Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Mini Post

We're going to do a quick mini post for you as a nice little link from piping bags to nozzles.

This post is to explain couplers!! If you haven't come across a coupler before then you're missing out!!

Couplers, also known as adapters, are a cheeky bit of cake decorating equipment that don't look very exciting but can save you a lot of time and a lot of messing around.

To use a coupler you simply unscrew it and place the body of the coupler inside your piping bag.  Then, on the outside of the bag you put your nozzle and screw it on!! 

"And the reason for this is?" you ask!! Well when you are busy piping your blue stars, for example, and then decide that actually you want to now pipe blue dots you can simply unscrew the nozzle and change it over. Without a coupler the nozzle would be inside the bag and so you would have to empty the bag out (which is a messy job!) and change the nozzle and then re-fill it.

The standard sized coupler fits all standard sized nozzles.  You can also find a large coupler that fits the larger nozzles.

Ok, so we admit it.  This isn't the most thrilling of posts but it's sometimes these small bits of information that make all the difference so we hope you'll excuse us!!!

Piping Bags

It seems that a lot of people are scared of piping bags!! Well, they can be pretty scary! Particularly if you have one that decides to pipe not only from the bottom but from the top and through the seam too!!

You don't have to be wary of them though as, with a little bit of practise, they are a great addition to your cake decorating equipment and give you the versatility of being able to use a wide range of nozzles with them (we've met many people at events who are disappointed to learn that the fabulous Mr Whippy nozzle cannot be used with their treasured plunger decorator!!).

When it comes to choosing a piping bag you have a couple of options.

Firstly there are the disposable bags.  Many people prefer these as they do exactly as they say on the tin (well, they come in a box actually!!).  Simply use them and then throw them away (don't forget to take your nozzle out first though!!).  It means less mess and less washing up HOORAH!!! but if you are decorating a lot of cakes/ cupcakes you may find that you go through quite a few bags.  But saying that we do think that they are worth having in the cupboard as sometimes the thought of washing up buttercream from your piping bag is just too much!!

Secondly you have the trusty re-usable piping bags.  You will find these in many shops including some supermarkets.  But be warned you do get what you pay for.  Some bags seem a great price but when you actually use them you will find that the icing is piping from places you wish is wasn't!! This is particularly true if you choose a bag that is stitched down the side - quite often the stitches start to stretch and icing sneaks out (tut tut!). Our favourite piping bags are the Wilton Featherweight Bags.  These come in a variety of sizes and are glued, not stitched.

In fact we have a number of these bags that we use all the time that we have been using for years and years.  They can go in the dishwasher (top shelf) and are a fantastic quality.

The trick to using piping bags (whether disposable or re-usable) is getting comfortable holding them.  You will find that you have your own style of piping but here are some pointers to get you started:

  • Don't over fill the bag.  Don't fill more than half full otherwise you will find the icing coming out of the top!!
  • Once you've filled the bag give it a twist so that you keep the icing in place in the bag - this also helps put pressure on the icing so that when you start piping the icing should come out nice and easily!
  • Don't put your second hand around the bag whilst you are piping.  If you need to steady the bag (as a lot of people do) then simply use your finger and direct the piping bag by pushing the nozzle.  If you put your whole hand around the piping bag then you are warming up the icing and eventually it will get very hot and not very nice!!
  • Take your time.  Piping takes practise...but once you've got it then, well, you've got it!!
  • Get your icing right!! The right consistency icing makes a huge difference.  If your icing is too stiff then you will probably find that you are popping veins in your neck as you try to push the icing out.  The icing needs to be a nice medium consistency - not too thin as you don't want it running out but not so stiff than you can't get it out of the bag.  Before you fill the bag give it a good stir and make sure it is nice and soft.  If not add a little bit of milk or water (but not too much at a time!!).

We hope this helps - if it doesn't then please tell us how we've confused you :o) and we'll do our best to explain!!  We'll be back soon with details on the nozzles...

Thursday, 16 June 2011

The humble palette knife

For those of you who have attended one of our classes you will have seen just how useful the small palette knife is when you are decorating cupcakes.  It's so versatile and is probably one of the best pieces of equipment you can buy.
If you haven't been on a course then fear not because we're about to give you the lowdown on why they're so important!!

In the big scheme of things the humble palette knife doesn't seem very exciting.  Well, not when you compare it to edible glitter or some funky cake cases.  But it really is one of the best things you can buy when starting to decorate cupcakes (or if you've been decorating them for a while but using the back of a spoon to spread the icing!!)

You can buy a straight palette knife and an angled palette knife.  Both can be used for most jobs but the angled palette knife has the added benefit of keeping your fingers away from the icing when you are spreading it (or if you are filling a cake with jam!!)

So let's take a quick look at what the palette knife can help you with;

First of all it's a great way to flat ice your cupcakes - simply place a 'dollop' of buttercream in the middle of your cupcake and then spread it out using the palette knife.  Simple 

It is great for using to fill your piping bags - keeps mess to the minimum.

Ideal for picking up your sugar/gum paste decorations (slide the palette knife underneath them and transfer to your cake).  This limits the amount of damage you cause to the decoration - particularly if it isn't completely dry.

Once you own one you really won't know how you survived without it.  And remember, we don't recommend anything that we don't use and love ourselves!!

Happy Decorating :o)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Colour Pastes

The first products we are going to take a look at are the colour pastes.
Now, if you've been cake decorating for a while you have probably come across these and, if you are like us, probably have a cupboard full of every colour available.
However, if you've only just started cake decorating you may not have seen these as they are not available in the supermarkets.

Most of us grew up using the liquid colours - remember when you would dye your icing so dark that when you took a bite you ended up with a coloured moustache?  Well liquid colours certainly have their place but once you've discovered the colour pastes then there's no looking back.

When you use liquid colours you will find that not only do you have to use quite a lot they will also alter the consistency of your icing.  The colours they produce are not very vibrant and the range of colours is also very limited.

Colour pastes are concentrated colour and although the pot they come in seems quite small you only use such a small amount that if you are only baking at home you will find that the pots last for months, if not years. 

We tend to use the Wilton Colour pastes on our courses but there are other brands available.

Here's how you use them;

To use these paste colour simply dip a cocktail stick into the paste and then add to your icing.  Mix your icing together and then repeat (using a clean cocktail stick each time) until you have the shade you desire (you will not need very much colour as they are very strong)
These paste colours are great for colouring all icing including glace, buttercream and sugarpaste (fondant/rolled out icing) 

To colour sugarpaste (fondant/rolled out icing) simply dip the cocktail stick into the colour paste, as before, and then stick that into the sugarpaste.  Then just need the icing together.  You will probably find that it will have a marble effect to start with but keep going and the colour will work it's way through.
A top tip when colouring sugarpaste though is to make sure that you don't have any other colours on your hands before you start kneading the icing.  If you are colouring up a mix of colours then start with the palest colour first and then move on to the darker colours.

You can also mix the colour pastes together to make a different colour.  For example if you mix Kelly Green and Sky Blue together you will end up with a beautiful turquoise!! 

In this picture we have used sky blue, lemon yellow and rose pink

Happy Colouring!!

Baking Crazy

Hello and welcome to our new blog!

Although we already have a well established website and a blog about our cake decorating classes we've decided that it might be a good idea to take a better look at some of our products.

Mums Who Bake was established 3 years go when the founder, Vicki Hoskins realised that although she loved her new cake decorating hobby she didn't always know which equipment she needed or indeed what equipment was available.  With fewer and fewer cake decorating shops around it's hard to find someone to ask and even if you do find one it's easy to feel a little bit silly when asking how to use something.  So she decided to set up a business where no-one should feel silly asking because we all have to start somewhere. 

So if you're looking for a piece of equipment or want to know how to use something then please don't be afraid to ask as we're more than happy to help.  We'll also do out best to detail the products that we've got on sale (and we only sell products that we have used and are happy with!!)

Happy Baking :o)