There’s something happening in the Buttercream Piping Underworld lately. It’s making every cake decorator who does buttercream flowers gaga looking for a seller who could deliver to them seven piping tips. Just like Indiana Jones searching for the “ark of the covenant”, these decorators have been scouring the internet on where to reliably look for a seller and how to get these jewels at the least expensive price (shipping included).
They’re the Russian Tulip Tips because, apparently, they came from Moscow. What makes them special? Basically, the tips are supposed to make your life easier when piping flowers – no more twisting of piping tips at certain angles, no more using of those piping nails, no more funny strokes. Just one squeeze and pull, and there you have it – tulips and roses made from buttercream. A decorator’s heaven.
I was one of those decorators. But hey, I have my well-guarded “mafia” resources, *ehem*. So in just about a week, with the help of my baking comrades, I was able to receive mine and I wasted no time im trying them out and see what the hoopla is about. (Just kidding about the mafia… I got them thru a cake buddy friend, Sheila Madara Ubales who owns Merry Poppins Cakes by Sheila who in turn gets them from her sister who owns Luckymao Baking Secrets. So there! My secret is out.)
I’ve watched the videos, I’ve seen demos of the tips so many times. But it’s still different when you’re holding the piping bag on one hand and a cupcake on the other. And I conclude, just like any other piping nozzle, there’s still some tricks you have to learn. And I want to make your life a little easier by telling you how I do mine. Just a little caveat, I’m no expert, (altho I’ve taught cake decorating so many times) but I can still teach you some of the tricks I’ve discovered.
First off, they’re not your ordinary-sized tips. They’re big – 1 3/4” tall, 1” in diameter in the nozzle tip and 1 1/2” in diameter at the opening. So plan your piping bags ahead. A 12” piping bag might work but probably not an 8”. You won’t have too much space for the buttercream after you’ve put your nozzle in, but that also depends on how much cream you’ll be using with the nozzle, or if you don’t mind stuffing your bag often with buttercream. I used a 14” heavy-weight vinyl piping bag . The vinyl part has a reason.
Why does it matter? Because the tips are very intricate – there’s a lot of details on them that soft buttercream won’t be able to follow the intricacies of the nozzle. For me, I have really warm (and very warm) hands. Using my favorite disposable piping bags from the Philippines did not work because they absorbed the heat from my hands so easily. It was getting frustrating because all that came out from the tip were blobs of soft icing. I was cursing the baking gods too often, I woke up a sleeping giant… nay, sleeping husband. I’ve also tried the Wilton disposable piping bags and they still don’t work well. In the end, only those vinyl ones worked for me. (If you don’t have those, you can use a damp and cold paper towel on your hands while you pipe.)
Coupled with a thick piping bag, is the quite often running/walking up to the fridge to put the whole piping bag inside it for a few minutes. Not too long that you’d have a hard time squeezing out the icing, but just enough stiffness that it holds its shape and makes your hand cooler. And that’s also one of the advantages of a heavy-weight bag – it doesn’t overdo the refrigeration of the icing, but lets it cool the icing down just right. After about 2 minutes or so of cleaning up the kitchen while waiting, you can now take your piping bag out of the fridge and pipe again.
For buttercream, I used SMBC (the acronym for the most popular but sometimes intimidating Swiss Meringue Buttercream) because of it’s smoothness and stability. Plus, the taste is just soooo divine. You can also use Italian Meringue Buttercream or American buttercream. As long as the buttercream is stable and can hold its shape.
While piping, you want to make sure that your tip is on a 90-degree angle with your cake/cupcake. Make sure that the buttercream sticks to the cake’s surface by squeezing the piping bag a bit till the cream comes out. Otherwise, some of the petals or the stamens might not stick to the cake as you will notice with some of my cupcakes. Once your icing has come in contact with your cake, put a bit of pressure on your piping bag while you slowly pull the bag away upward. When you start pulling the bag release the pressure on the bag. For those of you who have done piping before, you probably know the timing of when to put the pressure on and when to release the hold. Same banana. For the beginners, you might want to practice first on a saucer to get the feel of it. You will get it. Just don’t give up.
So my verdict? The nozzles are divine! And the flowers looked so pretty and dainty. I served the decorated cupcakes on two separate occasions using the nozzles and people had complemented me on how they looked. And I turned out to be a cake diva for icing cupcakes with great detail. I must’ve slaved myself in my kitchen. Let them think that way…
I had a little problem with one of the rose tips, tho, but that’s just me. I couldn’t make it work. But I will do it again I plan to conquer that tip! For those rose-like tips you can cut short the time you put pressure on your bag and come up with roses, or you can go ahead and sustain the pulling away and come up with closed tulip buds (will have to do that next time).
As a reference, if you haven’t seen them elsewhere or you have them but have not seen all of the tips’ results, I have them here below. And, if you want to order your own Russian piping tips, visit Luckymao Baking Secrets FB Page. They’re superb and really fast. They’re very reliable and I’ve never had any problems with them for all the other cake decorating supplies I’ve gotten from them. Try them out…