Making royal icing run-outs

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Picture from the book – Making great cakes by Angela Nilsen

No, in case you are wondering, I’m not running out of royal icing. It’s the name of those things like the butterfly and the love shapes in the picture above. Basically it’s made of dried royal icing and today I’m going to show you how I made mine. You will need royal icing (preferably freshly made), egg whites, icing sugar, round piping tubes and piping bags, an artist brush, a piece of acetate or baking sheet, and food colouring. For this project, we need two types of royal icing – a stiff consistency to make the outline and a softer one for filling in. To make the royal icing stiffer, add more icing sugar and stir. For softer consistency, add a few drops of the egg white and mix. The soft consistency is similar to that of a whipping cream.

Begin by tracing some shapes you like on a piece of paper. Then lay your baking or acetate sheet securely on top of the paper. You don’t want the sheet to be moving around, tape it if you have to.

Make an outline using the stiff consistency royal icing. I’m using my no. 2 round shape tip but the smaller the tip, the better.

Leave that to dry. In the mean time, prepare the icing to fill in (or, they call it flooding). Colour the icing. I just use the usual liquid food colouring for this. Remember to colour the icing first, then only thinned it down with the egg whites. Once you get the right consistency, pipe it using a plastic or paper bag to fill the outlines. Be careful not to make the hole of you paper bag too big or the icing will flow out too quick. Try not to touch the outlines made from the stiff icing. Fill in so it looks slightly over filled and rounded, it will shrink a bit once its dried.


Use a brush to fill in any gaps. Leave it to dry overnight or longer. Once dried you can remove it by using a palette knife or anything with a flat surface.


To make the butterfly in the cake picture above, you do two separate run-outs for the wings. The body can be made of fondant. Stick the wings together with some royal icing and you will have a beautiful 3D butterfly.

Frankly, I think the technique is simple, but to wait for it to dry can take up to two days. I normally can’t wait for that long. I keep checking if I can lift the whole thing up and always break some along the way. I guess it’s easier to make butterflies out of fondant or gum paste. 

Here’s a question. The flooding technique is also used for decorated cookies. Once decorated, the cookies need to be baked a few minutes again in the oven. So, if I were to bake the run-outs, will it turn hard and I don’t have to wait for it to dry naturally ? Or the whole thing will just melt ? Maybe this will be my next baking project @ experiment.


michele says:

hi, i tried piping royal icing decorations, let them dry, and then put them on top of cupcakes that had cream cheese frosting. several hours later, the piped decorations had melted all over the frosting and were no longer hard? what am i doing wrong?

ann says:

my dear.. to decorate cookies, u have to bake the cookies first, and then u do the decoration and let them dry.. if u do deco first and then bake, of course all the sugar will melt…

Ahmootha says:

your hubby is one lucky man! to get such a beautiful cake.

Min says:

Fatboy, thank you, thank you.. definitely adding your blog here. Too shy to ask la, you dah famous. :)

fatboybakes says:

hey, when you going commercial? good stuff la. i’m linking your blog, hope you dont mind.

Min says:

Val, I love Anthony Bordain. Kenapa la aku lupa nak add dia.. definitely aku pilih dia kan. But he is too skinny ! But never mind la, at least he likes durian. Floyd is definitely out la. Tak menarik langsung, and dia selalu juga perasan pandai masak local food of every country, tapi selalu salah. Ada ke one day tu dia buat sambal kat Malaysia, dia nak bubuh belacan tapi dia bubuh otak udang, terrible !

val says:

min certainly aku vote jamie oliver la kan. walaupun dia bercakap tempias-tempias.dulu aku suka si chef in black tu. tapi ada hari tu dia buat mee sup cina (kon lo mee) version dia pakai tomato sos, lepas tu dia pula mcm rasa mi nya lebih hebat dari taukeh cina tua (original chef), terus aku menyampah!!!hehheehehe lagipun dia mcm si penyanyi vanilla ice ice baby kan. Min u should put si Anthony Bourdain dalam listing juga. antara dia dan si tempias jamie, 100% si Bourdain!!!coll gila pakcik tu kan. heheh satu lagi cadangan, si Floyd tak termasuk ke…….

val says:

ooooo mcm tu pula.memang hebat iklan “aku makluk Tuhan paling sexy” tu.aku mau klik la

Min says:

Tu affiliate programme, katakan kalau ada org beli produk tu from the click on my blog, aku dpt la sikit komisen.. depending on the company, ada yg bagi 3% of sale price, ada yg sampai 15 %. Ye la, just to cover the price I paid for this blog domain (bukannya free mcm blogspot or wordpress.com), dlm RM100 per year. Baru ni aku upgrade bandwidth (bila ramai visitor terus traffic jam blog aku..).

Ads by Nuffnang tu memang they pay me, Mariefrance chose to advertise here. Berapa diorang bayar aku pun tak sure, tak dpt lagi RM nye. Sikit je la kut..

Anyway, beli la lingerie yg sexy sexy tu.. Yg gambar chef hensem tu saje je aku create poll. Suka-suka. Tengok la result ni, ko vote siapa ?

val says:

min, apa benda iklan2 kat tepi-tepi tu min? are u being paid to advertise those ke? cuba share sket info2 tu.tx

Min says:

Dibah, thanks ye. I rasa orang yang melawat blog ni semuanya terror-terror belaka. Kalau ada tips, kongsi la sama. Ok, take care.

adibah says:

hai min, rajin nye u ni kan… suka tgk, mcm2 u buat. ur blog ni pun bagus utk newbeis cam i ni… byk yg i dpt dr sini, tq…

Min says:

Yes, I’ve seen the Color Flow Wilton product. Maybe I’ll buy one the next time around and try this again. Hopefully when using the Color Flow the run-outs will dry faster. Thanks so much Christine for sharing the info.

Min, in class we were told to add Color Flow to royal icing so that the color shines. This is of course, another Wilton product. Check it out here: http://www.wilton.com/recipes/recipesandprojects/icing/colorflow.cfm

wow min ..they are so pretty. I want to try to make these for my little niece one weekend. she will love them :). thanks for the idea

val says:

cisssssss tertipu rupanya aku!!!!

Min says:

Val, cake tu bukan aku buat, gambar dari buku !

val says:

minnnnnnnnnnn,punya lawa the butterflyyyyyyyyyyy.me likey very much.teruskan usaha mu yg baik ini dengan jayanya!!!!!!!!