Friday, 13 September 2013

Spring Cookies and Royal Icing

It is Friday the 13th.
So far, so good. *Touch wood*. Not that I'm superstitious or anything!
We had a lovely "Bugs and Butterflies" Cookies class this morning, and the mischievous Spring weather didn't  play any tricks on us.

Actually, the number 13 always conjures up the phrase "a baker's dozen" in my one-baking-track-minded brain. And that's about the extent of the significance of 13 for me!

Anyway... It's been a while since I posted anything about cookie decorating and royal icing.
So I thought I'd go back to the basics. Apologies if you've heard this a baker's dozen times at my classes : )

Getting good results with royal icing is all about consistencies and various layering techniques. And practice and patience!
Once you've made a batch of icing (recipe here), you need to water it down, literally teaspoon by teaspoon (slowly - because you know what icing sugar is like with liquids: a drop or two too much, and you go from too thick to too thin faster than you can say drat-darn-it!) until you reach the desired thickness. I generally work with two consistencies - 15second icing and - to use a highly technical term - "peanut butter" thickness ; )

I use the 15s icing for both flooding and general outlining, and the thicker peanut-butter icing - let's call it medium-consistency icing for short : ) - for some detailed work, finer outlines and stenciling.
If I'm doing very fine detailed lacework, piping royal icing roses or ruffles, etc then I use a stiffer icing. But generally, I prefer using the medium-consistency icing because it doesn't peak or "break" as much.

I use tiny Ateco 00 or PME 1.5 nozzles for fine detail work.

So, here's an example - a simply decorated blossom biscuit.

1st step
Outline and flood the centre with 15s icing (and Ateco 01 or 02 tips).
Allow to dry partially (anything from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the humidity)
This allows the icing to "set" a little, so that there will be a textural difference between the centre of the blossom and the surrounding icing.

2nd step
Outline and flood the petals with 15s icing

(It looks about as appealing as a rubbery fried egg at this stage, doesn't it?!)

Leave to dry partially -again, anything from 10minutes to 1 hr.

3rd step
Layer on a few details:

Outline petals

and use a contrasting colour to pipe small dots around the centre of the flower - see how these layers now add interest and 'life' to the cookie?
(Piped with small Ateco 00 nozzles and medium- consistency icing.)

Allow to dry completely - 24 hours - before serving or packaging.

For a few more tips on cookie decorating basics, see this post

Happy decorating!


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