Here comes the fun part! I've spent a lot of time preparing you for the actual decorating in order to eliminate common frustrations that can get in the way of enjoying the process. If you haven't had a chance to read all of the previous tutorials, I recommend that you go back and skim through them to see if there is anything you may have missed. The more you are prepared the more fun this part is going to be.
Wax on, Wax off
Remember the Karate Kid? Man, I loved that movie. Mr. Miyagi coached Daniel to be an awesome Karate champ by having him do what seemed like pointless tasks. Daniel wanted to get to the fun stuff and didn't understand why he had to wax all the cars, paint the fence and sand that enormous deck, but he later learned the wisdom of his mentor. Ok, so I'm not Mr. Miyagi (I'm not even Mrs. Miyagi), but I do have some "Wax On. Wax Off" tasks for you to do. You'll have to trust me that these exercises will help you be an awesome cookie decorator, in better control of your decorating bag.
Piping is the term that refers to the act of squeezing the frosting from a decorating bag, through a decorating tip, and onto your decorating surface (a cookie, in our case). Successful piping is all about pressure control. You will need to learn how hard to squeeze the bag, when to let up, and when to stop squeezing all together. Once you learn this you will be able to do anything.
I have created this printable practice sheet
(40kb .pdf) for you to work with. Print out the sheet and put it in a plastic sheet protector if you have one, or secure it to your work surface with some tape and cover it with wax paper. (You may need to secure the wax paper to the table as well).
Fill up a bag with some frosting you can practice with. I recommend practicing with whichever recipe you will be using for your cookies, since each recipe will handle differently. I would either use Meringue Powder Buttercream
or Royal Icing
. Do not water it down, and put it in a decorating bag with a number 2 or number 3 tip.
I will go through the practice sheet line by line with you, using the following pressure scale: Imagine your squeezing strength on a scale from Zero to 5. Zero is no pressure at all, 1 is a weak squeeze, 2 through 4 is graduated pressure, and 5 is as hard as you can squeeze. I will refer back to this scale in the following lessons. Here we go!