Sunday, 4 January 2009

how I make royal icing

Royal icing is the white icing that is used for piping decorations on fancy cakes.  It is also used as the 'glue' in Gingerbread Houses.

When piping decorations, it is important to follow a proper recipe with very precise instructions.  This post will NOT tell you how to do that.  If you are using it as glue for Gingerbread Houses or other such constructions, there is no need to be so precise.  However, if you have absolutely no idea what you are doing, it would be best to follow a proper recipe, like the one in the Common Sense Cookery Book.

This is what I do:
  1. Separate an egg.  Keep the egg-white in a small bowl. 
  2. Mix in some icing sugar adding a little at a time.  Use a wooden or plastic spoon.  Add enough icing sugar (I just use icing mixture... you would have to use pure icing sugar if you are using it for cake decorating) to form stiff peaks when it is all mixed in with the egg-white. 'Stiff peaks' is when you pinch the mixture and two peaks form either side of your fingers and they don't fall down.  You will need 1-2 cups of icing sugar.
  3. Add a small squirt of lemon juice.  I use a real lemon if I've got one and commercial lemon juice if I don't.  The lemon juice helps the mixture dry and set.
  4. Add a little more icing sugar until the mixture will form stiff peaks again.  You don't want them too stiff if you are piping because then it is too difficult to push the mixture through the piping bags.  Use your common sense.  It needs to be soft enough to be malleable and easy to use but strong enough not to be sloppy.
That's it.  Easy.

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