Let's get real. When you pay someone to make your cookies or your cakes, you are not paying them for their delicious ingredients or their talent or their time. You are paying her to clean up that mess that your cookies made in her kitchen. The more she makes, the more the mess multiplies (okay, so I am a fan of alliteration. I can't help myself.)
Having been fired by more than one cleaning lady, I am the first to acknowledge that baking can facilitate a huge, powdery, sticky, greasy mess in your kitchen. Depending on how attentive you are to cleaning up as you go, the ultimate messiness can make a baker want to abandon this hobby altogether.
Over my years of baking, I have discovered a few things that make clean up easier. Of course, the first thing we think of to make clean up easy is using disposable products, specifically disposable frosting bags. Those are great, if you can afford them. They would be very expensive for me to use because I go through so many on a daily basis. I always caution people to NOT confuse the Wilton clear disposable frosting bags with Ziploc bags. The Wilton bags are much thicker and have a seam that is designed to stand up to pressure, unlike it's first cousin, the Ziploc bag. If you try to use flood frosting with a Ziploc bag and you put enough pressure on it to squeeze toothpaste through a pencil point sized, hole, you are going to break the seam, get frosting all over your tray, your cookies, you hand, and down the front of your table ( and you will probably say some ugly words). So, if you don't want to pay the high price for disposable frosting bags, you can use the re-usable kind if you know these easy clean up tips!
1. Use a bullet inside of each frosting bag. This is one of the tips you learn in class that is a total life changer. You can make a bullet out of cellophane. It is like putting a disposable bag inside a reusable bag in order to minimize mess. How to make a bullet to hold your frosting will be another blog post later this week.
2. When you empty your bullets from your frosting bags, drop the bags in a bucket of warm soapy water. Any frosting that happens to be touching the bags will dissolve and make clean up a breeze.
3. Drop all tips in a canister of warm soapy water by your sink. Most of your tips will have more frosting on them that the bags will. As soon as you are done with the tips, go ahead and drop them in. Don't wait for the frosting to get all dried up or it will take longer to dissolve. Do yourself (and your disposer) a favor and don't even put your tips in your sink. Those things are masters at sliding down your drain and picking a fight with your disposer that requires a plumber to separate them. Even though the plumber is completely competent to separate the two, they are both often rendered useless after that. Don't ask me how I know.
When you are ready to wash out the tips, shake the canister and keep emptying the dirty water until the water is clear. Then dry by standing them on a towel on the counter top.
4. If you are more of a fan of the dishwasher, Wilton makes this little contraption that holds 10 little tips. You snap them in and toss this little thing in the dishwasher. It is completely effective but I rarely have a night that I use less than ten tips so I go for the bin of warm soapy water.
5. Finally, when I am ready to wash out my bags, most of the sugar is dissolved and all I have to do is rinse them and stand them up on a dish towel to drain. The beautiful thing about flood frosting is that it is not greasy like buttercream. If I am using buttercream, I often have to put fresh soap and warm water in the bucket and agitate in order for them to become clean. Neither is difficult, but one is easier than the other.