Any suggustions for getting the right consistency in icing for piping? I'm having a hard time getting it smooth enough without being to soft to doing designs and messages..Thank-you!
Practice practice practice. That's all you really can do, there's no secret to getting it right everytime. Just start with your frosting too thick, then add small amounts of liquid until you get it right.
Adding piping gel or corn syrup to your icing will help as well.
Also, it depends on what you want to pipe. Some flowers require a stiffer consistancy, where some that lay flat or borders will need a medium, and writing or lines would be thin.
Start with a stiff. If you can stand up a decorating knife and it won't move, it's stiff. Medium it will stand up for a second or so and fall. Thin, it will be easier to stir and and will be about the consistancy of canned icing.
A general rule that I use is to again, start with stiff, and add 1 tsp of water for each cup of icing to make a good medium consistancy. 2 tsp for thin and of course, piping gel does help to make those nice lines.
But it really does take practice and sometimes it depends on the weather or sometimes just the mood of the icing.
cvigil, that is about the best explanation I have ever seen on this topic!