Now that you’ve perfected your sugar cookies with this recipe and whipped up your royal icing with this recipe, it’s time to learn how to work with your icing! Surely, you’ve seen beautiful, decorated cookies and have probably wondered “How the heck do they make those?!” Well, you are not alone, and I remember when I was first learning, I wondered the same thing. It’s quite a leap going from spreading icing on cookies with a spatula to creating stunning, layered, works of art! The good news is that it’s all about your different royal icing consistencies! In this post, I will break it all down for you and you will be well on your way to creating beautiful cookies!
Royal Icing consistency types
First, there are a few main types of consistencies that you will use often to achieve the look you want. Let’s review these:
- Stiff: This type of icing is great for stenciling, or making flowers and leaves
- Piping: This type of icing is best for, you guessed it, piping and doing other detailed line work
- Flooding: This type of icing is used for flooding your cookies or doing what is called “wet-on-wet” work
Now, other cookiers may have additional royal icing consistencies they use, but honestly, I find I can do almost everything I need with these three consistencies. For example, some cookiers choose to use a consistency between piping and flooding to outline their cookies before flooding them. Personally, I don’t like to see a separate outline and prefer to have my cookies with a seamless flood, so I use my flooding consistency to outline and flood to achieve the seamless look. I prefer to use a consistency of about 12-15 seconds for this. My suggestion is to start with these consistencies and find what works best for you.
Much of the art of the consistencies is finding the feel that you like best. I know you hate to hear it, but it really does take practice and learning how the icing feels and behaves. But I promise you will learn with every set, and it will become much easier! You will find what works best for you too!
creating different Royal Icing consistencies
I bet I threw you for a loop with those references to different seconds, didn’t I?! HA! Again, when I started, I had no idea what that meant…am I supposed to be doing something for 10 seconds?! No, let me explain. When you have a bowl of icing and you cut it down the middle with a knife, the seconds refer to how long it takes for the icing to be smooth again. So, using my flooding example of 12-15 seconds, when I cut the icing down the middle of the bowl, it takes approximately 12-15 seconds to fill back in and be level. Using this timing method is a common way for you to know if you have the right consistency for the decorating you will be doing.
And how will you achieve these different consistencies? With a spray bottle of water! Using a spray bottle gives you the control you need so that you don’t end up adding too much water.
With your stirred icing, put some in a separate bowl since you may not want your entire batch of icing the same consistency. Note that you will want to color your icing BEFORE thinning! Since coloring can change the consistency of the icing, it is best to color BEFORE thinning so that you end up with exactly the consistency you want.
Next, start spraying the icing with the spray bottle water, stirring periodically and cutting it with a knife to count how thick/thin it is. Keep adding water until it is the consistency you want. Note that if you ever get it too thin or you’re trying to thicken your icing, just add powder sugar.
recommendation on next steps
Before you are able to start doing detailed work, you will need to master flooding your cookies. I suggest whipping up a batch of cookies that can be used for practice (and eaten by your family) and practicing outlining and flooding your cookies. Start with a 12-15 second consistency; outline and flood and see how that feels. You can adjust moving forward making it thicker or thinner based on what works best for you.
Once you master outlining and flooding, you can start making slightly thicker icing for pipping details, or experimenting with lettering. You may even want to keep a log as to which consistencies you end up liking for different types of decorating. It will become very personal to you as a decorator and what works for someone else might not work best for you.
THIS guide from Semi-Sweet Designs provides great visuals and details on achieving different consistencies!
THIS post all about tips on coloring your icing is very helpful as well. Believe it or not, it’s not as simple as just adding a drop or two of icing!
let me know how it goes!
You’re at an exciting learning step and it’s also one that takes some practice and finding what works best for you! Be patient, you will learn with every batch. And don’t hesitate to reach out if you need help or have questions! You cna always leave a comment, drop me an email or connect via our facebook group!
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