I’ll start by saying I’m so pleased how my cookies turned out. They aren’t perfect (nor am I) but they turned out better than I hoped.
I’ve read numerous posts on making Royal Icing (RI) and how to add water to get a flooding consistency. The recipes themselves are quite different if you can believe that for a recipe that contains so few ingredients.
I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos on decorating sugar cookies and how to outline and then flood them.
One of the videos I came across was a user called SweetAmbs.
My word that lady is super talented. I was mesmerised watching her flood cookies. Anyway on Saturday morning when I couldn’t sleep in I found she had a Facebook page, and from there I found her website and took no time to place an online order for a package that contained the recipe for the RI, cut out cookies, a video on how to make the RI, cookie decorating and some other videos.
I encourage you to buy the bundle, it only cost NZ$10 (well a little less than that with the exchange rate – as at yesterday) and the videos are worth watching, especially if you’re a visual person. I would never have believed the RI consistency was right had I not seen for myself.
At Christmas time I made some cut out cookies and made RI using the Edmonds Cook book the way my Mum has made it in the past. But these days people are intolerant to so many things, and raw egg can cause problems, so I made RI using Meringue Powder, another first for me.
I got all the things I thought I would need out. Being prepared and organised is a real time saver, but for all that, decorating cookies isn’t a 5 minute job. I was at it for at least 2 hours, and it was making me a little dizzy all that concentrating. But it was fun and I’m glad I did it, and happy with the results.
Now for that consistency that, had I not seen it, I would have thought was no where close to what RI should be like. This is what is called stiff RI. It’s how it should be for piping outlines. From here you add water, a little at a time, to achieve the flooding consistency.
I picked up a tip from watching other YouTube videos, and because you can go from a little too stiff to too watery when making a flooding consistency, I used a spray bottle to add a little water at a time. But I actually had to add quite a lot of water, but still I stuck with the spray bottle. I started out squirting about 6 times, mixing the water in and squirting more water. I had to continue to do that about another 3 times before I was starting to get close to the flooding consistency. Basically you’re looking for the icing to fall into itself (like settle back into the icing so it’s all completely absorbed and flat), which should take around 10-16 seconds. And the number of seconds changes from one accomplished decorator to the next. I stuck with 14 seconds and this is what it looked like at the beginning of the counting. You seriously wouldn’t think it would sort of melt into the rest of it in 14 seconds but it did.
Adding colour was fun. I used Americolor gels. These darken over the course of a day so bear that in mind. I had to add quite a bit of yellow to get the right shade, and today it’s a lot brighter.
I used the wet on wet technique which is basically to outline and flood the cookie and give it a shake to settle it all in, using a toothpick or the like to reshape the edges if need be. Then while the RI is still wet add the other colours. I used Wilton tips 1, 2 and 3 for the icing. You can see the difference between the 2 and 3, the 3’s are a heavier dot.
The one in the middle is just a mish mash of me trying for non wet on wet. I waited several hours before trying to pipe zig zags but my tips were too fat to make a good job of it.
I also marbled some of the cookies. That is nothing more than piping over the still wet icing, in lines, shaking the cookie to help the icing sit flat and then using a toothpick to drag through the lines. You don’t need to drag through touching the cookie, just enough of the tip of a toothpick to penetrate the icing is all that’s needed. Believe me you can tell the difference to those that I was practically scraping the cookie underneath to those I was less heavy handed with.
At the end of the day, when I thought I was done, I decided to pipe little dots all around the edge of some cookies. I was rubbish to begin with but it slowly started to come together. I’m sure you can tell from the above shot which was my first cookie to embellish with dots.
Here’s the cookies that Mr Fussy is really keen on, though he wasn’t in favour of the speckled look which was nothing more than chocolate brown gel with water and an artist paint brush dipped in and then flicked by hitting the side of my index finger with the handle of the brush. It’s a little messy but it’s simple enough to achieve. I’ve read of people using cocoa and vanilla essence to achieve the same effect.
I didn’t use a different consistency for the outline to the flooding RI. And I’m glad. I’ve seen some cookies where the outline is clearly defined to the flooded icing. I like that mine don’t have edges to them. It was easy to manipulate the icing after flooding the cookie when the outline wasn’t quite perfect. The toothpick helped to push the icing into the correct (or more correct) outline.
I used the wet on wet to make the eyes for the bunnies. At this stage I was using a size 1 Wilton tip and had a slightly bigger dot of white which I then added a dot of brown. I didn’t even need to squeeze the icing out. Gravity did the job and it was enough icing to get an “eye ball”. I then piped cotton tails onto the smaller bunnies. These reminded me of Animal Biscuits. Well the coloured icing on a small biscuit. Piping the whiskers wasn’t easy. I tried to make a small dot and then drag the tip away but it wasn’t all that successful. It’s fine but it would have been nice to have more whiskers. I was piping this onto the cookies that had sat for at least an hour. I think Ateco make a smaller tip than a Wilton 1. I’ll have to have a fossick around online.
I used Sanding Sugar too. I grabbed a small sandwich tin, or anything that has shallow sides, and the put the just iced bunny in the tin and shook the sanding sugar over the top. I tapped the cookie a little to release the extra sugar and then tipped the tin so that the corner of the tin was above the sanding sugar container, then poured the left over sugar back in. Waste not want not.
The yellow egg in the middle didn’t quite turn out how I wanted. It’s got disco dust on it. It was only supposed to be on the outline. I guess I did that one wrong. I thought the dust would only adhere to the wet outline but it stayed put to every surface it came into contact with. To get every last bit of disco dust back into the container you can use a clean paint brush (one only used for food) to bush the dust out of the tin.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do with the bunny heads. I was out of inspiration (borrowed from other people I might add). So I decided to marble some of them. The pink one with dots is my favourite, it’s pretty and delicate and a bit girly. Ok a lot girly. And while I’m not really a pink frilly girly girl, I like this cookie.
With the bunny ears I added the pink onto the wet RI and then used a toothpick to swirl it around a bit before tapping the cookie to help settle all the icing.
The RI recipe I made was way too much for what I needed. But I didn’t know. I thought I would use more given I had around the same number of cookies as the recipe said it would cover. And I didn’t skimp on the icing, it’s quite thick. So I was thrilled to read online that I could freeze it. The icing that is flooding consistency is likely to separate a bit due to the water. But you can massage the icing and the water will mix in okay. But I’ll be putting mine back into a bowl and giving it a good stir before using it to pipe.
Got to love Glad Snap Lock bags
I was going to share the RI recipe but since it’s a saleable item on SweetAmbs.com I don’t feel I can. Actually the cookie recipe is only US$1.99 and includes the RI recipe with it. You don’t have to buy the bundle which included some videos not available on YouTube.
I can say that it includes:
1 kg Icing Sugar
10 Tbs meringue powder (I have CK from CakeStuff)
3/4 cup of water
Pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Ingredients aren’t copyrighted in America (man their Internet protection laws are way beyond NZ and it’s really quite scary stuff).
And yeah, I realise that I have pretty much shared the recipe. But I have removed the “loose” instructions that I had written after reading the terms and conditions on SweetAmbs website.
In all honesty, you’ll probably find that most of the recipes for RI follow the same method to make it up. I certainly didn’t do anything that wasn’t typical or even differed from the Edmonds book, bar the use of real egg white.
I’ve seen lots of recipes that use clear vanilla essence so as not to add colour, and I’ve seen recipes that use almond essence instead. So just whatever you fancy really.
I added some Bright White Americolor to my white flood consistency icing. I can’t say I noticed a change in colour though, and it seems white enough to me. The hardest colour for me was getting the duck egg blue. It really is quite light and you can’t tell it’s blue until you place the cookie next to something white. See the hatched chicks above that are Mr Fussy’s favourites.
Happy Easter (for this coming weekend)!