Ice, Ice Baby

FBRoyal icing, that is.

If you’re weirdly curious, like me, about random facts that will only serve you when people ooohhh and aaaaahhh over your creations, then you’ll want to know this tidbit for idle conversations: “The earliest reference to Royal Icing dates back to the 1600s. It was known as ‘Egg White’ icing – a well-beaten mixture of egg white + icing sugar. It gained the accolade ‘Royal‘ when it was used to coat & decorate Queen Victoria’s wedding cake in 1840.” Donna Jane Cakes can give you more info on the history of the icing and the evolution of cake decorating in said article. Read away.

There is a weird art to making royal icing work, and it only comes with practice. The more you work with it, the easier it becomes to work with, and the more nuisances you learn about the sticky stuff. Wait, am I saying practice makes perfect? I need to eat my own words. Perhaps literally. I need to make more cookies…

Years ago, I was feeling stifled by the concentration camp of a private school I was working in, so I signed up for a Wilton cake decorating class at my local Michael’s. Yeah me. My direct superior was pissed when I refused to take on extra responsibilities on that night every week – because it was one of those glorious places where if you do your job, you’re rewarded with more work –  but I couldn’t have cared less at that point. Cake decorating I was a goin’.

Alas, I use the Wilton royal icing recipe. On this site, click on the supply list, and then click on the instructions.

Note: Meringue powder does have a funky taste. It’s not overly pleasing to some pallets, and people who play with it often have noted that Wilton’s has an aftertaste. I always flavor my icing, but I kinda agree with them. Try a few different meringue powders to see what works best for you. Just make sure you use extracts or emulsions to flavor. An oil will not work with the meringue powder.

I’d highly encourage you to watch the Icing 101 video on consistency on the right side of the page before you begin. Despite being thin, I think the chick in the video has eaten as much frosting as she’s made. She’s a bit too “[hands waving everywhere] OMG, I’m a girl who’s made cookie mistakes, but OMG [way more hand movement] I learned, and OMG [even more hand movement] am here to help you not make those mistakes.”

Her info is quite valid. She’s just a wee bit perkier than I am in my examination of my failures.

Consistency is everything when working with royal icing, both in thickness and how often you work with it. As well as mastering what tips you’re going to use to get the desired outcome…I had some decent fails in both these categories with my decorating. Again, it all comes down to practice, and I need more practice. And a way steadier hand.

Going back to my Patriot’s jerseys I made with my No Fail Sugar Cookie recipe…

  1. Step 1 is to color your icings as needed.
  2. When coloring your icing:
    1. Make 2 bowls with each color
      1. A smaller one with medium consistency
      2. A larger one with thin consistency for flooding the inside
  3. Outline your design using medium consistency icing:IMG_6952
  4. You will want to use one hand to hold the bag and squeeze with consistent pressure, while using the other to guide the tip. This is far easier said than done. See how straight my not-so-straight lines are?
  5. Fill in the outline with thin consistency icing: (isn’t it curious how different the picture looks when taken from a different angle???)IMG_6953
  6. Let this thin set icing dry before working on top of it. Give it a good hour or more. You want the thin icing to have a good hardness to it before proceeding so you don’t mess up the smoothness.
  7. Names/writing should be done in medium-stiff-ish icing. Another fail on my part. Given the size of the cookie, I knew I needed to use a size 1 tip, but struggled with the icing – at 1st it was too thick and was clogging the tip, and then I thinned it too much. Suffice it to say, pissed offness took over and I just went with it.
  8. Long names should not be on jerseys. Just sayin’.IMG_6955
  9. I should’ve printed out small block numbers and outlined them in medium icing on wax paper (like Polly Peppyanna did at the end of her video), and then filled with thin icing.
    1. These numbers almost destroyed me. I got up with tears in my eyes from sheer, absolute, pissed off anger at one point. Yeah, there was no, “OMG [hand waving], I’ve made cookie mistakes.” It was more like feral beast picks up table and tosses it across room. Perhaps that’s why you don’t see a video blog from me.
  10. Yes, there was a drunk fan cookie. The cookies tasted too good to toss when I royally fucked them up, so I just rolled with it. I suppose that’s actual real life: 1) you just roll with things. 2) at every game, there’s always a drunk fan.

For the record, everyone loved my cookies, said they were quite tasty, that I had done something awesome that none of them would have considered attempting, and that they were awesomely decorated.

I appreciated them blowing smoke up my ass.

I could only agree that the cookies tasted good.

The Patriot’s need to work on their tackles and defense.

I will be making more of this cookie in my #365daysofbaking challenge. Just be fair warned. Each occasion warrants a different cookie cutter. And just like my pictures are getting better, so will my cookie decorating.

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