much control if the bag has only a little bc in it. On the flip side though, when I'm doing scrolls I think I'm going to try the tiny bit of frosting, so I can use the bag as more of a pen, finger control instead of wrist control icon_biggrin.gif

indydebi Posted 29 Mar 2009 , 5:49pm
post #6 of 22

I'm with serious cakes ... it depends on what I'm doing.

fine scrolls and detail work .... I want a smaller bag only about half full for better control.

Putting a shell border on 3 or 4 tiers? Give me a big bag, full of icing, so I can production-line it.

Whatever you are comfortable with ... whatever gives you the best result! thumbs_up.gif

AuntEm Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 2:21am
post #7 of 22

Thanks For your advice!
I'm not happy with the results I'm currently getting so I shall practice, practice, practise and see where that gets me icon_biggrin.gif I think I just need to strengthen my hands more. Which seems kind of funny because I also play the piano and the harp so I would think they were fairly strong already. That doesn't seem to be the case as far as a decorating bag goes though.
Serious cakes- I followed the link in your signature and have been enjoying your videos. You almost always use one hand.

AuntEm Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 2:26am
post #8 of 22

Bother, a double post. icon_redface.gif

TonyaBakes Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 2:52am
post #9 of 22

Cake pro, how much time do you have before you icing gets heat damaged? I had an issue with this for the first time earlier today. Didn't think I was handling the bag more than normal, but was just curious?
Sorry to step in on your post Auntem. I do find it a little helpful to have a smaller bag, but if I'm doing something quick like borders then I do like a fuller bag.

Redlotusninjagrl Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 3:08am
post #10 of 22

I only put one small scoop in the bag and I use both hands. Whether perceived or real, I feel that I have more control. I used to fill up my bag, but after trying to squeeze out a rose where my hands started shaking and sweat was rolling down my face, I decided that was too much work! I now I use smaller quantities, refill the bag often and find it much easier to work with. And again, I still use two hands.

Cakepro Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 3:49am
post #11 of 22

Hi Tonya,

I have kinda warm hands, so if I'm piping with a butter-based buttercream, I need to be pretty quick, but I don't have many heat problems with shortening-based buttercreams because I tend to use a stiffer icing which is more impervious to becoming heat damaged.

Was your house warm today, or were perhaps you doing a technique with a small tip so that the BC stayed in your hand for longer than normal?

littlecake Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 4:34am
post #12 of 22

i decorate with one hand, but i steady the bag with the index finger of my other hand...if that made sense?

SweetPea0613 Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 4:40am
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by littlecake

i decorate with one hand, but i steady the bag with the index finger of my other hand...if that made sense?




I do that too!! Whether the bag is less than half full or really full, I have to steady it...it helps out a lot...and I have a steady hand anyway...so to each his own icon_biggrin.gif

tonedna Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 4:44am
post #14 of 22

Im with those that use one hand and just have that other finger just for comfort..
Edna icon_biggrin.gif

xstitcher Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 5:31am
post #15 of 22

I'm with the last 3! icon_biggrin.gif

luvsfreebies72 Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 5:55am
post #16 of 22

same as the last 4 here icon_biggrin.gif

Chippi Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 2:04pm
post #17 of 22

I steady with my second and third toes! icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

AuntEm Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 5:35pm
post #18 of 22

Oh good, so I'm not the only one that steadies it with the other hand.

Chippi- Wow! know that takes talent. icon_lol.gif

Also I would like to thank you guys for fulfilling a vague ambition for me. I have always though it would be nice to start a thread that went over 1 page long. icon_biggrin.gif I know, I know I'm a nut. icon_lol.gificon_surprised.gificon_lol.gificon_rolleyes.gif

Cakepro Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 5:39pm
post #19 of 22

I think almost everybody uses that spare index finger for steadying the tip. Especially people like me who drink like 12 cups of coffee a day, LOL.

I just dissuade my students from getting into the 2-handed habit.

I shall also try using my toes like Chippi, especially since the Texas Health Dept already assumes we will introduce staph and norovirus into our baked goods. Using our toes like monkeys should not surprise them at all. icon_biggrin.gif

marccrand Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 5:56pm
post #20 of 22

When my mother decorated cakes in the 1980's, she always filled the bag and then folded the top down (kind of like wrapping paper, I often see tiny paper bags for chocolate folded like this) and held onto the folded paper while piping - and in the 80's there was a LOT of piping! icon_biggrin.gif She said that was the way "real" decorators held their bags, novices twisted the end. Well, I tried but could never get very good results, probably because I didn't do it often enough to get good and my hands were smaller then.

Imagine my surprise when I went to my first Wilton class and found that twisting was being taught! icon_eek.gif I felt like I was cheating. I don't know if Mom was just wrong, or pious, or if decorating has just evolved - but I LOVE it! thumbs_up.gif

marccrand Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 5:57pm
post #21 of 22

BTW - in answer to the original question - I use one hand, sometimes using my other hand to hold steady if it's tiny details.

SeriousCakes Posted 30 Mar 2009 , 6:02pm
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by marccrand

I don't know if Mom was just wrong, or pious, or if decorating has just evolved - but I LOVE it! thumbs_up.gif




That's one of things I love about this, there is no 'absolutely MUST do it this way', it's what you prefer doing. I recently learned that one of the reasons I hated making roses on the nail was because of the method, I reversed direction and found it was SO much easier this way! Yeah, I know I know, I have videos showing how to pipe it right on the cake but I recently was trying to teach a class as many different methods as possible, figuring they might have success with at least one method icon_biggrin.gif

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