You can try to pipe roses directly on cake, which is possible, but it’s a bit tricky. If you have never piped roses before, begin by using a piping nail, which looks like a very large thumbtack and allows you to pipe the rose on the flat, top surface. Either way, you follow the same directions; if you are piping on the cake, instead of twirling a piping nail around, you will find it much easier if your cake is on a decorating turntable and you will have to work your pastry bag at more angles to form the rose properly. I like to pipe roses with Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting. Put your rose piping skills into action with our Buttercream Roses Sheet Cake.
Adapted from The Birthday Cake Book: 75 Recipes for Candle-Worthy Creations (Harvard Common Press, 2008) by Dédé Wilson. Photos by Melissa Punch.
1. Use a dab of frosting to affix a small square of parchment to a #7 icing nail. Pipe a small ½-inch tall cone onto the paper using a #12 tip.
2. Using a #104 tip, hold the pastry bag so that the narrow end of the tip is facing up and just touching the cone. Begin to apply pressure on the pastry bag with one hand and twirl the nail slowly with the other at the same time; you are piping the first inner petal and it should completely encapsulate the top of the cone.
3. Make the next petal by turning the nail and piping an arched petal that goes about halfway around the inner petal. The following petal is the same and there will now be two petals encapsulating the first inner petal. You now have a small rosebud, which, if you like, can be left as is.
4. Subsequent petals will be larger. The next layer consists of 3 petals spaced evenly around the rosebud. You can add more petals, if desired, for a larger rose. When the rose is finished, remove parchment square and refrigerate until rose is firm, at least 1 hour, at which point it is easy to transfer them to the cake using a small offset spatula.