What is Royal Icing?
Royal icing is a firm-textured icing that has a long shelf life and a matte finish. Its stability makes royal icing perfect for decorating cookies, cakes etc. The icing can be made with a base of either whipped egg whites or meringue powder. I prefer working with meringue powder for hygenic and food safety reasons. Royal icing may also be used to create flowers and decorations which can be dried and applied at your liesure, making it quite versatile. The ability to prepare docorations days in advance is a serious boon to time management. Royal icing may also be used to “fill in” the top surface of a cookie, or as a cement to hold decorations in place.
There are 3 basic types of Royal Icing consistency:
1. Stiff Consistency Icing (SCI)
SCI is nearly impossible to spread and easily maintains a peak. It has a texture similar to buttercream frosting, but is firm enough to be used as “glue” to attach gum paste flowers to a cake. It dries rapidly upon making contact with the air.
2. Medium Consistency Icing (MCI)
The best way to describe MCI is slightly melted soft serve ice cream. The icing is barely stiff enough to maintain a peak. MCI is easily spread with a spatula or needle. Achieving this consistency requires gradually adding water.
3. Flood Consistency Icing (FCI)
FCI is the most fluid, which makes it perfect for icing cookies. A simple way to test if the icing is the proper consistency is to dip your spatula, then allow the icing to fall off on its own. If it takes longer than 15 seconds to fall off, its too think. If it takes less than 10 seconds to fall off, its too thin. Achieving the proper consistency is important, especially if you intend to use the icing for outlining and filling. Too thin and it’ll spill off, too thick and you won’t be able to spread it.
Common uses of FCI include: Icing cookies, wet-on-wet (wet to wet) technique.
Remember, practice makes perfect! There were many times I was frustrated trying to achieve the perfect consistencies necessary for certain products. Time, patience and practice are the only ways to consistently achieve the consistencies you need.
Here are some tips to keep in mind while working on Royal Icing Consistency:
Always have extra SCI on hand in a separate bowl.
If you’ve added too much water while attempting to soften SCI into MCI or FCI, DO NOT add powdered sugar! Instead, add a tablespoon of SCI to thicken it again.
Take into account the temperature and relative humidity where you’re working, they’ll determine how much water you need to add.
In my recipe for royal icing, I use 10 tablespoons of meringue powder for every 2 pounds of powdered sugar. At first glance, this appears to be too much meringue powder, being twice the amount most recipes recommend. However, this helps stabilize the consistency and gives you more time to work before drying out.
Get the decorating products I use in my projects here: My Favorite Products