Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tutorial: Icing Consistency 101 - The Basics

Thursday, January 26, 2012
When it comes to decorating cookies (or anything) with Royal Icing, the most important thing is consistency.  If your consistency is off, your details wont come out like you want them.  If it's too stiff, it struggles to come out of the icing tip or wont lay down for a smooth flood.  If it's too thin, your perfectly piped details run into each other and your flood runs over your edges all too make one big runny mess.


So yes, consistency is key.



Now everyone will have a different consistency they prefer working with.  Some people have just one consistency for everything and some have up to like...i dunno...5.  I have 2.  Well, I have more than two really...more like 4....but for basic decorating I have 2:  Piping and Flood.

 An example of cookies made with 3 icing consistencies as opposed to the basic 2

For piping icing you want to make sure that you have it stiff enough to hold it's shape, but not so stiff that it could possible be used as cement.

Piping consistency

For flood icing, you will want it to be thin enough that it will smooth down leaving you with a smooth satin surface, but not so thin that it oozes everwhere.  I don't use a 10 second rule.  Too thin for my liking.  I use a 12 to 15 second rule.

 Smooth flood icing

Now, I will confess that the secret to perfecting icing consistency is practice.  If you look at any of my early cookies you can tell that I wasn't quite there yet.  2 years later, I still don't get it perfect all the time.



So get in that kitchen and start your alchemy!  A little drop here, a little drop there.  Be patient and experiment and see what your icing will do for you!

18 comments:

Mighty Morgan said...

Love your cookies, they are stunning!! Thanks for the tutorial. I'm such a newbie when it comes to royal icing...so what I keep discovering is that consistency is the key to absolute success or total FAIL....I've had more fail then not :) But I love visuals like this so that I can build upon my knowledge!! Thank you!!!

Paula said...

Great tutorial Ali. My favourite part *go back and watch the movie* LOL

Seriously, I find it very interesting that you flood from a piping bag and not a squeeze bottle but it does make a lot of sense...especially on the clean up part of decorating cookies.

lizy b said...

So true! I think I spend just as much time mixing colors and achieving the perfect consistency as I do decorating! And don't you just love when a batch comes out great! It seems like everything just looks that much better! Thanks for a great post, those hats are amazing!

SweetSugarBelle said...

Ha, the things we could do in the time we spend mixing icing, LOL!

Alison said...

haha! i hear ya! i wish i had icing elves...

Julie @White Lights on Wednesday said...

Oh my goodness. The ladies in hats cookies completely remind me a quilt my grandmother gave me (in the best possible way.) Thanks for the tutorials. I'm a novice royal icing cookie decorator and I can use all the help I can get. :)

Bea @ CancunCOOKIES said...

Please send the elves to Cancun!!! Great post, Alison!

MoonglitzBrenda said...

No tips for flood icing, brilliant!! Thanks for that tip or no tip. ha ha
Oh, and love the sweet little voice in the background.

Sweet Atelier said...

Sorry for my questions.
Can you tell us what are the 4 consistencies RI you use?
thanks.

The Cookie Cutter said...

Great tutorial, thanks Ali!

My Cookie Kitchen said...

Hey, Ali! I am looking on your site for a recipe to follow to make the "master" icing that the other icings are derived from. Can you post it somewhere? I am in great need! Thanks!

Alison said...

the consistency of icing that I regularly use is piping, flood, decorating (which is very thick, for making flowers etc), very wet (for doing wet work, my normal flood icing makes wet on wet work more difficult)and semi-piping (which is somewhere between piping and flood)

I plan to post my icing recipe in the very near future. However it is very close to Antonia74's royal icing recipe. Type it in google and it should come right up.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand what the secret is or why you would "hold out" on us. If I wanted Antonio's, I would google it. I wanted to know what you used, even though you don't have to tell us, you have built a "career" on this website of advising us on what to do. Come on, spill! We aren't going into business or trying to take your thunder. We just want to learn! Isn't that what your blog is all about? Teaching and learning?

Alison said...

Anonymous, I am sorry you feel this way. I have no intention on "holding out" on anything. I have promised that I will post the recipe I use in the near future. The only reason I have not posted the recipe yet, is because it accompanies a video tutorial that I have not finished editing. I have not fear of any "thunder" being stolen. I just wanted to make sure I presented the recipe in the best possible fashion for my readers.

beach peach said...

hmmm I read this yesterday and it stuck in my head all day. I just have to say Thank You to Ali for all the inspiration she gives and all the countless hours she spends helping us and sharing her talents.

Seems to me it's well above and beyond what you normally can hope for anyone to share and we should all be grateful and respectful of her dedication. I understand the written word sometimes isn't interpreted as we intend but as a newbie sucking up info like a funnel cloud... I am one happy baker to have found people like Ali and others who post their secrets.
Oh and... anything worth sayin... is worth signing.

Just saying...... ;o)

Becky Higginbotham said...

I'm a little late coming to the party, but I have started adding the lemon juice right into the spray bottle instead of water. Works like a charm. Is there any info out there that says I shouldn't do that. It's a real time saver.Would appreciate any info. Thanks alot, Becky Higginbotham

Alison said...

Becky, I don't see why not! :) Your icing will probably take on a lemon flavor of course but there is nothing that I know of that would make me think this shouldn't work just fine :)

Amanda Moutos said...

Your work is so amazing. I have never eaten a sugar cookie that had royal icing on it. I've always been a buttercream fan. Obviously, you can't make beauties like these with buttercream...or at least nothing that would keep from smushing. My question is whether royal icing sacrifices taste and texture for beauty? If I were to bite into one, would it crack and be crunchy?

 

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