When it comes to decorating cakes, many things work together to achieve the desired results. If you change just one of these things, the results will turn out differently. Getting everything right definitely takes a lot of practice. However, the more you concentrate on getting each step right, the better your chance for success.

Every cake decoration that comes out of a piping bag is based on three things: icing consistency, bag position, and pressure control. It’s important to pay attention to all of these things while you decorate cakes because each one can have an affect on the desired outcome. At first it can seem difficult trying to concentrate on everything at once but with time and practice it becomes second nature.

1. Icing Consistency

A lot of people don’t realize that the consistency of the icing plays a big role in how it looks coming out of the tip. Certain decorations look better when the icing is thin and other decorations look better when the icing is stiff. If the icing is not quite right, your decorations may lack uniformity.

Stiff icing is used for large and upright decorations such as roses, flower petals, and figure piping. Flower petals will droop if the icing is not stiff enough. A little more confectioners’ sugar will stiffen up a batch of icing. But if the icing cracks when you pipe it out, it’s probably too stiff. Thin icing is used for printing, writing, vines and leaves. Usually drops of water or milk can be added to a batch of icing to thin it out. Medium icing is used for most other types of decorations.

2. Bag Position

In addition to the consistency of the icing, the way you hold the bag plays a large role in how decorations look coming out of the tip. The angle of the tip relative to the work surface as well as the direction will change the way your decorations curl, point and lie. You should experiment and see how your decorations change when you hold the bag straight up at a 90 degree angle, or if you hold the bag halfway between vertical and horizontal at a 45 degree angle. You should also pay attention to the position of the back of the bag. Some cake decorating instructions will direct you to hold the bag at a position of 6 o’clock (with the back of the bag pointing towards you) or 3 o’clock (with the back of the bag pointing to your right).

3. Pressure Control

There are three types of pressure control: heavy, medium, and light. How hard you squeeze and relax your grip on the bag will affect the size and uniformity of your designs. After a while, you will start to figure out how to use just the right amount of pressure to achieve the look you want.