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Pastry Bag/Tip Alternatives


fooey
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I was making macaroons yesterday when I made an executive decision:

"No more pastry bags for me. I must find an alternate solution to the tedious, messy, manual, and slow duties necessiated by the pastry bag."

:blink::huh::unsure::wacko:

Surely there's a tool (or other solution) available that makes the pastry bag a less essential tool in the pastry chef kitchen.

Is there?

Glue guns, nail guns, both examples, have long replaced the glue bottle, hammer, and we're still stuck with "pastry bottles". :biggrin:

What do large production kitchens use? :blink:

Thomas.

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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I love pastry bags for their simplicity. Easy to replace, easy to clean, easy to store, easy to use.

Sure there are cookie presses (even electric ones), but you don't quite have the control over them like you do a pastry bag. Also, they don't hold as much and you have to keep refilling them.

If you get into large scale production bakeries where pastry bags are unrealistic, then you are looking at large machinery (like depositors) that do the same job as a pastry bag, but much quicker and much more precisely.

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No pastry bags? Yikes! Wouldn't want to go there.

Pastry bags are easy and disposable. I often use a big glass to hold the pastry bag while I'm filling it, and then use a "chip-clip" to clamp the top closed. And you can use a corne to every last bit down to the tip.

I for one couldn't do without.

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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I made macarons the other night and was thinking about how bad I am with a pastry bag. I'm making more tomorrow and actually dreading piping them because I'm so bad at it. I think I just need to sit down with some Cool-Whip and a pastry bag one day and practice. Then I might get better at it.

There's nothing so bad in this life that pork fat can't make better.

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Many years ago I took a course on cake decorating as I had young kids and wanted to make some of their bithday cakes myself. It was really helpful. We practiced over and over with frosting of various densities, but I would think that coolwhip would be too soft, even for practice. I'd buy whatever canned frosting was cheapest and use it over and over, you could ref it for practice with a firmer texture. It really made me appreciate how useful (and easy) pastry bags are, and how underpaid good cake decorators are. :rolleyes:

PS I stopped bringing cakes to school when one of their teachers didn"t want to take "no" for don't I want to make some cakes for her?

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fooey, what exactly is it that you don't like about pastry bags?

Personally, I've stopped buying proper bags and now just use whatever ziploc or sandwich bags I have on-hand. I just snip one corner off to accommodate the couplers. I find they're more flexible than pastry bags so I have better control with them. YMMV of course.

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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fooey, I empathize with your quest.

I bought a confectionery funnel to fill my chocolate shells, and I don't use it. I found it takes as much time as, and more clean-up than, a pastry bag. I tried using plastic ketchup bottles with tips cut off at various points, and found myself refilling them constantly. I turned to the gal I hired to do some baking in my shop, and it turns out she is a whiz with a pastry bag, filling shells faster than I can fill a pastry bag. Now, if I could only persuade her to use plastic bags, so any unused contents could be preserved as suggested in a previous thread by someone brilliant, I might be perfectly happy. Or perhaps I could follow the suggestions above and practice with the bags myself. Hmmmm...

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Personally, I've stopped buying proper bags and now just use whatever ziploc or sandwich bags I have on-hand. I just snip one corner off to accommodate the couplers. I find they're more flexible than pastry bags so I have better control with them. YMMV of course.

As far as using random bags as pastry bags goes, I like using washed-out milk bags. They're the right size, and sturdy enough to stand up to being squashed around.

Kate

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We practiced over and over with frosting of various densities, but I would think that coolwhip would be too soft, even for practice.  I'd buy whatever canned frosting was cheapest and use it over and over, you could ref it for practice with a firmer texture.                                                                                         

This is a great idea. You're right on the texture aspect. I'd been thinking about that ever since I read the Cool-Whip suggestion. I'm going to have to go with the frosting!

There's nothing so bad in this life that pork fat can't make better.

My Blog

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We practiced over and over with frosting of various densities, but I would think that coolwhip would be too soft, even for practice.  I'd buy whatever canned frosting was cheapest and use it over and over, you could ref it for practice with a firmer texture.                                                                                         

This is a great idea. You're right on the texture aspect. I'd been thinking about that ever since I read the Cool-Whip suggestion. I'm going to have to go with the frosting!

Or maybe instant mashed potatoes, made up to whatever density you want to practice with? (I didn't make this up myself. I think the idea came from Regan Dailey's book In The Sweet Kitchen.)

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I think RLB's Cake Bible has a "practice buttercream" recipe. I haven't used it, but she says it's stable enough to keep using and then putting back into the bag for reuse.

Edited by plk (log)
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I think RLB's Cake Bible has a "practice buttercream" recipe. I haven't used it, but she says it's stable enough to keep using and then putting back into the bag for reuse.

RLB's practice buttercream is indestructible! I think I had it in the 'fridge for months and I practiced

with it. Keep at it, build up your confidence, and you won't want to use anything but

a pastry bag! It will become second nature to you.

It did for me! :biggrin:

www.onetoughcookienyc.com

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fooey, what exactly is it that you don't like about pastry bags?

I don't like the lack of precision. I wanted my macaroons to similar in size/weight, but can never make this happen with a pastry bag. Even if the amounts I deposit look nearly identical, the end product always has too much variation.

I've taken to piping onto a scale, and that seems to work, but it's much more involved.

I guess I don't like the lack of precision.

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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If I'm reading this right, it sounds like I just haven't had enough practice. That could certainly be a contributing factor, but after several hundred macaroons, there certainly is a related frustration.

Maybe I just have a cheap pastry bag/tip. I don't think I paid very much at all for what I use.

I'll do some research to see what I can find on modern pastry bags.

Fooey's Flickr Food Fotography

Brünnhilde, so help me, if you don't get out of the oven and empty the dishwasher, you won't be allowed anywhere near the table when we're flambeéing the Cherries Jubilee.

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  • 1 month later...

As someone who hates getting their fingers sticky (yet loves making bread and cake), I have to agree about disliking piping bags. Messy, sticky, unwieldy (for me)! I have much more success piping macarons from an icing piping gun. Mine has an 8mm mouth (ie, without nozzles attached) which is perfect for piping macaron batter.

-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

Syrup & Tang - candid commentary and flavourful fancies

"It's healthy. It's cake. It's chocolate cake."

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As someone who hates getting their fingers sticky (yet loves making bread and cake), I have to agree about disliking piping bags. Messy, sticky, unwieldy (for me)! I have much more success piping macarons from an icing piping gun. Mine has an 8mm mouth (ie, without nozzles attached) which is perfect for piping macaron batter.

A piping bag idea for you if you ever want to master the piping bag is to only fill it half full for one thing. So if you want to not have to refill it constantly, start with a 14 or 16 inch one. Then you'll have plenty to twist up and hold in your hand (between thumb and side of the palm of your hand) so it does not get messy. In between fillings if necessary, you scrape down the top of the inside of the bag with a long spatula. Either set the opened bag on the counter or against your aproned leg if you're standing and hold the edge of an icing spatula against the inside of the bag and roll the bag around to clean the upper part. Then fill and viola.

It's a wonderful tool you just need to learn how to use it. But truly some folks do better with the guns and if you only use it momentarily, then the gun will be good. A gun like that will kill your arm though eventually if used a lot.

Large production kitchens use pastry bags or they are mechanized.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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That's a great idea, Duncan! Also: your macarons look absolutely perfect, so I can't argue with your method :smile:

THanks so much Mark:) They're tasty too. LOL. I can well imagine, as K8memphis says, that a piping gun would be hard work for large volumes... I should devote myself to my bag technique for a while.

-- lamington a.k.a. Duncan Markham

The Gastronomer's Bookshelf - collaborative book reviews about all things food and wine

Syrup & Tang - candid commentary and flavourful fancies

"It's healthy. It's cake. It's chocolate cake."

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