Best Royal Icing Music

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

One of the most versatile products used for cake decorating is Royal Icing, whether it sets hard or is a softer version.

It’s made from Icing/confectioners sugar and egg whites and can be used, for example, to cover a cake, to create designs on cookies, for piping designs as decorations or to pipe flowers and leaves on a cake.

Often people are not sure which type of Royal icing to use for their cakes or projects, so here I’ve put together my two ‘go-to’ recipes that will guarantee your cakes turn out successfully.

Why is it called Royal icing?

 

The earliest reference to an icing made with egg whites and icing /confectioners sugar dates back to the 1600s when it was known as “egg white” icing. It was renamed Royal icing when it was used to coat and decorate Queen Victoria’s wedding cake in 1840

These are a few of the things you can do with soft or hard Royal Icing, and 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
  • Constructing a gingerbread house
  • A ‘glue’ for joining gum paste sugar flowers
  • The centers of some gum paste sugar flowers
  • Flood work
  • Brush embroidery
  • Icing Cookies

A softer version of Royal icing is best for…

 

  • Completely covering a cake
  • Icing cookies

You might wonder why it’s important to choose the best sugar

 

The essential ingredient in Royal icing is the icing /confectioner’s sugar. Not all brands are the same so you need to choose one that is a very fine powder because when making Royal icing, 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. If you can’t get icing/confectioner’s sugar 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 ladies 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 is 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 health 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 an elderly 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.

Egg white alternatives

 

Dried egg whites – are usually available from grocery stores, sold in 6 egg packs in which each egg is wrapped separately, or you can buy them 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 made with dried egg whites, a small amount of cornflour/cornstarch to keep it from clumping together while stored, some food gum to help it bind together when used and powdered sugar.

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

You can pasteurize them yourself, but it is not something I have tried.

You can find out how to pasteurize eggs 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.

I prefer to use an electric mixer, and if I set the mixer 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  large        Egg white at room temperature or 1 tbsp Meringue powder 

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.
  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 – a softer version

 

 I large            Egg White at room temperature or 1 tbsp  Meringue powder 

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 Royal 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 it.
  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, 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.

 Nowadays, I always cover my cakes in rolled fondant icing, buttercream, or ganache, but sometimes it’s good to go back and rediscover old favorites.

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.

Joyce Freeman

Joyce Freeman

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4 thoughts on “How to Choose the Best Royal Icing Recipe for Cakes or Projects”

  1. thank you for sharing your recipes, especially the one for gumpaste. This is a recipe I have not seen before and look forward to trying it.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Netta. I have never bought any gum paste, always making mine to this recipe so I hope you also have success with it.

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