Wednesday 5 December 2012

Royal icing ~ a Beginners Guide Pt 3

"I'm no good a piping" ~ a beginners mantra

When new students start my Piping class inevitably one of the first things they say to me is " I hate piping " or " I can't pipe " or " My hand shakes when I pipe" and I in return say "It takes time, patience and practice".

I find if you only try to do some piping at the time of finishing a cake, your skill level probably won't be want you expect it to be. Even when you don't have a cake that you want to do piping on you should practice a little.

When starting anything with royal icing make sure you have everything you need around you, you know what royal icing is like, you stop for a few minutes and it's starts to dry.............

We're going to use a shell tube, now this is either #42, 43, or 44, but you could also pipe shells with plain tubes #1, 1.5, 2, 3 and bigger.

So when I start what do I have around me, I have:

a selection of tubes
Royal icing
piping bags (greaseproof paper or disposable)
liquid colours
palette knife
and most importantly a clean damp cloth

 * this list is endless depending on what your doing........

                                                                                                         selection of tools

Where to start, well lets start with your piping bag. As I'm very old, I mean old school I use greaseproof paper to make my bags. A word on bags you don't need a large bag to pipe round a cake, when a large bag is used you'll be inclined to fill it to the top, it's not necessary, a medium bag will do and only fill your bag to about half way.

Make your bag and cut about 1cm from the bottom and insert your tube, paddle your icing with your palette knife backwards and forwards to eradicate any air bubbles and then fill your bag.  Seal the bag and now your ready.....................

                                                                                          cut 1cm at the bottom of piping bag

insert tube

paddle the icing backwards and forwards to remove air bubbles

close bag by folding over corners on either side

fold over the top twice to seal in icing

I have a mantra that I give my students when they start piping, squeeze, stop , pull away and it's sometimes really funny in class when I hear the students mumbling under their breath, squeeze, stop, pull away, squeeze, stop pull away. I always suggest to everyone, practice on a board covered with sugarpaste/fondant as this gets you comfortable piping on the medium. 

the bottom line is what shell should look like, squeeze to the size  shell you want, stop squeezing, and then pull away

this is what usually happens, this happens when you lift the tube as you pull away, keep you tube straight as you pull away

Remember, practice.................

You can embellish your shells in a variety of ways, over pipe, add small sugar flowers, in fact   you can embellish your shells  anyway you like.


Other styles that you can pipe using a shell tube. Barrels, fleur-de-lys, chevrons and rope.

piped rope

To pipe ropes and barrels it's a matter of wrist action. The twisting action is achieved by just turning the wrist, not the hand. So for the rope it is just continually turning from the wrist.


To pipe barrels again it's the turning of the wrist but varying the size piped.


Chevrons are achieved by holding your tube at a slight angle and pipe a shell and then moving the tube down slightly and pipe the next shell at the opposite angle. continue until you achieve a chevron appearance.


To pipe a fleur-de-lys you pipe the centre shell first and pipe a shell at an angle either side.
I think that's enough to getting on with and alot to be practicing to do.

I found that it's wasn't so easy to take photos and pipe at the same time, so next time I'm going to get somebody else to take the pictures while I pipe and to be honest I'm not the best when it comes to doing things like taking photos anyway. 

I hope you have found this even a little bit helpful without me actually being there and saying, squeeze, stop, pull away!

Quick tip
Before I go a quick tip. I always make up lots of bags and have them ready, but how to store them without  getting them creased or slightly damaged. I store mine in an old Pringle tube. I store my small and medium bags and un-made larger bags and they're always ready and to hand.

I decorated my Pringle tube because everyone thought there was Pringles in the tube, not likely!!!

Next time I'll be showing you Brush Embroidery..............

Marcia xxx

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Royal icing ~ a Beginners Guide Pt 2

Royal's an individual thing

There are a few ways to make royal icing, some people add things like lemon juice, white vinegar and even glycerine, I personally do not add anything to my royal icing.
The only thing I would say is to make sure that if using  fresh eggs, it is recommended that you use pasteurised eggs.When using fresh eggs always ensure that you use eggs with the Lion mark, which will guarantee that the eggs are produced to a high standard of food safety. Eggs can carry bacteria such as salmonella, so a good hygiene practice is always advisable when handling eggs.
When I make large quantities of royal icing I use albumen as it works out cheaper than using a large quantity of eggs.

Recipe 1  (using albumen)                                            Recipe 2

Ingredients                                                                    Ingredients

15g dried albumen                                                        90g egg white
85ml cooled boiled water                                              (approx 3 medium eggs)*
455-500g icing sugar                                                    455-500g icing sugar

Reconstitute the albumen in water,                              Separate the egg whites the day before
following the instructions.                                             then cover and leave in the fridge. The egg
                                                                                     whites will strengthen overnight.

Beat the egg whites until it almost gets to the meringue stage and then after sifting the icing sugar, beat into the the beaten egg whites. This can take upto 10 minutes of continuous beating before you get to the consistency you want to achieve.

When you've finished beating together, keep covered with a clean damp cloth to prevent the icing from skinning over.

When I'm not using the icing I store covered with clingfilm in an airtight container. A word of caution, don't store your icing in the fridge as this tends to make the icing soft and a little unworkable. Instead store in cool dry cupboard. So now you have the recipe and how to make it give it a go...............

My first Royal iced Wedding Cake

Royal icing used to enhance a cake

In Part 3 we'll really get going................................

Marcia xxx


Friday 16 November 2012

Piping with Royal Icing ~ a Beginners Guide

I'm about to start something that scares me a little, because anyone who knows me knows I'm a complete technophobe and yet here I am preparing to start a blog on the different areas of Cake Decorating and Sugarcraft. I decided to start with piping skills as this is what I'm currently teaching at my local Community College. I thought it would be useful for my students to look back each week at what they learnt in class and then thought  why not do it so anyone else who was interested could join in too. So here goes!

Everyone admires beautiful Royal iced work. They ooh and ahh at the fine techniques used to create the wonderful pieces of work you see at exhibitions etc. Now every workman starts off with their tools and to start this guide I will show you some of the basic equipment you will need.

The equipment you will need to follow this guide is as follows:

Piping bags
Piping tubes/tips: 1, 2, 3, 42, 59,21 (I use PME nozzles)
Straight edge
Side scrapers
A variety of palette knives
Different sized paintbrushes
Small bowl for water
Egg whites or dried egg albumen
Icing sugar/confectioner's sugar
Food grade colours
Plastic bowls

This is not the be all and end of the equipment list, but this is what I will be using in my royal icing blogs over the next few weeks.
In each blog I will take through the basic stage of piping with royal icing. Each week I hope you'll build up your skills and gain confidence.

So I hope you'll come on this journey with me.

Marcia x