Pastry Bags 101 with Cupcake Decorator Hannah Cantrell

Posted on October 23, 2013
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Perfectly frosted and sprinkled cupcakes lined the display at Cake Crumbs, a snug yet bustling bakery located in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver, Colorado. We stopped by the quaint eatery to get the expert scoop on pastry bags—a cone-shaped bag with a narrow opening used to decorate pastries.  A.M. baker and cupcake decorator Hannah Cantrell talked to us about the different kinds pastry bags, how to use them, and even let us sample some of her work on the way out.

Food Service Warehouse: How do you go about choosing a pastry bag?

Hannah Cantrell: It depends on what you’re decorating and the consistency of the frosting. For the most part, nothing ever goes into pastry bags other than frosting or something you’re going to dress a pastry with. Frosting that’s really thick isn’t going to come out of the pastry bag too fast, so you’re going to have to use one with a bigger opening. If you’re writing on a cake, you’re going to want something a lot smaller so you can be precise and make your letters look nice—you can’t have a big cumbersome bag.

cupcakes on display

Different pastry tips create unique swirls for the cupcakes at Cake Crumbs.

FSW: What size of pastry bag do you prefer using?

HC: Personally, I like the little ones. There are a lot of different sizes of pastry bags, but it depends on what’s comfortable in your hands. The tip of the pastry bag is more important because it decides what shape comes out and how much comes out. I like the small ones better because it’s like a little handful. I like writing on pastries and it’s more comfortable with smaller ones.

FSW: Are there any special tricks to getting the tip on the pastry bag?

HC: Not really, you just need to have all the hardware. You have to cut the end off of the pastry bag and put the pastry tip on. But if you cut the hole too big, it’ll slowly get bigger from pushing frosting out. Then it pukes frosting everywhere.

plastic pastry bag

Here’s an example of a plastic pastry bag with a variety of tips.

FSW: You mentioned you use plastic pastry bags. Do you ever use canvas ones?

HC: Canvas pastry bags are more for in home use, in my opinion. They’re perfect for making a dozen cupcakes because then you can go wash them right away. We use plastic pastry bags for a day or two then just toss them before they get too dirty. There are different kinds of plastic one but it’s more of a personal preference–it doesn’t change how you use the pastry bag.

FSW: So you don’t use reusable ones?

HC: I wish we did because reusable bags are good for the earth. But reusable pastry bags are really time consuming and just plain messy. It’s also hard to use them because you can’t just have one canvas bag that’s universal, you would have to have multiple ones with different sized holes to make it work.

FSW: What are common issues you have with pastry bags and how do you resolve them?

HC: That’s the nice thing about canvas pastry bags—you really don’t have many problems with them. With plastic pastry bags, if the frosting is too dense you’ll get a bubble and it will pop open when you squeeze the frosting out.

more display cupcakes

FSW: Are there any tricks to filling up a pastry bag with frosting?

HC: Rolling the frosting and slowly putting it in. A lot of people think you can just dump it in there, but it takes patience. Just keep the frosting away from the top, that’s what the best trick would be.

FSW: Any advice for novice bakers looking to use a pastry bag?

HC: Practice. That’s what I did. We make truck cupcakes, so they’re not iced like regular cupcakes. We would do thousands of them, and when I first started they would actually make me frost them. So a lot of practice and repetition.

FSW: Anything else you’d like to add?

HC: Don’t take it too seriously…just find what you feel is comfortable.

To see canvas, nylon and plastic pastry bags from Food Service Warehouse click here.

For more information about Cake Crumbs Bakery and all their delicious offerings, check out there website here.

John Garcia John Garcia (51 Posts)

Amateur cook, expert eater. Originally from Granby, Colorado, I'm a mountain boy who enjoys the simple things in cheeseburgers and pet cats. I'm also a blogger for Food Service Warehouse who enjoys writing about food just as much as eating it.

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