Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tutorial: Royal Icing

When I saw professional looking cookies I always asked myself - how in the world did they get such smooth icing all the way to the edges of the cookie? When I tried it myself, the icing would be running off the edges, not at all smooth or thick and difficult to work with.   

Then, as my interest in baking and decorating grew, I found the answer. Royal Icing. 

Royal icing is an icing that dries to a smooth, firm, matte finish. It can be used to decorate cookies or cakes, and with a stiff consistency can be used to create flowers or other decorations as it is hard-drying.

I'm sharing my tutorial here so you can decorate professional looking cookies too.

To get started you'll need:

- 4 cups icing sugar
- 3 tbsp meringue powder (an egg white substitute)
- Warm water
- A mixer (stand or hand held)

Step 1:
Beat icing sugar, meringue powder and 6 tbsps warm water together for 5 - 8 minutes until ingredients are well combined and form soft peaks. See the evolution of what it will look like below:

This "stiff" consistency can be used to decorate cakes or create flowers or decorations. To "flood" cookies however, the icing needs to be thinned out.

Step 2:
Add water a tablespoon or two at a time and mix well. The icing will become more and more liquid as you go (see photos below). As the icing begins to look like the consistencies below, test it before adding more water. It's much easier to continue to thin icing than to over thin it and have to adjust by adding more icing sugar.

To test consistency:
Run a knife through the icing. The line should disappear within 5-10 seconds. If its longer than that or doesn't disappear at all, continue adding water. If it takes less than 5 seconds to disappear, it may be too thin.

Once you have a good consistency, you can portion out the icing and add colouring to make a variety of colours.

Now that you know how to make and colour it, stay tuned later this week for a tutorial on how to flood cookies with Royal Icing.

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