How to Choose the Best Royal Icing Recipe for Your Cakes or Projects

Often people are unaware of which type of Royal icing to use for their cakes or projects so below I’ve put together my two ‘go to’ recipes that will guarantee your cakes turn out successfully.

One of the most versatile products used for cake decorating is Royal Icing whether it sets hard or is a softer version. Below I have listed a few of the things you can use each type for, but I am sure you will discover many more uses for it.

Royal icing that sets very hard can be used for…

  • Piping designs on a cake
  • Extension work
  • Piping flowers
  • Assembling Mexican paste or pastillage structures
  • Assembling a gingerbread house
  • A ‘glue’ for assembling gum paste sugar flowers
  • The centres of some gum paste sugar flowers
  • Floodwork
  • Brush embroidery

A softer version of Royal icing is best for…

  • Completely covering a cake
  • Icing cookies

You might be wondering why but it’s important to choose the best sugar

The most important ingredient in Royal icing is the icing /confectioners sugar. Not all brands are the same so you need to choose one is a very fine powder because when the Royal icing is made, it needs to be very smooth, especially if you are going to do some piping because  if there are grains of sugar left in it then it will not pass through a fine piping nozzle. 

Not sure which type of sugar to use? Then the article ‘Everything You Need to Know About Beet Sugar V’s Cane Sugar for Decorating Cakes‘ will help answer a lot of those questions you may.

I find that cane sugar is usually processed better but is not always available so if you cannot get one that is finely ground then you can put it through a coffee grinder, a couple of spoonsful at a time, to obtain good results.  

If I am going to use it for fine piping work I usually pass the dry icing/confectioners sugar through a NEW nylon stocking and that will get rid of any stray grains of sugar that are left.

 

Royal Icing Eggs

Seriously, do you know why you should be careful when choosing your eggs?

Traditionally, Royal icing was always made with fresh, raw, egg whites and no one thought anything about it, but in recent years, hens are not out in a field enjoying life but kept in barns or batteries so there are more chances of problems within the flocks.

There are concerns that anyone eating raw eggs could get food poisoning from bacteria such as salmonella so giving Royal icing to a very young child or a very old person is of particular concern.

This has led to alternative egg white products being used, especially if you are making cakes for customers it is better to be safe than sorry.

Dried egg whites – usually available from grocery stores, sold in 6 egg packs in which each egg is wrapped separately or you can buy in bulk from a bakery supplier or online from a supplier such as Amazon.

Meringue powder – a lot of home bakers use this as it is the most readily available and is easy to use. It is mainly made with dried egg whites, a small amount of cornflour/cornstarch to keep it from clumping together while stored, some food gums to help it bind together when used and powdered sugar.

Pasteurized raw egg whites – these are egg whites that have been heated to 140F/60C which is hot enough to kill any bacteria but not hot enough to cook the egg white.

You can pasteurise them at home yourself, but it is not something I have tried.

You can find out how here…

Royal Icing Mix

Make Royal icing by hand or with an electric mixer

Royal icing can be made by hand or with an electric mixer. It needs quite a lot of beating by hand so it is hard work but some people prefer to do it this way to ensure that no large bubbles of air are incorporated if they are going to use it for piping.

Personally, I prefer to use an electric mixer and if the mixer is set to medium speed, I don’t find that large bubbles of air are incorporated into the mixture and I find that the icing is whiter. I always leave it to stand for about 2 hours to let it settle after I have made it then mix it gently again before I use it.

Royal Icing – hard set

1 pasteurised Egg white at room temperature

12oz/360g      Icing/confectioner’s Sugar (weigh before sifting)

Juice of half    Lemon

  1. Make sure your mixer bowl is perfectly clean and grease free.
  2. Put the egg white into the bowl, turn the mixer on and beat for 30 seconds.
  3. Sift the icing/confectioner’s sugar into the bowl with the egg white and add the lemon juice.
  4. Stir with a metal spoon until the ingredients are incorporated together (doing this stops the sugar flying everywhere).
  5. Turn the mixer on to medium speed and beat the sugar mixture until it stands in soft peaks. Scrape down the sides of the mixer at regular intervals to make sure it is all incorporated.
  6. If it seems too wet then add a little more sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until the right consistency is reached.
  7. If it is too dry add a little more lemon juice, a half teaspoon at a time until the consistency is right.
  8. When ready place the Royal icing into a smaller bowl (not a plastic one).
  9. Press a piece of cling film/plastic wrap onto the surface of the Royal icing, eliminating all the air, then place in another airtight bag and leave at room temperature for a couple of hours.
  10. When ready for use, stir the icing gently and then use.
  11. If not for use straight away it can be stored under the cling film/plastic wrap, in the sealed plastic bag for a couple of days at room temperature.
  12. Don’t place in the fridge because it will absorb moisture and the consistency will alter.

Royal Icing- softer version

1 tbsp              Meringue powder or 1 large egg white

12 oz/ 360g     Icing sugar

¾ tsp               Glycerine

¼ tsp               Lemon extract (optional)

2 fl oz/60ml     Water

Do this first if you are using an egg white.

Make sure your mixer bowl is perfectly clean and grease free.

Put the egg white into the bowl, turn the mixer on and beat for 30 seconds.

  1. Sift the icing/confectioner’s sugar into the bowl together with the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Stir with a metal spoon until they are incorporated together (doing this stops the sugar flying everywhere).
  3. Turn the mixer on to medium speed and beat the sugar mixture until it stands in soft peaks. Scrape down the sides of the mixer at regular intervals to make sure it is all incorporated.
  4. If it seems too wet then add a little more sugar, a teaspoon at a time, until the right consistency is reached.
  5. If it is too dry add a little more water, a half teaspoon at a time until the consistency is right.
  6. When ready place the Rroyal icing into a smaller bowl (not a plastic one).
  7. Press a piece of cling film/plastic wrap onto the surface of the icing, eliminating all the air, then place in another airtight bag and leave at room temperature for a couple of hours.
  8. When ready for use, stir the icing gently and then use.
  9. If not for use straight away it can be stored under the cling film/plastic wrap, in the plastic bag for a couple of days at room temperature.
  10. Don’t place in the fridge because it will absorb moisture and the consistency will alter.

Although I use the hard version all the time for piping etc., it’s a long time since I have covered a cake with the softer version because I usually use rolling fondant, some type of buttercream or chocolate ganache. However, while I was writing this, I decided that I would use it to cover some of the Christmas cakes this year, just for a change.

I hope you found this article useful and if you have any questions or some tips of your own about Royal Icing, that you would like to share, please put them in the comments box below.

By | 2017-12-15T10:53:40+00:00 October 2nd, 2017|Cake Decorating|2 Comments

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2 Comments

  1. Sandra October 11, 2017 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Thank you for your easy to follow recipe.

    • Joyce Freeman October 11, 2017 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your kind comment. Glad the recipe was OK. I will be posting more recipes soon.

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