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10 Cake Hacks with Piping Bags

Piping bags are useful to save time when you're cake decorating, even without piping tips! Here are ten ways to use them.

#1 Piping bags for sprinkle borders

Pour sprinkles into a piping bag and cut a small piece off the tip of the bag. Put a tray on a turntable and place your cake on top. If the frosting has already set, brush around the bottom with a damp paintbrush to make it slightly sticky. Now hold your piping bag of sprinkles with the cut end resting on the cake board. Pull it slowly around the cake, letting the sprinkles spill onto the cake board.

using piping bags for sprinkle borders on cakes

Tapping the bag on the cake board will loosen any sprinkles that clog the bag. Now use an offset spatula or a spoon or your hand to scoop up the sprinkles and press them into the cake. The tray will catch any sprinkles that roll off the cakeboard so they don't go everywhere!

using piping bags for a sprinkle border

At the end you can angle the cake board and tap it so that loose sprinkles fall onto the tray. With the help of a piping bag you've made a a pretty sprinkled border! Here's a tutorial with more ways to use sprinkles to decorate cakes!

#2 Piped chocolate decorations for cakes

Use piping bags to make chocolate details to decorate your cakes. Melt chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds at 50% power so it doesn't overheat. To colour it use oil-based colours so that the chocolate doesn't seize.

how to make chocolate decorations for a cake

Spoon the melted chocolate into a piping bag or a sandwich bag like a Ziploc bag. Cut a tiny piece off the tip to squeeze the chocolate through. Squeeze the bag to pipe the chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper or wax paper or baking paper or a silicon mat. You can trace shapes or designs or pipe them freehand.

how to pipe with chocolate

You could leave the chocolate to set at room temperature but it takes about 30 minutes. For a quicker option, slide a cutting board or upside down baking tray underneath the paper. Then lift the tray with the paper and chocolate decorations on it. Put it in the fridge or freezer for 5-10 minutes.

chocolate cake toppers on a number cake

When the chocolate has set you can lift it up with your fingers or slide an offset spatula underneath. Press the chocolate into the frosting on a cake while the frosting is still soft and sticky. Learn how to make a chocolate collar cake in this tutorial!

#3 Pointillist cake designs using piped dots

Pipe elaborate patterns and designs using just piping bags with no piping tips! Start by cutting a tiny piece cut off the end of each piping bag. The more you cut off the bigger your dots will be. It's a good idea to do a test squeeze before piping onto your cake. If you have to use a lot of pressure to get the buttercream out, cut the hole bigger. When you can push the buttercream out easily, your dots will be neater.

using a piping bag with no piping tip for cake decorating on a pointillist cake

Hold your piping bag at the same angle as you pipe so that you're always pulling away from the cake. That way, the little peaks on the dots will all point in the same direction.

#4 Apply cake drips with piping bags

Use piping bags for a foolproof drip on cakes. Heat about a quarter of a cup of heavy whipping cream in the microwave for 20 seconds. Then add 3/4 of a cup of white chocolate chips, pushing them underneath the cream.

how to make a drip

Leave it to melt for 5 minutes and then stir until it's smooth. To tint it, oil-based colours are best because you can add as much as you like to make bright colours. If you only have gel colours used for buttercream, use just a few drops so the chocolate doesn't seize. When the drip cools to room temperature, pour it into a piping bag and cut a tiny piece off the tip.

how to do a cake drip with a piping bag

To apply the drip, pull the piping bag slowly around the outer edge of the cake. Pause and move it just over the edge of the cake to allow each drip to spill over. This is the fastest drip you can apply without any special tools!

how to apply a drip with a piping bag

#5 Piping filling, frosting and cake batter

It's no surprise that piping bags are time-saving for piping! Fill cakes quickly by piping around the edge of each cake layer and spiraling inwards:

how to use piping bags for filling a cake

For frosting, pipe onto the top of the cake and then in zigzags around the cake. By piping the frosting on first, when you spread it it won't pull off crumbs or chunks of cake.

how to frost a cake with piping bags
frosting cakes with piping bags

You can also pipe cake batter! This is really useful for quickly filling cupcake pans without getting batter all over the pan. Tint and pipe cake batter to make unique, colourful cake layers:

pipe batter into cake pans

Make sure you tap the cake pans so that the cakes bake as level as possible. The outer edge will darken as it bakes but the colours inside will stay bright. Cutting into a cake like this is so much fun!

piping cake batter to make rainbow cakes

#6 Piped scallops

Make scallops by piping dots of frosting onto a cake with piping bags. Then swipe them upwards or sideways to flatten and spread them. The trick here is to wipe your offset spatula clean after every swipe so you don't drag the previous colour of buttercream onto the next scallop.

making buttercream scallops

You can use a spoon for this technique instead if you prefer. By covering the cake with these scallops you can create colourful texture quickly and without any special tools.

mermaid cake with buttercream scallops

#7 Using piping bags for striped frosting

To create striped frosting without a striped cake comb, use a piping bag for each colour. Cut the ends off together so that the holes at the ends of the bags are exactly the same size. This way your stripes will all be the same width… or height I guess!

how to use piping bags for buttercream stripes

Squeeze to pipe a ring around the cake. You'll flatten the rings later to make stripes. Continue up the cake, trying to pipe each ring so that it's right against the one below so that there aren't any gaps where you can see the crumb coat of frosting underneath. This will give you the straightest stripes with the most precise division between the colours. If there are any gaps, the colours will blend together where the stripes meet.

how to pipe stripes on a buttercream cake

Scrape around the sides of the cakes several times with a straight edged cake comb. You'll take off the excess frosting and although the stripes won't be perfect, they'll be neat and pretty. It's much quicker and simpler to do striped frosting this way than to use a striped cake comb.

how to make striped frosting with piping bags

#8 Use piping bags with a striped cake comb

If you do have a striped cake comb, use piping bags to fill in the grooves between the stripes created by the cake comb.

how to pipe rainbow striped frosting

Using piping bags is quick, which is key when you're making a striped cake because of temperature. The cake is cold because you have to chill it after using the striped cake comb. That means that now, you need to work fast! You don't want this buttercream between the grooves to chill and set before you scrape off the excess. Piping bags allow you to add these colours quickly so that you can achieve smooth stripes. Check out this tutorial on how to make these rainbow half stripes!

how to make rainbow striped frosting cake

#9 Buttercream transfers for character cakes

Use piping bags to make detailed characters that look like they're made with fondant. Pipe or draw your character and cover it with parchment paper or wax paper. Now trace it with buttercream in piping bags with a tiny piece of the tip cut off. Start with the small details and freeze for 5 minutes after each colour.

how to do buttercream transfers for cakes

Leave the colour with the biggest surface until the end. Spread that colour flat to cover up the frozen details so that they're sticky.

how to make characters with buttercream transfers

Lift the paper up and press it against a chilled cake so that it sticks. Put the cake into the freezer for 15 minutes or the fridge for an hour and then peel the paper off to leave the design behind.

buttercream transfer cake

You can pipe or spread more buttercream over any air pockets to fill them in. Then scrape off the excess to leave a neat, detailed character on your cake! Here's another example:

buttercream transfer cake

#10 Writing messages on cakes with piping bags

To write a message on a cake all you need is a piping bag with a tiny piece cut off the tip. The easiest way to write neatly (I think) is to use loops and swirls in your letters. Also, add a dot at the end of each line by holding still for a moment as you squeeze before lifting the piping bag away. That dot makes the line look more tidy than just pulling away suddenly.

writing messages on cakes with piping bags

Center your messages by starting with the middle letter and working your way out in both directions. Another method is to write your message on paper first to see how much space it will take up.

writing a message on cake with piping bags

I hope this tutorial has been useful. For more cake decorating techniques, tips and tricks, visit my cake school and start your 7 day FREE trial of my All You Can Cake membership, which gives you access to everything on my cake school.

You can also watch a video of this tutorial on 10 cake hacks with piping bags:
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