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Royal Icing Dilemma

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Here I am, at the beginning of my annual holiday cookie marathon that continues through New Year's Eve. I make tons of elaborately decorated cookies to give as gifts.
My problem is how to maintain that lovely glossy look of the royal icing after it's dried on the cookie. Here is my recipe:

1 ounce meringue powder
1 pound 10X sugar
1/4-1/3 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine meringue powder in mixer bowl fitted with whip attachment. Add water and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat in lemon juice.

I was originally trained to make Royal by slowly adding the 10X sugar to fresh eggs whites and beating with a paddle at medium speed until all the sugar is encorporated. I always got a beautiful, glossy and elastic frosting suitable for piping fancy stand-alone arabesques, cages and what-not.

Now that using powdered egg white is considered preferable due to food-borne illness concerns, I always end up with a dull and brittle product when finally dry. I've experimented with adding corn syrup (never dried, looked dull anyway), glycerin (no difference) and glucose (improved elasticity, but still dull, no gloss).

What do you other pastry chefs suggest? Is it an ingredient problem or a process problem?

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #2 of 23
The only time I ever run into problems with dull royal is when there's too much liquid in it. I use royal icing mix, which is essentially egg white powder with 10x sugar. All I do is add water, and beat with a paddle until it's white. Don't incorporate too much air; that may dull your icing too.

Corn syrup can help, with stringwork, but it sounds like you added too much, if it never dried.
post #3 of 23
I don't use royal for any large decorated areas, I don't care for the texture or the lack of taste.

When I decorate cookies I use simple frosting with emulsion flavoring to match the cookie flavor. You can do everything with simple frosting you can with royal. The only real difference is the holding time. But if you keep you simple frosting thick enough it will dry nicely (well enough to stack) and last out of the cooler for a week. If I want raised detail I use royal on top of my simple frosting.


Angry uses fondant to frost cookies. She says they dry nicely and she stacks them with-out problems.

Anyway you approach your decorated cookies, you should have planned to do that step last anyway. So hold time out of the freezer is minimalized for taste. Then it doesn't matter which frosting you use...
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #4 of 23
I love the look of iced cookies. In magazines and books they always look wonderful, with glossy and even icing. The few times I tried I could never get the same beautiful look. I make two batches of icing, a thick one to put around the cookie and a thinner one to fill in the desired areas. They never look as pretty.


Is there a secret to make beautiful iced cookies?
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #5 of 23
That technique is fine. Make sure that the icing that goes on the outside is thick enough to hold in the piping on the inside. As long as you have a steady hand and clean lines to begin with, they will look smashing!
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure what you mean by a simple frosting, W. deBord. Do you mean something like the creamed butter, 10x sugar kind of frosting? Thanks for your tips, but its hard for me to describe what I do unless you can see them in a photo. They are very elaborate. Take a look at the cookies in December's Redbook magazine. Those are mine, but the decoration is drasticly simplified so the average reader can do it.
I make them with a royal base, then lots of marbeling, painting, overpiping, sanding sugar, silver and gold micro-dragees and edible glitter. The cookie is the part with lots of flavor-the decoration is for eye appeal only. I also paint the royal onto the cookie with a brush for my birds to simulate feathers.
I could try the fondant, but I'm cheap and lazy. Too cheap to buy it, too lazy to make it-unless there is no way to maintain the gloss in the royal icing. I've only worked poured or rolled fondant. Is there something that has a texture that will maintain a thin line without running and has a nice gloss?
I think you're right, Momoreg about beating air into it. I made my last batch with the paddle and mixed only until smooth, not fluffy (as the Martha directs). Much better results, but not as glossy as when I use fresh egg whites.
:(
I'll be testing with a photographer for some good shots very soon. I'll post a link for you to see as soon as I can.
Thanks everyone for your suggestions!

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
post #7 of 23
Hmmm... I wonder what would happen if you make a thick solution with egg white powder and water. Wonder if it would dry to a gloss...
post #8 of 23
Might be the right technic Momo but my cookies never look as good as they do in magazines. I'll try one more time but if they don't look good I'll give up and get rid of my cookie cutter collection and will concentrate on tastier but less pretty cookies.
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
Reply
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #9 of 23
May I suggest, before you throw in the towel, that you buy the mix that I mentioned before? It is not any more 'artificial' than what you're using, plus it is safe, and the results are practically foolproof.
post #10 of 23
Footnote I always get all the seasonal magazines for decorating ideas. Is that really your work? That's auesome! What a cool job!


Simple frosting is xxxsugar thinned with either milk, half and half or heavy cream and extract to flavor (some people use water in place of the dairy). I use heavy cream xxxsugar and lemon emulsion with plain shortbread cookies. I just add enough liquid to get the consistancy I want in the amount of sugar I have. I try to keep it as thick as possible (because that looks best) yet thin enough that it spreads nicely.

I use a spatula to spread it (even when using multi. colors) then go back and outline my image or do any detail work piping. You can pipe the whole design on, but that takes alot more time.

Ever watch Martha demo her cookies on tv? After she pipes the borders she goes back with thinned out royal and pipes to fill. Then she uses a toothpick to smooth out her piped flood work (I thought that was suprising). That's very time consuming. BUT that's how she gets her thick flood work look, using thicker royal then most of us would normally use and a toothpick to smooth.

How much I whip my whites determines whether my royal dries glossy vs dull. I agree with not over mixing! In fact, the royal I make using fresh whites I put my sugar and tartar in from the beginning and just mix to combine. When is more fluid it's shinier but can't make any 3-d work it falls flat, then when you whip it more it becomes stiffer for glueing and detail work and way more dull because of the air incorporated.

I've always use real whites for my royal. I tried to use the meringue mix once or twice and didn't have any success. I did notice Marthas' recipe using meringue mix and thought I'll give it a try next time...
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #11 of 23
Oops, I'm sorry I spelled your name wrong.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
That's OK, W.
Yes, that is my job. I am a food stylist who prepares food to be photographed, filmed or video-taped. I love my work. I always say that if I won the lottery today, I'd still pursue the same career path I'm on right now.
You'll see my work in many food magazines-including those "unnamed" pastry magazines you guys are fond of. (*&%%$#^(*(&**& ###!!!!! them & Lord save me). My specialty is pastry, but will style just about anything. (I haven't had the pleasure of styling eels, nor would I want to).
Thanks for all the tips.
By the way, all current literature suggests not using fresh egg whites for royal (hence, my dilemma) as salmonella is epidemic in all chickens. I don't know how to heat royal icing to above 140? and still have a glossy, spreadable, elastic icing-so I keep experimenting, hoping to find the key. If I do, you will be the first to know!

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
That's OK, W.
Yes, that is my job. I am a food stylist who prepares food to be photographed, filmed or video-taped. I love my work. I always say that if I won the lottery today, I'd still pursue the same career path I'm on right now.
You'll see my work in many food magazines-including those "unnamed" pastry magazines you guys are fond of. (*&%%$#^(*(&**& ###!!!!! them & Lord save me). My specialty is pastry, but will style just about anything.
Thanks for all the tips.
By the way, all current literature suggests not using fresh egg whites for royal (hence, my dilemma) as salmonella is epidemic in all chickens. I don't know how to heat royal icing to above 140? and still have a glossy, spreadable, elastic icing-so I keep experimenting, hoping to find the key. If I do, you will be the first to know!

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply

www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

Reply
post #14 of 23
Wow, your lucky, smart and talented! I'm totally beyond jealous!!

Yep those raw white worry me too, that's another reason why I limit my use.... just haven't figured out how to totally avoid them. I'd love to hear from you when you find the solution. It would be very helpful!
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #15 of 23
Okay what about pasturized egg whites?????
Just Ducky!!!
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Just Ducky!!!
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post #16 of 23
I'm using egg white powder, water and icing sugar to make the icing Momo. Is this what you mean? Or just use powdered egg white and water?




At the newsstand this afternoon I could not find Redbook. WIll it be possible to see your pictures online Foodnfoto?
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #17 of 23
No, I'm referring to royal icing mix. It's the same concept, but with this, all you do is add water and beat in water with a paddle. It always comes out glossy and white!
post #18 of 23
I've never seen a royal icing mix in the grocery. Could you please tell me who manufacture this product?


Thanks!
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
Reply
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
Reply
post #19 of 23
You can buy royal icing mix thru Wilton or any of the stores carrying their products.

Have you bought it thru any larger bakery suppliers Momoreg? I haven't noticed it in anyones catalogs.
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
Reply
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #20 of 23
I've ordered it wholesale through CK Products (Indiana, I believe) in 10# boxes, and retail through NY Cake and Baking, in 3 oz bags. Tell me if you need phone numbers.
post #21 of 23
Thank you!


If it is Wilton I can find it in town. :)
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
Reply
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
Reply
post #22 of 23

Go with the pasturized whites in your dairy case

They are safe and will yeild you the lovely shine you are missing. something is lost in the translation with the powder........
That is my best advice.
Or you could use the powder and use food shalac to finish when dried.
bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
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bake first, ask questions later.
Oooh food, my favorite!


Professor Pastry Artswww.collin.edu
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post #23 of 23
snakelady took the words right out of my mouth.
panini royale
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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