If you've got serious #cakegoals, it's time to make friends with piping gel. What is piping gel? Most people know it as thickened corn syrup. In fact, it's exactly the same thing. And it's one of the best things to ever happen to a cake.
Now that you know what piping gel is, you can find it more easily at craft or cake-decorating stores. Or better yet, make it at home in minutes. You probably already have the ingredients in your pantry.
How to Make Piping Gel
Yields ½ cup
- ¼ cup cold water
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ½ cup light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon clear flavor extract (optional)
- Gel food coloring (optional)
1. Combine the Water and Cornstarch
In a heat-proof container, combine the cold water and cornstarch. Whisk until the lumps in the cornstarch are gone. Now whisk in the corn syrup until it's combined.
2. Heat and Cool the Mixture
Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on high, stopping every minute or so to stir. The mixture will bubble up and boil, then start thickening until it has the same consistency as hair gel. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before you add any flavoring or color.
3. Adjust the Consistency
If the piping gel gets too thick, add water in tiny amounts until you get the consistency you want.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to three months.
How to Use Piping Gel
1. Make Edible Glue
As you'll notice right away, piping gel is extremely sticky — so it works perfectly as an edible glue. Bonus: Piping gel takes a long time to dry, so you have more flexibility if you want to reposition any decorating elements before it sets.
Another reason to use piping gel as glue: It's clear, unlike royal icing or chocolate, so it's more discreet. You can also easily tint it to match the color of the items you want to stick together.
If you're working with wafer paper , you'll definitely want to have piping gel on hand. Use the gel to glue your flower petals together; to stick cut paper elements onto a fondant-covered cake; or to create a wafer paper-flower arrangement.
2. Keep Buttercream from Crusting
Adding a small amount of piping gel to buttercream that's about to crust will help make the frosting smoother — and will keep it from crusting as much or as quickly as it would otherwise. This trick is especially handy when you're piping intricate patterns or buttercream flowers.
3. Add It to Fondant for an Extra Shine
Piping gel gives your fondant-covered cakes or decorations an added shimmer. You can use it as is, or thin it down with a little vodka before brushing it on. Thinning the gel with alcohol first helps give your work a more even shine, and makes brush strokes less visible. In the photo above, a bit of piping gel brushed onto a stained-glass cake gives it that sleek, mirrored sheen.
Piping gel works perfectly on fruit tarts, too: Flavor some piping gel with clear vanilla extract or lemon juice, and brush it onto the cut fruit. The gel not only makes the fruit look all shiny and perfect; it also helps preserve it so your tart stays fresher longer.
4. Pipe It On as a Cake Decoration
You can tint the gel and use it to pipe lines, dots or messages onto a cake design. It's also an excellent medium for adding "water" to a pool or beach cake.
5. Mix It In as a Stabilizer for Whipped Cream
To stabilize your whipped cream, here's what you do: After you've whipped heavy cream and sugar to soft peaks, add two tablespoons of piping gel for every four cups of heavy cream you're using. The cornstarch in the piping gel will help keep the room-temperature whipped cream stable for longer.
The bottom line is, there's pretty much no end to what you can do with piping gel — so experiment away!