Cake Decorating 101

Pastry bags with plastic couplers
Assorted decorating tips
Straight and offset icing spatulas
Rotating cake stand or lazy Susan
Food coloring for tinting icing (optional)

Using a Coupler
A plastic coupler allows you to use different decorating tips while piping from one bag. To change decorating tips, unscrew the coupler ring, replace the decorating tip, and replace the ring.

Filling a Pastry Bag
1. "Cuff" the bag top over one hand, or place the bag, tip down, in a tall glass and fold cuff around the rim. Insert icing with a spatula using your other hand, scraping the icing against the side of the bag to release it. Do not fill the bag more than halfway. Unfold the cuff.

2. Gather the top edges together with one hand, and drag the thumb and index finger of your other hand downward to let out air, forcing icing into bag and decorating tip. Twist the top of the bag to close and to maintain pressure.

Creating the Perfect Base
Every icing job begins with a smooth layer of base icing.

1. Place a chilled cake on a platter or cardboard cake round, and transfer it to a rotating cake stand. Smooth on a base layer of slightly chilled buttercream with a straight icing spatula to seal the cake crumbs. Chill the cake until icing has hardened, about 15 minutes.

2. Coat the sides of the cake with 1/4 inch of buttercream. Hold the spatula parallel to the sides of the cake with the blade slightly angled towards you. Apply pressure with the spatula against the sides of the cake, and use your other hand to rotate the cake stand, smoothing the sides.

3. Spread excess icing from the sides onto the top of the cake and add more to coat. Position the spatula almost flat halfway across the top of the cake. Apply pressure as you rotate the cake stand, smoothing the top. Chill until the icing has hardened, about 15 minutes, before decorating.

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