Royal icing consistencies

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My favourite medium to do cake deco is of course, fondant or sugarpaste.   Buttercream and royal icing are totally different compared to fondant, you will have to do lots of piping work and it can sometimes be a bit messy.   But in terms of taste,  buttercream is the best of all three ( in my opinion).   Each has its pro and cons.  Anyway, I have with me a wonderful book by Eddie Spence MBE called “The Art of Royal icing” and would like to share some tips in the book.

Types of Royal Icing (RI) -   you can use any royal icing recipe you have, but similar to buttercream, the consistency needs to be altered for different purposes.   Prepare a batch of royal icing and then you can take small portions and alter the consistency or thickness.


FIRM OR STIFF -   Measure and sieve 1 tablespoon of icing sugar, add to every 175 gm of RI.   Stir with a spoon.  Do not add too much or it will be too stiff, creating wrinkles when you pipe it.  Firm RI is used to pipe flowers, feathers and anything which needs to stand.

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OFF-PEAK / NORMAL  -  The tip of the RI peak should slightly bend over.   And usually the recipe you make is for normal consistency.   This is used for drop line, extension work, scrolls, filigree and pressure piping.

SMOOTH/ RUBBED DOWN –  Rub down is actually using a paddle or palette knife and rubbing down the RI on a non-stick board to expel the air bubbles.  You will get a smooth texture.  Add a few drops of water if needed.  This consistency is used for  covering cakes and piping small figurines.

RUN-OUT – You need to rub down the icing as above.  Add cold water (yes, cold) to thin the RI bit by bit.  To test, draw a line into the RI with a knife and it should flow together or disappear into the rest of the icing after 10 seconds.  Suitable for run-outs such as lettering and collars.

GUTTERING –  Same as run-out but less water.  The icing should flow together after 16 seconds.  The RI will be slightly stiffer.   To be used for run-out that will dry on a radius curve, as opposed to flat.

Sounds complicated ?  You can try it at home or for more complicated designs, you need to attend an advanced RI class.   Once you know the basic, then you can further explore the art of Royal Icing.  Cheers.