Have you ever seen those fancy decorated sugar cookies at the bakery and wondered how they get the icing to look so pretty? Royal icing is the answer! This icing dries hard and stands up to packaging very well . You can also have different consistencies and colors.
Best of all, it's a simple recipe!
Follow this instructable for some tips and tricks when making royal icing and decorating your cookies or cakes.
Step 1: Simple Ingredients
To make royal icing (3 cups worth) you will need:
3 Tablespoons of meringue powder
4 Cups of sifted powered sugar
6 Tablespoons warm water
It helps to have a stand up mixer but it's not necessary.
Combine all ingredients and mix on low speed for 7 minutes. Turn off the mixer and scrape the bowl sides every once in awhile to make sure nothing gets left behind. You will want to see peaks to start to form. Then you can remove the mixing bowl and cover the top with a damp towel until you are ready to start applying the icing.
Step 2: Application
There are many different methods of using royal icing. All the way from putting together gingerbread houses and making homemade sprinkles to making intricate flowers.
We will take a look at piping and flooding. A nice smooth icing surface on a cookie is made by piping an edge and letting it set then flooding the middle with thinner royal icing.
To pipe the outer edge, pick out a round icing tip. A Wilton #5 round tip(or even a little bigger or smaller would work). Prepare an icing bag and pipe out an edge all around your cookie. Let set until stiff.
Flood icing is basically your regular royal icing with a water added. Separate an amount of icing you will want to use for flooding. Add a couple teaspoons of water at a time until you get the consistency you want. To test, take a spoonful and drop it onto a flat surface covered in wax paper. Watch and see how long it takes to smooth itself out. It should take about 15 seconds. If it never puddles out, add a little more water and try again. If it too runny, just add a little bit more of your original mixture and try again. After making it a few times, you'll know just the right way to mix it.
Use a new icing bag and fill it with the flood icing. Use an icing tip with a slightly larger opening than your piping icing. Flood in between the lines slowly and watch it flow to the edges. It may be necessary to use a toothpick to help push the flooding all the way to the edges. It does take practice. There is a balance of staying within the lines and also knowing how much to flood to almost reach the edges and let gravity do the rest of the work.
Step 3: Coloring and Other Applications
You can tint your icing with food coloring before adding it to the bag. In my opinion royal icing looks great in pastel tones but you can do any color.
You can also pipe designs right onto naked cookies. If you have segments touching, let one section dry before adding icing right next to it.
It is optional but sometimes people like to have their icing dry a little faster to prevent any unevenness (bumps and dips) that can occur in drying. To do this, turn your oven to 175 degrees F and then turn it off. Immediately, stick in your iced cookies for about 10 minutes and it will help the icing dry faster and more evenly.
Step 4: Storage
Royal icing can store up to 3 - 4 weeks. The key is to keep air out of it so that it will not dry out. You can use a damp towel over the bowl for short term storage but I don't like the idea of a wet towel just lying around. I've stored it in air tight containers and it kept okay. When it's time to use some more, just give it a good stir to get that fluffy texture back.
You can also pipe out designs on wax paper, let them dry, peel them off and them store them in an air tight container up to a year.
Once you get the hang of royal icing, the things you can make are limitless. You don't have to just use a round tip either. Try swirling two or more flooded icing colors with a toothpick to try some new designs. Have fun with this versatile decorating medium!