In the world of baking, you’ll commonly come across all sorts of icings for use in decorating. You may be familiar with buttercream frosting, fondant, and even ganache, but what exactly is royal icing, and what makes it so special?
Royal Icing is a white icing that dries to a hard and matte finish. It is traditionally made from egg whites and icing sugar. Due to food safety reasons, many recipes omit the egg whites and use meringue powder instead. Regardless of the choice of stabilizer used, the combination makes royal icing an excellent bonding agent, which is why it is popularly used to hold gingerbread houses together.
Royal icing is great for piping details on cookies or cakes, and will hold its shape. If you’ve ever seen cookies that are decorated with a flat, smooth layer of icing on top, there’s a high probability that this was done with royal icing in a method known as flooding.
Flooding is a technique used to cover the top of cookies with icing. First, an outline is piped around the cookie using a regular consistency of royal icing. Once the outline dries, the icing is thinned down using water or milk to a flowy, flooding consistency, which is used to fill in the cookie. The outline acts like a dam, holding the liquid in place until it dries. This technique can be used to produce some extraordinary results. For the time being, I’ve stuck with fairly basic designs, like Pumpkin Sugar Cookies or Christmas Sugar Cookies, but even those can turn out quite well.
Below you can see my recipe for royal icing, and you can also download a printable copy of the Royal Icing Recipe. This recipe will yield enough icing for flooding about 20 medium-sized cookies. The recipe can also be doubled if you require more icing.
Royal Icing Recipe
- 2 ½ tbsp Meringue powder
- 3 oz Water
- ½ tsp Cream of tartar
- 4 cups Icing sugar
- A few drops Food coloring
- Whisk together the water and meringue powder until bubbly, about 30 seconds.
Add the cream of tartar and whisk for another 30 seconds.
- Add the icing sugar, and using an electric mixer, beat on low speed for 10 minutes.
Divide the icing into bowls to be colored. Use a few drops of food coloring to tint the icing to the desired shades.
- Use the icing for decorating cookies by transferring to a piping bag (or a sandwich bag with one corner cut off) and using it to pipe details onto the cookies.
Be sure to watch my YouTube video demonstrating how to make royal icing! You can find the video below!