Watch some YouTube videos and practise, practise, practise. That seems to be the answer. So after watching the videos I decided to do just that. First, I printed out some templates to use as guidance for my practise session, both script and non, letters and numbers. I just chose a couple of fonts I liked on Word and made the font big enough to fill an A4 sheet and then printed these out.
I made a small quantity of buttercream to the right consistency. This is one of the most important parts, getting the consistency right. When writing you use a piping tip that is very small (either a 2 or 3) so making sure you can squeeze the icing through these small apertures is crucial to getting a good result. The icing was more a dropping consistency, less thick than I would use to ice a cake. I used both a 2 and a 3 tip and filled two piping bags with the icing, covered my templates with greaseproof paper and I was ready to start.
One of the things I learned from the videos I watched was not to touch the surface with the tip, you hover above. This way you have more control. All of the videos were by right handed people so being a leftie I had to find my own way, but it didn’t seem to make much difference. I used the templates first, scrapping off the icing after each attempt and going again.
Then I tried some freehand writing, both joined up and stand alone letters. I found that after the couple of hours practise that I was really getting the hang of it. Of course, this wasn’t on a cake but it gave me the confidence to have a go the next time I am doing a cake that needs lettering. I would practise on a surface other than the cake first and then have a go. The practise really helped increase my confidence in my piping skills so I will repeat the exercise with other tips in the near future and see what designs I can achieve with those to use on future cakes.