Now you have baked your cake, cupcake or cookie, and it tastes great! So what’s next?
Time to decorate!!
How about royal icing?
What is royal icing you might ask? It is icing made out from egg whites and icing sugar.
What is good about royal icing is that it is stable enough to hold it’s shape for a long time. Much stronger and durable than buttercream.
You may have encountered royal icing before. It is one of the popular means of decorating cookies and often times used to make colorful flowers on cakes.
Royal icing has been around since the early 19th century. William Jarrin made mention of royal icing on his book, “The Italian Confectioner” where he described the recipe using tools and ingredients present during that time. Including wooden spaddle and pots.
Certain ice cream cones were made with royal icing as concocted by Agnes Marshall.Ralph Ayres, a cook at New College in oxford on the other hand used marzipan with royal icing over a fruitcake in Queen Victoria’s wedding. Until then it was called sugar icing but known as Royal Icing as it was used for the cake of royals.
Oh wait, what about egg whites?
Ah yes, egg whites.
You may have a fear of salmonella due to cross contamination and of course food poisoning, fear not. Nowadays we use pasteurized egg whites or meringue powder.
Pasteurized eggs are sometimes not readily available in supermarkets but you can prepare one yourself. Like cows milk where it is heated at a certain temperature kills bacteria. For eggs the temperature has to be low so as not to cook the egg but high enough to kill the bacteria.
In other words the heat must be gentle.
You can do your own pasteurization but you have to be careful since the procedures are precise. Any changes would alter the egg consistency.
Oh yes, pasteurized eggs are not best for whipping, especially stiff peaks since you alter the proteins.
Now if you feel that pasteurization is all that complicated and tedious then we are left with meringue powder. Meringue powder consists of dehydrated egg whites. The process of dehydrating the egg whites kills of any bacteria on it.
Just take note that meringue powder contain stabilizers and at times sweeteners and flavorings. Make sure to check the labels and your recipe for your needs.
The beauty of royal icing
What are the things you can do with Royal Icing?
Why would you even consider using royal icing for your cake and pastry decorations?
It is hard when dried
This is one of the reasons why a lot of people love to work with royal icing.
They can make intricate flowers which hold it’s shape or objects that can support it’s own weight and can be shaped without bending or melting.
The drawback to this is that, royal icing cannot be used as icing for cakes and cupcakes. If properly done it is tough but it is brittle and can crack.
Can be piped
For those used to making buttercream decors and icing, piping royal icing requires little adjustments. You can use the existing skills to make out your designs on this medium.
The consistency is really like icing where you can control the mixture to your desired shape.
Unlike fondant, after the royal icing has been made, there is no kneading necessary. Once you have piped all your designs, all you need to do is dry it out.
You have to work on it after mixing though. Since it hardens, you need to work on it within a couple of hours after the royal icing has been made other wise it will start to harden depending on the room’s humidity.
Can be done ahead of time
As mentioned previously, it is hard and keep its shape. That added to the fact that once you have made the mixture properly and your decor is all set it can virtually last a lifetime as long as you store it properly away from all the humidity.
So if you are expecting a large batch of workload in the future, fear not since you can do most of the royal icing decor in advance to cut the work done.
Can be used as adhesive for other cake decors
The royal icing mixture is sticky plus the fact that it hardens is great for attaching decors to your cakes and pastries.
You can attach other royal icing decors or even decors using other mediums.
You can do infinite colors and shades
Yes you can! You think buttercream or fondant are the only decorating mediums that can be colorful, bright and alive?
Yes royal icing can do those and more!
You can integrate into the royal icing mixture your desired color and your desired shade producing an almost infinite array of color palette.
Colors are actually general description of hue or shade.
We all know the primary colors right? Well let’s review. The primary colors are Red, Yellow and Blue.
Now how do we get the other colors? We combine the colors. For example of we mix blue and red, we get violet. If we mix blue and yellow we get green. Yellow and red, we get orange.
These colors that are produced with the primary colors are called secondary colors. Now how about the other colors? The other colors are made depending on how much of the primary colors or secondary colors are used?
It is becoming complicated right?
For example, you remember how to get violet right? It is around equal parts red and equal parts blue. Now to get magenta or somewhat close to it we increase the ratio of red to the red and blue mixture. More red than blue. For a purple color, we increase the blue color. More blue than red.
Now the colors that are produced in between the mixtures of colors, I do not know the names but they are always important to capture either the likeness of an object that we are copying or the emotions that we like to convey such as bright colors for happiness or to get attention or a serious tone for darker or blue colors.
Now, here is the thing. In real life it is not as simple as that. When getting the colors that you wanted the ratio of colors does not always produce the results that you wanted. The pigments (the material or substance present in paints or coloring that gives the color) act differently when mixed with another or when applied to a medium. It can be attributed to the substances in the paint or the shade and materials used on the medium where the colors are being applied.
Imagine getting the color that you wanted on a cake or pastry that you are working on!
The moisture and the different ingredients on the cake and not to mention the head when being cooked (for those colors applied before cooking) affects the outcome of a product.
For those who has experience in making fondant cake. It can be tedious for some to color fondant especially of the store bought ones do not carry the color you desire. Once you add the color to a fondant it has to be kneaded first to spread the color all throughout the fondant. If unsatisfied, you add more if the color is not enough or add fondant if there was too much.
You can do the same with royal icing. the process is less tedious and you can get the effect you wanted
You can get the colors out of the color wheel and then sum if you wanted but to get the most out of the royal icing and the colors there is a technique and process that is being followed.
Where do I begin?
As mentioned, you can create your infinite color palette using royal icing as medium.
Colors ranging from the red colors of one side of the color spectrum to the blues of the other end of the color spectrum.
You can also have one color with different hues or shades.
Coloflow Royal Icing by Joey Montanez
Colorflow royal icing is a class that not only teaches you how to make royal icing but to make your own design and most importantly how to properly use colors to make your design come alive!
Joey Montanez is a self taught royal icing artist who has been expertly making toppers for cakes and cupcakes for many years. Most of his works are being sold in WonderBake (a baking supply store here in the Philippines) and some are being exported.
His class is called Colorflow from the technique of piping royal icing to make different designs. The technique includes outlining and filling up the outline or “flooding”. All that while teaching you how to get the color and outcome you wanted.
This class is essentially the introduction to the world of art in royal icing!
The class will explain in detail the materials and tools needed to make your royal icing design even piping bags from scratch.
Also included are practice worksheets for you to start your learning.
Of course coloring your design, finishing and also how to properly store them and mount them on your cake without breaking.
Interested in taking the online class?
If you want to know how he started and get inspired by Sir Joey’s story, watch the video below for our interview.