Trained pastry chefs are taught elaborate techniques for fashioning pastry bags out of folded paper. I admire that, but I also have things to do and places to go. So when I need to do a little piping, say of jam into a doughnut, I go the pre-fab route. The basic components, tips and couplers, can be had at many specialty shops. As for the bags, not being a decorating professional, I vastly prefer the cheapie pre-made plastic versions over the real fabric bags. You can also use Ziploc bags if you want, though I’ll warn you now that those things tend to pop open at inopportune moments.
Experienced pastry people out there will probably say the process of putting together a pastry bag is obvious. That may be true, but obviousness didn’t prevent me from spending a bewildering hour fiddling with the pieces the first time I tried it. So for those who might be a little intimidated, I offer this short tutorial. Start with a tip of your choice, here a monster #230 for filling doughnuts, plus a two-part coupler and a bag.
Hey wait! That bag doesn’t have a hole in it! See what I mean? The process isn’t intuitive at all! You have to snip the end off with scissors. How much depends on the size of the coupler. You may need to experiment a little, but the idea is you want a snug fit for the coupler. Trim off about three quarters of an inch:
Then insert the coupler into the bag and push it toward the hole you made. You don’t want it to protrude out of the hole, since the idea is to pinch the bag between the base and the collar. Push it in tightly. Ideally, you’ll stretch the plastic a bit so it’s tight over the coupler’s threads.
Once the base is in place, put the tip on…
…then the collar, and just screw it down.
You’re done! Wasn’t that obvious? No, in fact it really wasn’t.