Learn how to make royal icing with this simple and easy step-by-step recipe. Royal icing is much easier to make than you may think. Perfect for big cakes!
Royal icing is made from icing sugar beaten with egg whites to make a smooth paste. It is used for covering wedding cakes and Christmas cakes and you can create either a smooth flat finish or a swirled peaked finish.
When the icing dries it becomes firm and hard, but for a slightly softer finish that is easier to cut you can add a little glycerine to the mixture. Once a fruit cake is covered in marzipan and royal icing it can be kept for years if stored in a cardboard box (not an airtight container) in a cool place.
Royal icing can be piped into dots, rosettes, swirls, loops and lines using different piping nozzles, and is also used for piping names and messages onto cakes. Allow the iced cake to dry and harden for 1-2 days before adding a piped decoration so that any mistakes can be easily scraped off. For piping do not add glycerine to the icing.
When colouring royal icing use gel pastes rather than liquid colourings, very sparingly as they are very strong, as they wonít change the consistency of the mixture. When working with royal icing keep it covered with a damp tea towel or cling film to prevent a crust forming. Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week. Before using, allow it to come to room temperature and stir well.
Always cover a rich fruit cake with marzipan before icing as this seals the moisture into the cake and will prevent the icing from staining.
If you donít want to use raw egg whites you can buy packs of royal icing sugar which you just mix with water following the packet instructions. This recipe makes enough icing to cover a 20cm round cake
Place the egg whites in a clean grease free bowl and whisk lightly with a fork.
Sift a little of the icing sugar into the bowl and beat well with a wooden spoon or electric mixer. Gradually beat in all the sugar to make a stiff icing.
Continue beating the icing with a wooden spoon, or electric whisk for 5-10 minutes to get a very smooth consistency that will hold itís shape. A knife will leave a clear road through the icing when it is the correct consistency. Add the glycerine and stir well to mix.
Spread the icing over a marzipan covered cake using a small palette knife or round bladed knife.
Make peaks on the top by lifting the knife upwards quickly and then decorate with some Christmas cake decorations.
Colour the icing, if liked, with gel paste colouring. Using a small plain piping nozzle, pipe a border around the edge of the biscuits and leave to set for 5 mins. Add enough water to the remaining royal icing to thin it to a thick pouring consistency and using a paper or plastic disposable piping bag with the end snipped off, flood the runny icing inside the border until the biscuit is covered. Leave to set.
Make peppermint creams
To make delicious peppermint creams just beat 1 egg white with the juice of 1/2 lemon, 450g icing sugar and 1tsp peppermint essence until the mixture forms a stiff paste. Colour pale green, if liked or leave the mixture white. Roll out on a work surface dusted with icing sugar and cut into circles with a small round biscuit cutter. Leave to set for 1-2 hours then dip or drizzle with melted chocolate.