Ina Garten's Secret To Using A Pastry Bag

Let's face it. When you're trying to decorate your baked goods with a specific, polished look, a rubber spatula or spoon probably isn't going to cut it. That's where a pastry bag comes in. The tool is pretty much essential for both professional and home bakers, especially those who want to create beautiful, eye-catching cakes or cupcakes. But if you've ever plopped buttercream into a Ziploc before with the hopes of creating a cake worthy of being photographed, you've probably discovered piping isn't as easy as you'd think. (Though celebrity chefs on baking shows make it look effortless, let's not forget people go to school to learn how to do this professionally.)

Make one minor error, like overfilling the bag or squeezing out too much frosting at once and before you know it, you'll end up with a sticky, sugary mess. But before you give up on your dream of one day creating beautiful buttercream roses, you might want to pay attention to celebrity chef and baking aficionado Ina Garten's advice about avoiding frosting fails.

It turns out when it comes to using a pastry bag, much like riding a bike or playing piano, the age-old saying is true: Practice makes perfect. And it appears Garten agrees with this sentiment, because after one user left a query on the "Ask Ina" section of her site asking how to better handle a pastry bag, she responded, "The only way to learn ... is to practice."

Ina Garten says practicing with this ingredient can better your pastry bag skills

Concerned about wasting an entire batch of frosting for the sake of working on your skills? Ina Garten has a genius suggestion. "I would make a big bowl of whipped cream, fill a pastry bag, and pipe the whipped cream onto a cutting board. When you're done, scoop it into the bag, and try again until you get the hang of it," she explained on her "Ask Ina" section.

The nice thing about using whipped cream as a practice frosting is that it may be a little easier to work with. Per Cake Decorist, it has a similar texture to traditional buttercream but is slightly more lightweight. Additionally, it's a pretty versatile ingredient, which means you don't have to worry about it being wasted if you don't actually plan on decorating a cake with it. Use it to top off your coffee or scoop it on some fruit for a treat that requires no baking at all. Any excess can be stored in the fridge for a few days (via Kitchn). 

Of course, if you're not keen on using fresh dairy for a trial frosting, you've got other options. Faye's Food says practicing your piping with shortening is a great way to work on your skills without spending money on fresh cream. Eventually, like Garten, you'll be piping like a pro.