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Royal Icing: Tips & Techniques


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Thanks everybody for all of the ideas. I'm going to do some trials with the various suggestions (doing something much more simple for now but similar in size). I didn't try parchment, I just assumed it wouldn't be transparent enough, but I will. So now I'm wondering if edible wafer paper or the edible paper used for printing pictures to put on cakes is transparent enough for tracing? I've never used them before so I don't know anything about them.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Maybe this is a job for SugarVeil icing?

It is. I'm not sure if you'll have time to mail order the icing mix from the States though, but if you do use it remember to remove it from the acetate while it's a little warm. I find large pieces using Sugarveil will get crackles on the surface no matter what you do with it though. Your plaque can absolutely be done in plain royal icing, however, and I'll explain that in a bit. I'm assuming it's a flooded piece and not just a bunch of disconnected lines. Just remember that a royal plaque will shatter into a million pieces when you try to cut your cake, so it'll need to be removed before serving.

You can spray a teensly bit of pan release on the surface and then wipe it evenly with a paper towel. There will be enough grease adhering to make it release well. I would use waxed paper though because it has a bit more flex.

Grease is the enemy of royal icing, and it'll keep the plaque from fully hardening and it'll crack or break for sure. I wouldn't use waxed paper either..... the icing sticks to the wax. Ditto for parchment.... the icing sticks to the paper. Clear acetate really is the way to go.

.... I succeeded in doing the artwork by putting a copy of the drawing under a sheet of clear acetate and slowly over the course of a couple days tracing it with royal icing. ......The only cure I can come up with is to make it thicker next time .... I plan to place it on a matching sized slab of royal icing to make it stronger

Assuming it's a flooded piece, start with a regular batch of royal icing (1 kg confectioner's sugar) that has been made with 6 Tbsp. of meringue powder and NO egg whites.

Same as you did, place the drawing under the acetate and tape it down to something large and inflexible, like a cutting board. Mix your royal rather moist; dry thick royal icing won't work. There's something about a high water content where the water is slowly evaporated from the piece that makes this work and makes for stronger icing. Thick icing doesn't work, I promise you. I think maybe because the sugar particles aren't wet enough they can't fully stick to one another, so when it dries out you end up with breakage.

Pipe out all of your outlining lines only, whether they'll be visible on the finished piece or not. The visible ones will be thicker of course, piped with maybe a #3 #4 or #5 tip. Any visible lines you'll need to be thicker than a #5 tip you'll need to pipe 2 lines side by side, then flood thinner royal icing across them later to make them look like a solid line. This'll make more sense in a bit.

The invisble lines, if any (those that will later be flooded over with thinner icing) should be piped with a #2 or #3 tip, but don't use anything smaller than #2. You might like to use a different coloured icing for the invisible lines.... it's easier to make sure the invisibles are all actually covered when you flood that way.

When you're happy with all your lines, use the # 2 tip to pipe a criss-cross patchwork of invisible lines all over any areas that will later be flooded, making sure there is no more than 1/2" x 1/2" of acetate still visible that will later be flooded. These thicker lines will give the finished piece the body it needs to withstand breakage. Think of them as structural lines.

Next, set the outline into the oven with the lightbulb ON and the heat OFF and the door CLOSED for at least 12 hours, to slowly dry out your outline. The heat from the lightbulb is enough to act as a dehydrator and works like a charm for royal icing pieces. Just make sure the door's closed.

When ready, flood a thinner royal icing (pre-burped) to fill in your piece, covering all the invisible lines, and make it thick/fat enough that you'll only need the one layer. Remember that thin royal will shrink when it dries, and you don't want your invisible lines to show through. If that happens, flooding another layer over top will also result in breakage, because the second flooded layer won't have the structural patchwork in it. DO NOT bang the finished piece to get any air bubbles out or you'll crack your structural lines, which are still fragile before the flooded royal dries. Use a pin to poke the bubbles out instead.

Return the finished piece to the NO HEAT/LIGHTBULB ON oven for 36 hours, no less. To remove the piece from the acetate, pull the sheet to the edge of the cutting board and run a flat offset spatula between the plaque and the acetate, a little at a time and working your way around your artwork until you eventually get to the centre and the piece will pop off the acetate whole. Just make sure you do it slowly and patiently.

Gosh I hope that makes sense. Maybe I should do a demo for this when I eventually get around to getting a new camera. You can do some pretty advanced stuff with royal icing but I'd definitely need pictures to explain all of that.

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Thank you very much! A demo of this would be a cool thing to have on here but I understand what you're saying. I already planned to remove it from the cake before cutting so I guess technically I could just leave it on the plastic for that matter, that honestly hadn't occured to me until now. Anyway, I'm going to give it a shot. I'll let everybody know how it goes.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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You can spray a teensly bit of pan release on the surface and then wipe it evenly with a paper towel. There will be enough grease adhering to make it release well. I would use waxed paper though because it has a bit more flex.

Grease is the enemy of royal icing, and it'll keep the plaque from fully hardening and it'll crack or break for sure. I wouldn't use waxed paper either..... the icing sticks to the wax. Ditto for parchment.... the icing sticks to the paper. Clear acetate really is the way to go.

Baking and decorating is such a multi faceted endeavor, one person's never ever do is often the next person's I swear by this. Many people recommend using waxed paper with royal projects. Check the International School of Sugarcraft Book 3, page 142, Toshie Harashima recommends waxed paper. Colette Peters recommends using waxed paper for run-in designs. Toba Garrett uses parchment. Earlene Moore recommends applying crisco then wiping it off to facilitate removal of royal icing lace points.

http://members.nuvox.net/~zt.proicer/cakepict/lacepcs.htm

It's in the paragraph that starts "Nicholas Lodge has an excellent book..." right under "Make yourself a handle for your pattern with masking tape." Down toward the end of the article.

Not all ideas and procedures fit each of our individual modus operandi but they are all viable.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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one person's never ever do is often the next person's I swear by this.

Well said. In my case, wax paper has always been a no-no nightmare, and parchment has always been a dream. The parchment I use is treated (I believe with silicone) and royal icing NEVER sticks to it.

I would personally never use acetate for royal, although I use it a lot for run-in chocolate work....acetate is great for that. I have never tried using any type of shortening to rub on the surface of something I was going to pipe royal icing onto, because I was afraid the shortening would

prevent the piece from drying properly. Never tried it, so I can't say whether that's true or not.

I only advise based on personal experience, and I know that acetate and royal, for me, is too risky.

I tried it once, thinking that since I had such great results with the chocolate, the same would be true with royal....not so in my case. Even though I carefully ran a thin offset spatula under the fully dried piece, I ended up with a lot of breakage, and I was really careful. I don't wish to spend a lot of time piping out a piece and then worrying about lifting it from the surface later...with my schedule, I don't have time to re-do much of anything.

Who knows why I had trouble, and Sugarella swears by it. Maybe the difference was using royal icing made with meringue powder as opposed to pasteurized liquid whites. Or maybe it was the the consistency of the royal icing, or the way it was mixed. Or relative humidity in the air, or the type of acetate.

That said, I rarely do any royal pieces anymore, because even if you are able to get the piece off of your chosen piping surface, they still are quite fragile.......too fragile even. I prefer to use mediums that aren't quite so nerve wracking, like chocolate and Sugarveil. Or even frozen buttercream transfers. :smile:

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I know that acetate and royal, for me, is too risky.

I tried it once, thinking that since I had such great results with the chocolate, the same would be true with royal....not so in my case. Even though I carefully ran a thin offset spatula under the fully dried piece, I ended up with a lot of breakage, and I was really careful. ....

Who knows why I had trouble, and Sugarella swears by it. Maybe the difference was using royal icing made with meringue powder as opposed to pasteurized liquid whites. Or maybe it was the the consistency of the royal icing, or the way it was mixed. Or relative humidity in the air, or the type of acetate.

The difference was the structure lines piped first, dehydrated, then flooding the piece and dehydrating again. That's why I bothered writing it all out like that. Just trying to help...... :unsure:

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one person's never ever do is often the next person's I swear by this.

Well said. In my case, wax paper has always been a no-no nightmare, and parchment has always been a dream. The parchment I use is treated (I believe with silicone) and royal icing NEVER sticks to it.

I would personally never use acetate for royal, although I use it a lot for run-in chocolate work....acetate is great for that. I have never tried using any type of shortening to rub on the surface of something I was going to pipe royal icing onto, because I was afraid the shortening would

prevent the piece from drying properly. Never tried it, so I can't say whether that's true or not.

I only advise based on personal experience, and I know that acetate and royal, for me, is too risky.

I tried it once, thinking that since I had such great results with the chocolate, the same would be true with royal....not so in my case. Even though I carefully ran a thin offset spatula under the fully dried piece, I ended up with a lot of breakage, and I was really careful. I don't wish to spend a lot of time piping out a piece and then worrying about lifting it from the surface later...with my schedule, I don't have time to re-do much of anything.

I use acetate for royal pieces all the time. I wipe a thinthinthin layer of shortening onto the acetate, then pipe, runout, etc. No problem, and the tiny amount of shortening doesn't prevent the royal from setting at all. You can get a spatula under the pieces to release them. For large or fidgety pieces, you can place them under a warming lamp or into a slow oven to melt the shortening a bit, and the pieces will slide off with no problem.

Related story -- I did a runout collars demo in Vegas a few years back -- had to get my stuff from my hotel room to the conference center across the street, and as I left the hotel it started raining. To keep the raindrops off my pretty runout pieces, I held the board upside down. By the time I got across the street, the Vegas heat had softened the shortening enough that I'd lost 3 of my 4 collar pieces. Had to do a little tap dancing at the demo. ;)

I've even gotten a little crazy with. For this cake I lined a flower former with acetate, smeared on a little shortening, then brush-embroidered each petal onto the acetate. When dry, I carefully lifted each super-thin, lacy petal off the acetate and assembled them into the water lily. Pain in the butt, but a really cool effect.

B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

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  • 3 months later...

I'm interested in learning more about decorating with royal icing/sugarpaste and making sugar flowers.

At the moment I don't have time to take a class, but i've managed to teach myself most of what I know about baking.

Does anyone have recommendations for good cake decorating books/resources? Or some easier first projects? I thought decorated cookies or cupcakes might be an easy place to start.

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Kayakado makes an excellent recommendation. In fact beside the year book Wilton puts out ever year, they have a set of enyclopedia's you could probably find on ebay. I only have volume two but it's a great set of cake deco books.

I'm self-taught for what it's worth. In the past few years I've attended many demos and you always learn something at a demo. When you have time for it that is.

But Wilton is a great resource.

Rob is awesome with all that P&B organization for us all.

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I found the Wilton books to be of great help, as well as Colette peters books.

Thanks for the suggestion. Her latest book looks fantastic! I've got it on reserve at the library and can't wait to have a look.

Don't wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Orison Swett Marden

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  • 4 months later...

I've been making royal icing for years without a problem, then I had a batch of cookies ruined last evening due to flecks in the icing. Can anyone tell me what I did wrong?

I sift my 10X sugar and use pasteurized egg whites to make my icing. I use the paddle in my mixer and beat the icing for a few minutes.

This particular time I was coloring the icing light purple. I used 1 drop of one brand of gel color and the icing started to turn gray. At that point I grabbed a small, brand new bottle of purple gel color and added a few drops, getting the purple shade I wanted. I outlined and iced the cookies and set them on the speed rack to dry.

Today there were pink flecks in the purple icing that weren't there yesterday.

Has anyone had this problem - and what did you do to get around it?

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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I've been making royal icing for years without a problem, then I had a batch of cookies ruined last evening due to flecks in the icing. Can anyone tell me what I did wrong?

I sift my 10X sugar and use pasteurized egg whites to make my icing. I use the paddle in my mixer and beat the icing for a few minutes.

This particular time I was coloring the icing light purple. I used 1 drop of one brand of gel color and the icing started to turn gray. At that point I grabbed a small, brand new bottle of purple gel color and added a few drops, getting the purple shade I wanted. I outlined and iced the cookies and set them on the speed rack to dry.

Today there were pink flecks in the purple icing that weren't there yesterday.

Has anyone had this problem - and what did you do to get around it?

I have actually seen this happen, and sometimes it is due to an old bottle of coloring and a poor quality color, what happens in that the color separates as it sits, so you end up with pink or blue flecks. Usually when it has happened to me, i buy a new bottle of color, and make sure i shake it well. I of course am not 100% sure why it happens or how to stop it, but just my observations when it has happened to me.

Eric

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You don't have any salt in there do yah? Salt sometimes speckles up icing like that. Umm, did it perhaps crust a tiny bit then get mixed up again? That might do it. This usually happens in American buttercream icing huh. Funny that the blue color disappeared and the pink remained though. Pink is usually more fragile. Strange.

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Thanks for the replys - I think the bottle of color was probably old. It was brand new to me, but maybe on the shelf too long at the store.

Sent hubby out for an emergency run to the local craft store for a jar of Wilton color, which worked fine. No flecks in the new royal icing, which has the same batch of past. whites and 10X sugar in it.

Well - this caused me a full day's work, but by the end of the day, problem solved.

I can fall into bed exhausted, but I'll make my deadline!

Beaches Pastry

May your celebrations be sweet!

Beaches Pastry Blog

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  • 9 months later...

I am intending to decorate the lollipops made for the local children's party using Royal icing (thanks to Chocolot and Kerry Beal and two friends at home I asked. It seems that everyone knew about Royal icing except me, so be kind). :shock:

I have four sets of recipes for Royal Icing each giving two versions: one using meringue powder...which I may not even be able to get in this small Utah town...and the other egg whites. I'll no doubt opt for the egg whites. Besides if I could even find meringue powder, how could I guarantee its freshness?

So two of the recipes call for lemon juice and the other two call for cream of tartar. I can no doubt buy cream of tartar although I might not be able to guarantee its shelf freshness (noting that failure due to possible stale cream of tartar is discussed in another current thread). I have fresh lemons.

(The enchanting thing about Moab :wub: is that you can't buy much here: the frustrating thing :angry: about Moab is that you can't buy much here.)

Do they both do the same job in the icing? I would assume so...

Any advice about making? coloring? storing? using? subsequent packaging? The recipes all give some tidbits of information, but nothing takes the place of experience....

Thanks in advance. :smile:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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royal icing: powdered sugar, egg whites, acid (lemon juice or cream of tartar)

the acid helps to keep it white

meringue powder already contains sugar...usually dried egg whites with sugar and maybe another ingredient or two

dried egg whites are pretty easy to find if not, get liquid whites "just whites" or something like that as long as they are pasteurized. the point of using meringue powder/dried whites is because they are safe for young children/older people/people with compromised immunity to eat.

doesn't matter if you use lemon juice or cream of tartar. when i make mine, i usually even add a touch of lemon or orange extract so it doesn't taste so blandly sweet.

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when i make mine, i usually even add a touch of lemon or orange extract so it doesn't taste so blandly sweet.

That's a great idea. I wonder if using orange bitters (like for cocktails) would work: I have never been fond of royal icing due to its extreme sugar hit.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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royal icing: powdered sugar, egg whites, acid (lemon juice or cream of tartar)

the acid helps to keep it white

meringue powder already contains sugar...usually dried egg whites with sugar and maybe another ingredient or two

dried egg whites are pretty easy to find if not, get liquid whites "just whites" or something like that as long as they are pasteurized.  the point of using meringue powder/dried whites is because they are safe for young children/older people/people with compromised immunity to eat.

doesn't matter if you use lemon juice or cream of tartar.  when i make mine, i usually even add a touch of lemon or orange extract so it doesn't taste so blandly sweet.

There is no meringue powder in Moab. As for 'just whites', I'll check tomorrow. And as for the taste of the stuff, that really doesn't matter. It's just to write the child's name on the lollipop or some small decorations...nothing major.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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That's a great idea. I wonder if using orange bitters (like for cocktails) would work: I have never been fond of royal icing due to its extreme sugar hit.

Thanks for the orange bitters idea... :biggrin: but I doubt if little children would like it much.

As for having a sweet tooth, I have almost none and find almost incomprehensible the preference for milk chocolate which so many Americans have . :wink:

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Here in PA there are several farmer's markets which have spice stands or stands which carry spices as part of their product line. Most of them also sell meringue powder. You might want to check the next time you're at one.

Also, if you have any of the following craft stores in your area -

AC Moore

Hobby Lobby

Joann Fabrics and Crafts

Michaels Arts and Crafts

or

a Wal-Mart with a fabric and craft or party section

there's always a Wilton aisle, where you can obtain their brand of meringue powder.

Theresa :biggrin:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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