Christopher Kimball: My wife and I were in Paris recently and decided to buy some cookware, so we stopped by the venerable cookware store Dehillerin, and in my very poor high school French, got through a few things. But we got to pastry bags [waves hands for emphasis], it was so confusing. I couldn’t understand a word this guy was saying. There were different sizes, different materials, different couplers, different tips. I left Paris without a pastry bag, rushed back here to the Test Kitchen, and asked Adam to do a testing. This time in English so I could understand which one to buy. [Turns toward Adam Ried] So which should I buy?
AR: I think for me to become really proficient in the pastry arts [grins], I should probably spend a little time in Paris.
AR: Maybe you can arrange that for me. [Winks]
CPK: Online, maybe. [AR chuckles]
AR: [Camera pans to five pastry bags on counter] We gathered five different types of pastry bags here. [Inset footage of pastry bag being used to pipe rosettes of buttercream frosting] Now, we did a couple of different tests with these. We did a heavy buttercream frosting, and we piped rosettes with that. We also did an egg foam to pipe meringues. We did a bunch of pretesting, because these bags come in different sizes—up to 24 inches—and our testers preferred 18 inches. [Picks up second pastry bag from the counter] It was big enough to twist at the top, it was maneuverable, and it was just the right size for everybody who tried them. So we limited our testing to 18-inch bags.
CPK: So the bigger ones [motions with hands to indicate large size] would be for a professional pastry chef?
AR: Someone who’s really, really good [smiles]; who’s spent a little time in Paris studying it—hint, hint! [playfully motions with elbow toward CPK]
CPK: [Smiles] Forget it! Ain’t going to happen! [AR laughs]
AR: So we then went onto materials. A lot of these come in different materials. The old guard [picks up canvas pastry bag from counter] pastry bags are this one.
CPK: That’s what I have, yeah.
AR: This is plain canvas. It’s heavy. It works well. [Camera cuts to bag in his hand] It’s got a nice feel. It’s pliable. It’s maneuverable. [Places his hand inside the pastry bag] The problem with this is it can stain over time if you’re using a colored filling. It also takes forever to dry when you wash it. You have to hang it upside down and basically dry it overnight, so it’s not our favorite choice anymore. We looked at a white nylon one, also. It was a little bit too light. It felt sort of jerky and not totally maneuverable to us. It was just not the right choice for most of our testers. We tried this [picks up bag from counter], which is a plastic-coated cotton felt. This was a step up. It was a little better. It cleans up easily because it’s plastic coated, but still it was a little bit light [hands pastry bag to CPK] for most of our testers. They wanted more heft; more control [CPK places pastry bag back onto counter]. You can also buy just plastic ones. [Camera cuts to box containing a roll of disposable pastry bags] This is a roll of 100 plastic disposable pastry bags. [Tears off a single disposable plastic pastry bag] It’s about $18. You tear it off, you can cut the tip off to fit whatever sized piping tip you want [CPK nods] to and just let ‘er go, and then there’s no cleaning at all. You just chuck it.
CPK: [Cautiously] Well, that sounds like a good idea…
AR: A little wasteful, not terribly environmentally conscious.
CPK: [Smiling] Now, I knew that you were going to say that.
AR: [Puts down disposable plastic pastry bag] We didn’t like that, Chris. What we ended up with [picks up second pastry bag from counter] was a new plastic-coated [shows off inside of the pastry bag], lighter weight canvas bag. This is the Ateco 18-inch Plastic Coated Canvas Pastry Bag. It’s about $4.00 and change—$4.50 almost. It’s very maneuverable. The inside has a plastic coating, so it cleans up easily and dries quickly and it’s the new test kitchen standard. It works really well. [Hands pastry bag to CPK]
CPK: So the Ateco at $4.45—a modest price—is the winner, and it would have saved me, oh, about $800 in plane fare [chuckles] to Paris if you’d done this testing a year ago.
View the full report of our Pastry Bags testing.
Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH
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