We've reached the final part of our ten week series and today we are focusing on modern and artistic piping – one of the first techniques I ever learnt from my mum but also one of the last to master. In fact I would go as far as to say I've not 'mastered' it yet. There is so much potential with piping – from the simple to the very intricate. Piping is definitely a technique that needs a lot of practice, and patience, and I've still got a lot to learn.
That being said, there are some examples of the technique that I'm confident in – and they definitely work well for modern and artistic cakes...
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE EXAMPLES
DOTS. I talked about piped dots back in week seven when we covered metallics, and it's true – adding metallic food colouring to a piped dot instantly brings a special and celebratory touch to your design. It's also possible, however, to create modern and creative effects with plain white piped dots, or coloured painted dots.
Most of the time piped dots aren't the main focus of a design but an additional touch that brings another layer of personality to the cake. They work really well at balancing an overall design and they can lead the eye from one element to another, or from one tier to another, somehow blurring the lines between two different styles or techniques (if needed).
There are occasional times when piped dots are the star of the show – often with varying sizes to add depth and interest. On these designs quantity as well as quality is important, as the number of dots (and their placement) can be the difference between a lifeless and plain design and something truly stunning, modern and artistic.
PATTERN. I've mentioned pattern before in this series on techniques, that's because it is a great way to add personality to a design. My favourite type of patterns are those that have meaning – whether by taking inspiration from something you love such as your favourite nature-inspired scene or hobby, or by using a pattern that has a cultural influence.
Piped designs, especially when kept white or with understated colouring, help prevent a pattern from becoming too bold or loud. Small touches of piped pattern used with other techniques such as royal icing textures and wafer paper flowers can look both romantic and artistic, whereas large areas of piped pattern (perhaps around an entire tier) can look very modern and style focused when carefully balanced with other techniques.
WHERE TO START?
Piping is not a difficult technique to start learning, but it does take time and patience to improve. When you start out you might find that your piped lines or dots look clumsy and untidy – but persevere and you will get the hang of it.
It is possible to pipe with other mediums such as butter-icing or chocolate but, more often than not, royal icing is used. The consistency of your royal icing is very important and something you need to experiment with. Most of the time something resembling a slightly thick toothpaste is sufficient but other times you might need the icing slightly runnier or stiffer. The consistency effects how the icing flows out of the piping nozzle and sets on the cake – so have a play to see what works best for your design.
Speaking of nozzles, in general – the smaller the nozzle the finer the detail you can achieve, and the larger the nozzle the less refined your design will be. For most of my piping (including dots and patterns) I use a size 1, 1.5, or 2 nozzle – depending on the feel of the design.
If you are looking for inspiration for your own wedding or celebration cake and like the sound of piping but you are worried it will look too traditional or dated – then (first of all make sure you choose your cake designer wisely, but also...) suggest something such as piped dots which can add that additional detail to a cake whilst keeping the overall design modern and artistic.
Well there we have it – the end of our ten week series. The weeks have flown by and we have covered a lot: Sugar Flowers, Wafer Paper, Shapes, Models, Watercolour Painting, Textured Painting, Metallics, Coloured Icing, Royal Icing Textures, and Piping.
I hope you have enjoyed the series and found it helpful. Do feel free to ask me any questions about the techniques and I wish you all of the best with your cake design choices.