Piping bags, also known as pastry bags, are used to decorate pies and cakes. Additionally, they are used to fill pastries. Manufacturers make piping bags from plasticized fabric or canvas.
The canvas makes these bags more durable, while the plastic coating on the inside makes it reusable as it is easy to clean.
All designs have a cone shape. On one end, the piping bag has a small opening, while on the other, there is a large opening.
On the small opening, you can fit different tips to give your filling the decorative effect that you want.
Piping bags come in various sizes ranging from small to extra-large. The small ones are ideal for making fine details on cookies and cakes while the larger ones are great for filling pastries like doughnuts.
If you come across a recipe that requires using one yet you have none, you may need to use a substitute.
There are various piping bag alternatives including; plastic sandwich bags, kitchen towels, paper, depositors, cookie press, confectionery funnels, and Ziploc bags.
You will realize how easy it is to make your own bag at home using materials that are readily available in your kitchen, but before that, let’s talk about how to use them effectively.
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How to Use a Piping Bag
To use a piping bag, you first have to fill it. The best way to fill it is by holding the bag right at the middle and folding over the top part/ opening to form a cuff over your hand.
By doing so, you can easily fill it with frosting, cream, or any other ingredient without creating a mess since the frosting or filling will not drip down the outside of the piping bag.
I recommend that you use a spoon to place the filling into the bag. You also shouldn’t fill it completely. Instead, fill it halfway.
If you fill the bag completely, you won’t be able to twist the top opening shut, and you will have trouble piping,
The piping process is not too difficult, but you may need a little bit of practice. The first thing you need to do is twist it.
Your hand should be behind the mass of filling. Gently press the mass of filing from the back. Do not squeeze it from the middle. If you do, the filling will come out from the top part of the bag.
Here are a few substitutes that you can use when you don’t have one in your kitchen.
Most of them will give you almost perfect results.
A plastic sandwich bag is arguably the best piping bag alternative. The best part about it is that the bags are disposable.
Additionally, plastic sandwich bags are readily available, and you won’t have any problem using or handling them.
There as several plastic sandwich bag varieties in the market including standard bags, zip-top bags, and slider-tip bags. I recommend that you use the varieties that have a fold-over design at the top.
To use the sandwich bag, pour in the frosting, then use your hands to push the frosting to one corner, then twist the top part of the sandwich bag shut.
Use scissors to make small cuts at the tip. However, if you can make a big cut if you plan to fill pastries.
If you want to design your cake or pastries, you can add a metal pastry piper to the sandwich bag before you add the frosting. This way, you can easily make designs.
You can create a makeshift bag using a kitchen towel and line it with plastic wrap.
To make it, lay the kitchen towel on a flat surface, then cover it with plastic wrap. After that, use the kitchen towel to make a cone and tape it so that it does not fall apart.
After you are done, fill it with frosting then twist the top part to cover it before you start piping.
Not that this alternative will only work if you want to fill pastries. It may not be ideal if you are looking for an alternative to decorate your pastries or cakes.
You can use parchment paper, greaseproof paper, or waxed paper as a suitable substitute.
All you need to do is cut a square out of the paper, then fold it to form a triangle. After folding, roll the paper to form a cone and you are good to go. I highly recommend taping the cone for better results.
You will use the ending point of the cone to dispense frosting, but before you start piping, fold the top of the cone.
Paper is a good choice, and chances are you already have it in your kitchen.
If you bake frequently, you can go for ones that are large machinery.
Depositors are a great option because they will give results similar to those of the original product.
Additionally, they are more precise and get the work done at a much faster rate compared to piping bags.
You can use a cookie press the same way you use a piping bag. It is ideal for filling as well as decoration. There are different varieties of cookie press available in the market.
Although cookie press is an ideal choice, you should only use it if you are experienced, or if you use it often.
This is because you will not have so much control the way you do when using a it.
The downside of using a cookie press is that it does not hold a lot of frosting. Therefore, you will have to refill it several times before you are done decorating.
A confectionery funnel is an ideal substitution when making biscuits and cookies. It is ideal for filling.
I recommend going for a confectionery funnel made from clear plastic. You can easily buy the funnels at bakers’ shops.
I love this one because I can use it to dispense fondant, frosting, ganache, or even cream.
Most people use Ziploc bags to store leftovers, but you can also use them as well.
To use it, you need to first fill up the bag with frosting.
After you do, close down the bag at the top, then make a small cut at one of the corners. The cut must be small because this way you can easily decorate cakes and pies.
However, if you want to use the bag to fill pastries, you can make a bigger hole.
Well, now you are spoiled of choice. Go pick one and see the magic