My Gosh I Stink At This...

Baking By rocketmom1985 Updated 20 Nov 2008 , 1:44pm by Donnagardner

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rocketmom1985 Posted 16 Nov 2008 , 7:34pm
post #1 of 16

my cookies look like a 5 year old did them, and that is being unkind to the kid!

When am I gonna get the hang of this...? How long did some of you have to practice in order for your cookies to look decent I mean, someone would PAY money for them icon_lol.gif?

Should I just get some cardboard practice rounds and pipe til I get better? Jeesh, my hand shakes I am so intent. I know they are just cookies, but duh, I really would like to perfect this craft! icon_redface.gif

Anybody have any tips?

15 replies
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cakedesigner59 Posted 16 Nov 2008 , 8:06pm
post #2 of 16

I don't have any advice, other than to practice. I'm new at cookies too, and I so want to be TracyLH when I grow up (and I'm nearly 50, so I guess I'd better hurry). My hand shakes too. And I don't drink, LOL. I do think you get better with practice, if that's any encouragement. My first cake looked pretty bad too, as I recall.

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Joanne914 Posted 16 Nov 2008 , 8:27pm
post #3 of 16 not WILL get better, I promise! I've been decorating cookies now for a couple of years, and I learn something new EVERY day! Every day I read a comment, or see a pic, here at CC, I think, "OH, I want to try that!" And I do!! Practice is what makes us all better, and everybody here at CC is so amazing at offering help. I know that everything I've learned is from the kind people on this site, who freely give their wisdom and help. Keep at it, and you too will get better! We look forward to seeing your cookies, they will be great!

(Wondering if your hand is shaking while you pipe because your RI is too thick? Sometimes my hand will shake as well, if I'm pressing too hard on the bag because the icing doesn't want to "flow" nicely. BAD icing! lol)

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shiney Posted 16 Nov 2008 , 9:08pm
post #4 of 16

Rocketmom: I rarely like anything I do. I have to say my motorcycle, pregnant and grease cookies are some of the few I was proud of. I too shake, and it drives me crazy. I use squeeze bottles because I think you can hold them more comfortably or like a pen. But TracyLH uses bags, Wonder if that has anything to do with, I suppose it's her amazing talent. Keep at it, you will find a method that works. You might try using RBC and accenting with RI, that way you're not spending time and frustration flooding. And RBC tastes great! I finally had to stop comparing myself to Tracy and some of the other amazing talent here on CC. I could never do cakes either, Cakers are amazing artists!!! I actually looked at a bouquet I did about three years ago, and made me feel SO much better. One day I will post that sad little thing for comparison.

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shiney Posted 16 Nov 2008 , 9:11pm
post #5 of 16
Originally Posted by cakedesigner59

My hand shakes too. And I don't drink, LOL. .

Hum, maybe a drink or two would help icon_wink.gif Or might help in the creativity department icon_biggrin.gif

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cakedesigner59 Posted 16 Nov 2008 , 9:51pm
post #6 of 16
Originally Posted by shiney

Originally Posted by cakedesigner59

My hand shakes too. And I don't drink, LOL. .

Hum, maybe a drink or two would help icon_wink.gif Or might help in the creativity department icon_biggrin.gif

Well, maybe I should take a sip, you know, just for experiemental purposes.

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kimsmom Posted 16 Nov 2008 , 11:28pm
post #7 of 16

Try resting your hand on top of something slightly elevated like a tuna can and turning or moving the cookie as you decorate it. Pad it if you need to. I use this when my hand gets tired and I have lots of cookies to do. Like shiney I also use squeeze bottles, regular ones and ones that you can change piping tips. This helps whenever I outline, because I don't have to change the icing consistency. I also keep the bottles I'm using at the moment upsidedown in coffee mugs with a damp paper towel folded up on the bottom to keep them from drying out.
Keep trying ideas until one works for you.
Hope this helps.

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yankeegal Posted 17 Nov 2008 , 2:23am
post #8 of 16

We have all been there...I look at some pics of my first cookies and I just crinch-Blech!!
I use parchment cones to do my detail work and I hold the bag in my right hand and squeeze and use my left fore-finger by the tip to help guide my lines. This has helped me with the "shakiness."
Just need to keep practicing too!
There are days when we all need "experimental sipping!" icon_biggrin.gif

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indydebi Posted 17 Nov 2008 , 3:56am
post #9 of 16

You've gotten some good tips here .... icing too thick, prop your arm. I'll add that sometimes, when doing something new, we try to be re-e-e-e-aly CAREful and we move our hands/arms slow. Moving slow will contribute to your hand shaking. going faster gives smoother lines.

When I first did stringwork, I was so bad at it that I thought I'd never accomplish it. Then I discovered the "work faster, not careful" rule and almost instantly, I could just fly thru doing stringwork!

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just_for_fun Posted 17 Nov 2008 , 4:23am
post #10 of 16

My dd had an evaluation done for sensory issues, and she had that "shake" when she placed blocks on top of each others. I was told it's part of being perfectionist, she is so intent on getting the block in the "perfect" place that her hand used to shake. She has outgrown this problem, but i learned from this that if you're too nervous and intent, it doesn't come out half has nicely than if you're relaxed and smooth. (hey, maybe a drink could accomplish that)

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TracyLH Posted 18 Nov 2008 , 6:46pm
post #11 of 16

Rocketmom1985 Dont be discouraged as it just takes time and you obviously have the desire to do it, so with that and practice, you will get there. Regarding the shaking, I used to do the exact same thing as I was trying to get it perfect. Until I could get that shaking behind me, I made an adjustment (this may sound odd.). I held my arms and pastry bag still and moved my upper body as I piped as it was my arms that were the shaking issue. Strange, yes, but it worked. Also, at times I held my breath (well, I still do that sometimes for detail work) as that helped also. With time, practice and confidence the shaking went away. I also recommend Antonia74s RI recipe as I found it much easier to work with than the old one I had. Also, I had more trouble if my icing was too stiff, like Joanne914 and Indydebi mentioned.

Practicing will help with confidence which will in turn help with the shaking, so you might want to bake a bunch of rounds and just play around or go with your great idea with cardboard. (My family votes for the practice cookies as they are decidedly yummier than the cardboard.) You can also practice piping on wax paper. On this end, I sometimes throw a few unpiped cookies in the freezer to play with later when I want to try a new technique. Also, there is a lot of great talent here on CC (many whom I wish I could be when I grow up and one of my favorite cookie CCers, JenWhitlock, does amazing cakes too! No limit to her talent!). Many here share their tips and techniques. If you have time, you might want to look through the Cookie Forum as people will post questions about a problem they might be having and will get a wealth of responses back that might in turn help you. So dont be discouraged and keep practicing.

As for your question, I have been doing cookies only about once or twice a year for about 9 years (birthday and holiday) and started kicking in this past summer and I will say that a lot of time practicing has gone into it. If I had stopped doing them based on how my old ones looked, I never would have found something I truly enjoy, so dont give up! And if it is any consolation, it still does not come naturally for me as it seems it does for many others when I look at their pics. I dont just think of a cookie, grab a pastry bag and whip it out. I spend a lot of time in the design stage, sketching away and when that is done, I bake several more cookies than I need in order to have practice cookies and will go through several until I get it the way I want. (Can you say Type A? icon_lol.gif ) So, at least in my case, if you ever happen to see any of my pics, dont think they were just whipped out as that is so far from the case. I just didnt want you to think it comes easily to everyone here and thus be too hard on yourself. I, myself, have to really work at it, but have hopes that over time, I can speed up the process as I do really enjoy creating them and just need to do it pick up the speed.

To sum it up, my biggest recommendation would be to practice. icon_smile.gif It has worked for me. I promise you that over time it will get easier and your technique will get closer to what you want. Just give it some time. I wish I could find a photo of one of my first cookies so you could get a chuckle and not be too hard on yourself. I look forward to seeing your future cookie pics!

There... end of novel! Hopefully this doesn't shut down the site! icon_biggrin.gif

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rocketmom1985 Posted 20 Nov 2008 , 1:34am
post #12 of 16

Thank you all so very much for your advice...this is such a great forum! I think that I will check the icing consistancy, and perhaps use Tova's (sp?) flooding icing vs what I have been using...RI thinned out. I just purchased a squeeze bottle to test, and I think I was trying to use my older cookie cutters...the cookies are just too small. Ordered some new cutters so this may make a difference. I also purchased two used cookie books at Amazon with some great instructions according to the reviews. I will be armed and ready for my next cookie session.

Thanks again...

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GeminiRJ Posted 20 Nov 2008 , 12:51pm
post #13 of 16

While I believe that "practice makes perfect" definitely applies to cookie decorating, I think you also have to be kind to yourself! Don't be so critical (says the woman who nit-picks everything she does!) Figure out one thing about the cookie that you want to improve, and work on that. I've accepted that I have my limitations, and while I stretch my abilities every now and then, I tend to fall back on what I know I can do well. Good luck!

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angelatx Posted 20 Nov 2008 , 1:30pm
post #14 of 16

i know what can make you feel better rocketmom! look at my cookies, hehe. they are awful, but i know with practice it will eventually get better. icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif have a great day everyone!!! icon_biggrin.gif

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JenWhitlock Posted 20 Nov 2008 , 1:32pm
post #15 of 16

very sage advise Gemini!!!
I went though a patch where I was very disapointed, so I decided to 'go back to basics' i.e. the stuff I knew how to do. I was so much happier with the results, and have been able to inch into the tougher stuff.

I think that you will start to find techniques that work for you.
(I have found that I'm pretty good a piping designs on cookies, but pretty bad at smoothing MBC, so I prefer fondant and my favorite cakes have RI cookie decos on them icon_lol.gif ) have you tried fondant on cookies?

btw, I was the WORST at piping when I took my Wilton classes. seriously, it was really bad. then I decided to make it work and found some things that I was doing wrong (like having my icing to thick).

it will come, keep in there!
I might suggest, keeping looking at photos to get inspired to do more.

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Donnagardner Posted 20 Nov 2008 , 1:44pm
post #16 of 16

My hand shakes when I decorate and to steady it I just touch my decorating bag with one finger from the other hand to steady it and it makes all the difference in the world. You don't need to apply a lot of pressure either just lightly touch it.

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