Pastry chefs discovered that squeeze bottles were easier to use than pastry bags long before home cooks did. Now, anyone who bakes and decorates frequently likely has a squeeze bottle or two in the cabinet. Cooking accessory companies have finally caught on to the trend and are manufacturing specialised icing tips for squeeze bottles to give bakers the same decorating capabilities they have with pastry bags.
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Several manufacturers make squeeze bottles with couplers that enable you to attach standard icing tips in different sizes and designs. Put thick icing in short accordion bottles, and reserve the taller, straight-sided bottles for thinner icings and glazes. For years, professional pastry chefs have used generic squeeze bottles without icing tips to make simple dots and lines on cakes and other desserts and to glaze small items such as cupcakes.
Many cooks find squeeze bottles easier to control than pastry bags when they are icing pastries. A full pastry bag requires two hands at all times -- one to guide the icing tip and the other to squeeze the bag -- while a squeeze bottle is lighter and can usually be controlled with only one hand. It's difficult to set a pastry bag filled with icing aside without making a mess; a squeeze bottle's flat bottom means you can take a break anytime without worrying about an icing leak. Squeeze bottles with icing tips are also easier to clean than pastry bags.
Icing tips for squeeze bottles allow you to make stars, rosettes, piping and any other decorations that you would normally make with a pastry bag. If you have multiple squeeze bottles, you can put a different colour of icing in each one and simply switch the icing tip from one bottle to another to place a different colour on your dessert. You can also use squeeze bottles to "flood" icing onto cookies. Outline the edge of the cookie with a small icing tip, then use another squeeze bottle and icing tip to flood a contrasting colour of icing into the centre of the outline.
Filling the Bottles
To get the icing into a squeeze bottle, roll a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper into a cone, insert the cone into the top of the squeeze bottle and slowly pour the icing through the cone. You can also pour the icing into a plastic storage bag, cut off a corner and slowly squeeze the icing into the bottle.
Pour as much icing out of the squeeze bottle as you can. Fill the bottle with warm water and shake it up; let it soak for about half an hour. If your squeeze bottle is dishwasher-safe, place it over a tine in the top rack and wash it with the rest of your dishes. If it's not dishwasher-safe, fill the bottle with warm, soapy water, shake it again and pour out the water. If icing remains in the bottle, twist a paper towel around a butter knife and run it around the inside of the squeeze bottle. Repeat with clean paper towels until the bottle is clean, and rinse with hot water. Place the icing tips in a bowl of hot, soapy water; scrub the icing away with a toothbrush and rinse with hot water.
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