Dug up some info: two sources
I enjoyed the history of Royal from the food timeline :
Royal icing descends from 18th century glace and sugar paste. Recipes for these confections present themselves under several names and and various permutations. Royal sugar sculpture elevates this substance to veritable works of art.
While recipes creating "royal icing" type coatings exist in 18th/19th century British & American cookbooks, the oldest print reference for a recipe with that title was published in 1896. Prior to this, our sources reveal this item was titled "Ornamental Icing."
Why the name?
None of our sources divulge this information. Our survey of historic American newspapers (Historic Newspapers/ProQuest, Americas Historic Newspapers/Readex) and cookbooks confirm the popularity of Royal Icing surged in the dawning decades of the 20th century. Curiously? We find no references to Royal Icing in the Times [London] historic database. Possibly this is an American appellation?
What is Royal icing?
"Royal Icing. The harding type of icing used for coating wedding, birthday and celebration cakes; it being almost an airtight casing, cakes coated with this type of icing will usually keep for a very long time. It consists of icing sugar and whites of eggs beaten together until they become almost as light and pliable as stiffly whipped cream. A little blue is sometimes added to give that expert whiteness, and acetic acid to haste its drying or hardening proces.."The Master Dictionary of Food & Cookery, Henry Smith [Philosophical Library:New York] 1951 (p. 204)
"Royal icing. An icing made from confectioners' sugar, egg whites or dried meringue powder, and a few drops of lemon juice, which dries to a rock-hard finish. Royal icing is used for long-lasting delicate cake decorations such as fine line piping and flowers. The icing can be tinted with food coloring. United States."
---The International Dictionary of Desserts, Pastries, and Confections, Carole Bloom [Hearst Books:New York] 1995 (p. 264-5)
"Royal icing, made with egg whites and icing sugar, is a completely different preparation to glace icing, used for coating marzipan-covered fruit cake and for adding piped decoration. Royal icing dries to a fairly hard consistency and it keeps for several months."
---Larousse Gastronomique, completely revised and updated [Clarkson Potter:New York] 2001 (p. 618) “.
Take the whites of 2 or 3 eggs, being very particular to remove every particle of yolk; place in a clean bowl; now stir in sufficient of the very finest pulverized sugar, to make a medium thick paste: now add 10 or 15 drips of citric acid (procure come dry citric acid at any drug store, and dissolve it in water); lemon juice may also b used, but the acid is best; this is to produce a gloss, also to whiten the icing; now with a fork or spoon beat this paste until it is very light and stiff, so stiff that when you take out the spoon the icing will stand up in drops: then it is done; do not add any more sugar after beginning to beat it, as it would make it very heavy. The object is to produce as stiff an aicing as possible, and at the same time to have it light and spongy. Fancy Cook."
---"Housekeeper's Department," Boston Daily, April 12, 1896 (p. 27) </>What are the differences/similarities between Royal icing and Buttercream frosting?
Royal Icing is traditionally made with egg whites, sugar, lemon juice. It produces a hard product well suited for decoration. Butter Cream recipes are all over the map. Original Butter Cream recipes featured sweet butter; subsequent recipes sometimes subsitituted synthetic shortenings. A few also included dairy cream. Butter Cream frostings produce a softer, moister covering condusive to conveying flavor rather than artistic decoration. <//>
The egg white factor:
We're not finding any titled "true butter cream" but we do find several examples with and without egg whites. We even found one with egg yolks! Early 20th century professional texts generally include egg white. Home cookbooks often omit this ingredient, esp. as the century progressed. It may help to compare Royal and Butter Cream icings published in professional texts:
Beat up well in an earthen bowl with wooden spatulas, 3 lbs. of icing sugar and 8 eggwhites. Add a few drops of aecetic acid, lemon juice or cream of tartar. When partly beaten the icing can be used for covering wedding cakes using a rather stiff icing for first coat and a softer icing for second coat so it can be spread nice and smooth. It will aquire a nice gloss if dried before the open oven door mouth. For decorating icing continue beating till icing stands up well and can be drawn to points. When icing is to be used for decorating with fine tubes the sugar best be sifted or some of the icing can be presssed thru a fine clean sieve. This icing dries quickly and must therefore be covered up with a damp cloth or a plaster of paris cover which is soaked in water. Add a little blueing to icing to make it look whiter."
---Practical Cake-Art, Fred Bauer [Fred Bauer:Chicago IL] 1923 (recipe no. 64)
Take from 3 to 4 egg whites of eggs to 1 lb. XXXX sugar and a pinch cream of tartar. Put in a cake mixer and beat until it stands up well. This icing is used for decorating fancy wedding and birthday cakes. Also all kinds of flowers. In making flowers with this icing it is best to run them on wax paper until dry, then remove them and place on the cakes."
---Master Cake Baker, Cleve Carney [Calumet Baking Powder Company:Chicago IL] 1927 (p. 83)
When were dried egg products introduced to Royal Icing?
Ready-to-spread packaged icings
The earliest reference we find in print to a commercial ready-to-spread (aka "just-add-water") frosting mix (in a USA source) is from 1948:
"In a new Virginia Dare product all ingredients except liquid for pink or white confectioner's frosting are assembled in eight-ounce jars. Add two and one-fourth tablespoons hot water to the contents. Stir and the icing is ready to spread. There is enough in one container to cover the top and sides of a large layer cake or twenty large cupcakes. The frostings are at Altman's, where each variety is 32 cents."
---"News of Food," New York Times, March 11, 1948 (p. 36)
This complete "ready-ready-to-spread" product packed in jars was announced the following year:
"Frostings Ready to Spread.
At another counter in the Gimbels epicure department a second demonstrator pries open a glass jar of pastel-hued icing and proffers a taste. The frosting on the cake that won grandma a "first" at the country fair could not have been better. One of the largest makers of syrups for soda fountains, the Penn Syrup Corporation, is using some of its products to make six ready-to-spread frostings--strawberry, orange, lemon, chocolate, mocha and white (vanilla-like). The fact no synthetic flavorings are used in the strawberry, orange and lemon icings explains their "true" fresh-fruit taste. As for the "feel" of all six kinds, it is free for grittiness, smooth as fondant. Whether these frostings are more like the cooked or uncooked type one does at home is a question. They share qualities of each. So far they are the only preparations of their kind available. The price is 29 cents for a jar that yields enough for the top and sides of an eight-inch cake or eighteen large or thirty small cup cakes. The trade name: E-Zee."
---"News of Foods: Hurried Cooks Get a 30-Second Pudding and a Ready Icing; Peaches are Pinked'," Jane Nickerson, New York Times, March 17, 1949 (p. 31). “
Another article : The title 'royal' was given to royal icing after being used on Queen Victoria's wedding cake in 1840. Francatelli, the Queen's famous French chef, published a book in l864 in which he describes how to ice a wedding cake with a mixture of egg whites, sugar and lemon juice beaten together. He wrote 'use this icing to mask the entire surface of the cake with a coating about a quarter of an inch thick'.
But, long before the above date this type of icing was in use. A cook, wrote in 1789, that she spread it over cakes with the aid of a board or a large feather! And then placed it in front of 'a great fire' to dry.
So we can see royal icing has been popular for many years. The simple ingredients, egg white and icing sugar create a dazzling icing, making it the perfect choice for wedding cakes. Dried egg whites can be used instead of fresh. Not only does this save having a surplus of egg yolks, but also the icing is whiter than icing made with fresh whites.
Begin by rinsing out bowls, wooden spoons,and beaters with boiling water. This simple but most important job is done to dissolve any grease which could be lingering on the surface of the tools. Grease and royal icing do not mix well!
Sift the icing sugar. It is a good idea to keep a small sieve especially for this job. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Discard any whites that contain even a small amount of yolk,as once again the fat in the yolk will prevent the whites from aerating.
If a food mixer is available,use when beating three or more whites. Smaller quantities are best made either with an electric hand whisk,or with a large wooden spoon(again kept especially for that purpose). Begin by beating the whites until they are quite stiff. How long this takes varies according to the tool used,and the number of egg whites.
Now start adding the sifted icing sugar, a tablespoonful at a time, beating well after each addition until the icing stands in peaks. To store, place in an airtight container,and cover with cling film, then place in the refrigerator.This type of icing will keep for weeks, but always remember that it needs re-beating again before use.
The consistency of the icing needs adjusting according to how it is being used. For instance,to 'flat ice'a wedding cake the icing should be the consistency of beaten double cream. If too stiff, add a few drops of water,too soft,then add icing sugar.
To prevent royal icing setting too hard one teaspoon of glycerine can be added to every pound of icing sugar used. When smooth icing a cake,use icing that is two or three days old. Freshly made icing may cause air bubbles to appear on the surface of the cake. Usually three thin layers of icing are needed,allowing each layer to dry before adding the next.
Icing used for piping decorations should be well beaten,and recently made otherwise it will not hold its shape. Do not use icing which has glycerine in it. Royal icing for Run-Outs (Colour flow) can be softened with either a few drops of water or egg white.
Use Royal icing instead of Glace Icing (icing sugar and water)for flooding over cakes. Softened down with egg white it is denser and whiter than Glace icing and gives better coverage.
Royal icing is also used when making Rock Sugar, which as the name suggests is a way of making lifelike edible rocks. It is made by adding royal icing into hot sugar syrup, the royal icing literally erupts and hardens into a volcanic-like substance.
So as you can see from the above descriptions, this is a very versatile icing. And most importantly, most people love the taste!
Pat Lock is a cake decorating expert with over 25 years experience who runs the excellent Cake Decorating Tips website. She has won awards at the prestigious international competition at Hotel Olympia, London and is also an accomplished author.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Pat_Lock