Working with Buttercream: Learn to Pipe Borders | Amy Kimmel | Skillshare

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Working with Buttercream: Learn to Pipe Borders

teacher avatar Amy Kimmel, Baking and Pastry Arts Instructor

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Assembling Your Tools


    • 3.

      Prepare Your Piping Bag


    • 4.

      Beginner Borders


    • 5.

      Intermediate Borders


    • 6.

      Advanced Borders


    • 7.

      Final Project


    • 8.

      Thank You!


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About This Class

Have you looked through cake photos and wondered how people accomplish those decorative borders?  Join me in this beginner level class that will help you build your buttercream skills!

In this class we will look at the techniques needed to create borders from simple to advanced.  We will go over:

  •   Tools necessary to prepare a piping bag.
  •   Techniques to add color to your work.
  •   Different styles of buttercream borders.
  •   How to decorate a cake.

I will also add in tips and tricks that I have picked up while learning and teaching students, just like you, over the years.  This class will give you the confidence you need to build on your skills as a cake artist!

If you would like to learn more about decorating cakes, click the link below! 

Amy's Skillshare Classes

Meet Your Teacher

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Amy Kimmel

Baking and Pastry Arts Instructor


I’m Amy. I’m originally from Pennsylvania and grew up on stick-to-your-ribs desserts. Think pecan sticky buns and fresh made fruit pies…straight from my grandma’s house!

I always loved to bake and when I was 18, I started my first pastry job at a ski resort decorating cakes, baking cookies, and running registers. I spent a lot of years moving around the country and trying out different ways of following my passion. Everything from large volume pastry baking to having my own little tent at a farmer’s market in Kalispell, Montana. I loved every minute of it and collected so many amazing memories.

Fast forward 10 years and I started teaching baking online. I really had no idea what I was doing, but I spent 6 solid months lea... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hey there. Take enthusiasts at me. Kimmel. I'm a cake artist at instructor. In this class, I'm gonna teach you how the pipe borders onto a cake. Borders are pipe decoration that could be used as a finishing touch or as the main focus of design on a desert. I'm going to explain what tools and techniques such as pressure and angle. You need to create designs from basic to more advanced. Once you get the hang of piping, the examples in class, you will be prepared to create your own buttercream borders. The project I will walk you through is going to be a cake where the borders of the focus of the design, however you are welcome to make any treat you prefer. If you like pies, then go ahead and use a pylea project. This class is a great introduction and building block toe learning the art of cake degree. I look forward to seeing you in class 2. Assembling Your Tools: In order to hide beautiful borders, you have to know what equipment you need and how to use it. There are a lot of cake decorating tools in the market, and I can feel really overwhelming sometimes. But I don't want that to stop you from getting started. So I'm gonna teach you exactly what you need to buy Teoh. Create a piping bag, and if you choose to invest more your projects, I'll go over some extra products that you might be interested in purchasing. But don't feel like you have to go out and get all of it. Let's get started. Let's go over what you need. Here we have a disposable piping bag. They're called disposable because you can throw them away once you're done using them, they could be purchased in small amounts, such as 12 in a box. Or you can get a large role like on amazon dot com. The nice thing about these is you can see what color is in the bag. If you choose to save leftovers, or if you just sit the bags down, you still know what color you have in each bag. You don't have to clean them you just chuck them when you're done, but you do want to make sure that you remove the coupler before you throw it away. We also have featherweight bags. It's just another type of piping bag. The difference is these air reusable. They're also very, very sturdy and just a four warning. They do get stained over time, but the color that it gets stained with is not gonna bleed into any butter cream that you put in there in the future. The really fantastic thing about featherweight bags is that they last forever. I think mine are hand me downs from my mom, which was from maybe 12 years ago. They come in multiple sizes and the great for things beyond buttercream. If you wanna piped mashed potatoes or something, you can use featherweight bags as far as taking care of a featherweight bag. You just wash it with dish soap and water and rinse it and let them air dry and they're good to go. We also have couplers. Couplers are the pieces that you put inside the piping bags that make it possible for you to interchange your tips. So if you are piping two different things with the same color. You would want to use a coupler, whereas if you just put the tip directly in the bag, then that would be the only tip that you could use with that bag and that color. We have two options here. One is an old school Wilton coupler system, and it's been around forever, and it's what I've always used up until recently, Wilton has come out with this new coupler system, and it's easier to use. And it also has a nice cap for preserving whatever you have left over. We're don't have a little bit about tips in each lesson. So here I'm just going to tell you which sizes you need for this class. We're gonna use Wilton Tips now. There's other brands of tips on the market, however, keep in mind that each brand uses its own sizes. So a Wilton tip to it's going to be a different size than an than a P m E tip, too, or 2.5. So in this class, I'm only gonna use well in tips to avoid confusion for the class, you're gonna need a Wilton tip. 21 Tip 18 Tip 3 52 Tip 104 And our Tip 12 which is optional. But I'm gonna show you how to use that one. Anyways, we're going to go over to different color techniques, so it's a good idea toe. Have some food coloring here. I have the Wilton color right, and I just have a pink. Now. If you want to use the Wilton gel colors, you will also need toothpicks. So that's why I have them shown here. You're going to need a small artist brush. We're going to use this for a striping technique. I have an offset spatula, and this isn't necessary, but it's really convenient for scraping off your practice sheet in between practising different techniques. You will also need spoons and bowls for mixing colors. Or, if you choose to follow along with the project at the end, you will only need one spoon and one bowl. You will need scissors to cut your piping bag. Rubber bands thes air optional, but when you're first starting out, I really recommend them to secure the end of your piping bag. It really makes it convenient. You also need a practice surface. I just have a piece of parchment paper taped to my table top that works great. You can also use wax paper. You also need a batch of buttercream. And last but not least, I have a turntable. If you want to dio the project at the end of the class, you'll need a turntable. But it's also nice toe have for any type of treat that you'll be decorating and you'll see why later. 3. Prepare Your Piping Bag: here we have our disposable piping bag and the newer Wilton Coupler system. It's made up of four pieces. This is the inner peace. The outer piece. This piece secures the tip, and this is a great cap to store the buttercream and prevent air from getting in. You also need scissors. What we're gonna do is we're gonna take the inner peace, and we're gonna drop it into our sleeping bag and push it all the way down to the bottom. Make sure it's pushed in their snug, and then you're gonna take your scissors and I want you to mark right at the top of the tip with your scissors. Just give it a nice mark, and then you push back. You can see where we have the scissor mark, and that's where you will cut. Yeah. Okay. So that may push this up toothy talk, and you could see that it comes to the edge of the back. We take our second piece, and this screws right over top. And this is great because it will secure the end of our piping bag so that no buttercream will escape. Fantastic. Then you want to take a tip I have my tip 12. Just to show you, this fits right onto the end like so you hold it with your fingers in place, and then you take this handy, dandy part, and that goes right on, and you will see that it fits into the grooves you pushed down and you clamp it on. Wow, There we go. A really simple system to attach your tip and then the other cap. When you go, take your tip off to clean it. You can put the cap on perfect for storage. If you have the older coupler system. This one, it's the same concept. This is the inner peace. This is the outer piece. You can see my featherweight bags already cut. This is an older bag, but it's the same concept. You would drop this into the bag, push it up. The only difference is, is when you mark your bag, you push it up to the first threads. You could see the threads on the coupler there. That's where you want Teoh Mark with your scissors before you cut your featherweight bag and your tip goes right on the top like this, and that screws down over What's nice with the new couple of system as opposed to this old one, is that with these, sometimes the buttercream can come out around the edge of the coupler. Now we have our piping bags prepared. Let's talk a little bit about color techniques. We're gonna go over striking and also do alot color piping. So here we have our buttercream and I'm gonna start out with just white. Before we color this buttercream. We're gonna put some white in our bag so that you can use was left over and color. That's or not putting an extra equipment. Gonna take our featherweight bag if you're prepared. One of these. If not, that's OK. If you have the disposable bag to use whatever you have, I'm going to show you what I've already prepared. So here we have our father wait bag and I'm gonna show you the striping technique in this. This is really simple, and we're gonna use the Wilton gel color. This is gonna be the easiest to use and to prevent the buttercream from making a huge mess . This is how I prepare my bag. I always stick my thumbs on the inside in the top wrap my fingers on the outside like this , and then I fold on what this full does is it keeps the buttercream from this point down in the bag. Whereas if you took it and just filled it like that, you would have buttercream coming out of the top when you squeeze it. It would just be a huge mass. We don't want that. So we have this and then I just put my hand up in underneath this cup, and that's really handy. And this is my left hand and I'm right handed. So I put this on my left hand so that I can use my right hand to do the coloring technique . And it's just easier to dio if you're left handed, you would do without visit way. So I'm going to take my pink color and my artist's brush here, and I'm gonna dip a little bit in. Just get a little bit on my brush, and then I'm just gonna go right into my piping bag. I am a draw a straight up the side on the inside of my piping bag, and at this point I'll take some of my plane buttercream and put it right into the fighting back. Don't squeeze all down at this point because you don't have a tip on. It's just kind of squeeze out everywhere. Roll that. That's our stripping technique. And from there you can take one of your tips. I have a tip 18 on a 21 because these are what we're gonna use in the next lesson. I'm just gonna fit this with the tip 18. Take my coupler, push it down a little bit, but not so much that it comes out. I mean, at this point, you can take your river, Beant and secure your ever band athletes. Drop the bag so your brother cream doesn't come out the other side. Now I'm gonna show you the duo color technique with the other bag that goes back that I prepared earlier with the new Wilton coupler system. So from this we're going, Teoh are back this way. And before you color the buttercream, if you're going to use white and then another color, put your white in the bag first, using my spoon, and I try to keep it off to one side so that I could get another color in the end like that . Step back to the side, and then I can take my color. And if you're using the job color again, you use two toothpicks. I'm gonna use the color right pink here. This is really simple. Just a couple drops what's left of my butter creams going, Teoh Mix back up and I got this really vibrant pink color. Then I'll put the thing buttercream in the bag, being careful not to disturb the white buttercream. Once that's done, you just want to push the buttercream down to the end of your bag and use the rubber band to secure the back of the bag. At that point, you can put on your tip and secure it. There you have it, duo color piping back. 4. Beginner Borders: when piping borders, bag angle and the pressure that you use are very important. The best way to get a feel for it is to squeeze the piping bag at different intensities and watch how the buttercream comes out. As you practice more, you will get the feeling for the nuances of each technique and eventually it will be very natural to you. You will hear me say practice a lot because that is the number one skill that you must learn to be a cake artist. As we move through these next lessons, I'm going to show you the border. Using my right hand, I will also show you the left handed variation which most likely will not be as nice looking as the right handed variation because I am not ambidextrous. So just a heads up there, the first border we're going to go over in this lesson is the zig zag border. For this, we will be using the star tip number 21. We're going to start holding our bag at a 45 degree angle to our surface. This is going to be a left to right flow with an up and down motion. If you're piping right handed. You want to start with your tip slightly above the surface and apply medium pressure and follow the direction shown in a video. If you are doing this left handed, you would be moving from right to left, also with an up and down motion. You can also do this technique using a tip number 12 and that's around tip, which will give you a different look while you're practicing in between piping each border , you can take your spatula and scrape off the surface and then into your bowl. For the next technique, we will be learning the star. We were going to use a star tip number 18 for this. Your piping bag will be at a 90 degree angle. The chip will be slightly above the surface. You want to start applying medium pressure to your bag, stop pressure and then pull away. This technique will be the same whether you're right or left handed. Next up is the leaf border for the leaf border. You will be using a tip number 3 52 and for right handed we're going to be working from left to right. You're going, Teoh, hold your bag at a 45 degree angle to your surface, with the sharp points one directly above the other. The bottom point will be touching the surface. You will start to applied pressure. Move your piping bag a little bit to the right. Then stop pressure and pull away. Start your next leaf underneath the edge of the previous leaf. For left handed Piper's you will be moving from right toe left. This is a good place to pause and practise the techniques a few times before moving on to the next lesson. 5. Intermediate Borders: the first set of borders you learned will give you the feel for handling the bag so that you are more comfortable moving into these next techniques. With these new borders, we're going to have to pay attention to consistency more and making sure each pipes component of the border is the same size. In this lesson, we will be starting out with the shell border. This is the most common border you will see on cakes. We're going to be using tip number 21 four right handed. You're going to be moving from a left to right direction. Your bag is going to be out of 45 degree angles. Your surface your tip will be slightly above the surface. You're going to start applying pressure, lifting your bag directly up and then moving it to the right. Stop pressure and pull away. Start your next show at the end of the previous shell four left handed. You will be moving from right to left. The reverse shell is a very pretty border and probably my favorite for this. We're going to be using a tip 21. We're going to be at a 45 degree angle and for right handed you'll be moving from left, right. You're going to start with the tip slightly above the surface. You're going to start applying pressure, lifting your tip up, letting it fall onto the surface and moving in a circular motion. You will come down and bring the tail around and start moving in the opposite direction. In a circular motion. Continue this motion to create a long string of reverse shells for your border. For left handed, you will go in the opposite direction. Let's talk about the rose at border. The rosette is probably the most widely used piping technique, not necessarily the most popular border, but we've seen rosette cakes everywhere, so this is a great opportunity to learn how that technique is done. We're going to use a tip number 21 for the rosette. Your bag is at a 90 degree angle. The tip is slightly above the surface. I'm with Rose that you really want to pay attention to starting at the same point, moving in the same direction. I'm getting them all the same size, so you start to apply pressure. Move up and around the left stop pressure pull away Then you start your next rosette about 1/4 inch to the right of your previous. Now, if you're left handed, you obviously will go in the opposite direction. And if you're making larger Rose ATS with a much larger start hip, then you would start further than 1/4 of an inch from your previous rosette. The important thing is to keep them side by side and not overlapping on top of one another . For the rope border, we will be using a chip number 18 which is a smaller sized star tip. For this, you will be at a 45 degree angle for right handed, you'll be moving from left to right. You start by piping and s shape. Once you have your first s shape piped on your surface, you start with your second overlapping in the curves of your previous s. Continue this piping pattern and you will create what looks like a rope for left handed. You will move from right to left. You can also use a tip number 12 to get a different look. As always, this is a good point to stop and practice 6. Advanced Borders: In this lesson, you will learn to advanced techniques that combine what you have already learned. The ruffle border is very nice on its own, or you can use them overlapping one another to create a really pretty effect all over a cake or another treat. For this, we will be using Tip 104 Your bag will be at a 45 degree angle. I noticed that on a tip 104 There is a wide and anythin end. The wide end will be facing away from you and touching the surface, whereas the thin and will be facing towards you and slightly above the surface for right handed. You're moving from left to right. Start by applying pressure and moving your bag in a very slight back and forth motion from left to right. If you are left handed, you would go in the opposite direction. For our final border, we will be doing a double reverse shell. This can look very complicated, but it's just adding onto borders We have already previously discussed, so we will be using a tip Number 21. You will be working at a 45 degree angle for right handed. You're moving from left to right. Start by piping a small C shape, then overlapping the tail end of that C shape. Pipe another C shape with a longer tail the same size, Then just do it the opposite way. If you're left handed, you're moving in the opposite direction from right to left. 7. Final Project: Now that you understand how to pipe the borders that we want over in class, it's time to create for this last thing. I'm gonna teach you how to pipe on actual cake. It's a little bit more challenging because you're piping here instead of here. Now you're welcome to pipe off anything such as a cookie or brownie. But I really encourage you to try on a cake so you can practice your skills. If you're not sure how to build a frosted cake, you can check out my other seal share class, working with buttercream simple and studying special techniques. Let's get started. I'm gonna show you how to do an ombre effect with the borders that we learned on our cake. These are the same tools that we've already had. We have a piping bag, all of our tips. I have a dark pink buttercream that I've already mixed, and then I have another bowl of just plain buttercream, and I'm gonna show you how to use just these tools to create a really pretty look with a bunch different colors, something that probably would look really complicated and that he would take a lot of equipment but it really doesn't. It's simple. So here we have our piping bag and this is fitted with the chip one of four. This is for the ruffle border, which I want to start out on the bottom. So there's just a nice ruffle at the bottom on this cake is just cake plate and then on a turntable, and we have the dark pink buttercream in the bag. Now, the best thing to do is find what's going to be the back side of your cake. So I'm gonna go with this because there's a little crease right there. And that's what you want to start. Because where your border stops and starts, there's gonna be a little bit of a variation. So you want that to be the back where people aren't going to be looking at that. So we're gonna start with our ruffle, and whichever hand you're breaking, you're gonna play with that, and then you're gonna rotate the turntable with your other hand. So I'm gonna start here at my face, and I'm gonna pipe my ruffle around the bottom edge, as in turn, we're gonna be putting nine different borders on this cake. So you don't want to keep in mind evenly spacing and not too concerned about it. Just saying on the sides you can put them on the top this well, but you want them to be kind of evenly spaced. So, you know, don't put another one halfway up because you're not gonna be able to fit them all in the cake. There have my ruffle. And I stopped right there. Now that we have the bottom pipes were going toe actually empty out our every bag into galloping full. We're gonna use whatever's left over from that. We're gonna take a little bit of our white. It's how about working? And you got a lighter color. So once you have the new pink in there, you want Teoh squeeze out lower was left in the nozzle in the upper part of the bag. And then I'm going to switch our tips over from the 104 And I'm gonna go to the leaf tip 3 52 And where the back of the cake sto. I'm gonna go about 1/2 of an inch up from the previous border and the minister depriving my leaves once you're finished piping the leave border. Make sure that you empty out your bag back into your pink bull and at a little bit more white and mix it up. Now we have our bag fitted with our tip 21 can. I'm starting happy back of my cake and for this happening about 1/2 inch up and I'm gonna do the double rivers, even mind. Wanna try even of a space between your orders? You're feeling your bag. You want to make sure you're really getting your hand up under there, Try to keep the mess half a minute and your brother cream. It's just ever so gradually getting wider Every time interview empty out, Pink started your back now going to do the reversed shell border. It was a little bulge in my kink, but that's easy to just cover up. Now we have our reverse shell. I'm going to do a shell border and I'm instead right off the top edge here. We're gonna go to the top and it worked out perfectly because I like show quarters Top order cake, You hear? We're still using tip 21 again. Do not forget Teoh. Change the color between each border at a little bit of white to the pink. Clean out the bag, ready to go. We're gonna do the rosette after the roseate working and do the zigzag using the same tip 21 with a little bit lighter pink buttercream This exact a little bit tricky. So you want a pipe with your piping hand and then rotate the turntable with your other hand as your piping for the last two borders, we're going to switch over to tip 18 in the middle, small spaces left, go ahead and pipe a road border and stars directly in the middle. Now the cake is finished. You can see it has this beautiful dark toe light pink quality. 8. Thank You!: that wraps up this class. As you can see, borders can use a finishing touch or as the main focus of the design. You also have the knowledge to go ahead and create your own awesome trees at home. If you have any questions, I would love to answer them in the community section. And if you're ready to go shopping, go ahead to the Project page and print off a supplies list. I encourage you to return to the class and share your project with all of us. I can't wait to see what designs you come up with. Thanks so much for taking this class.