Basics #19: Royal Icing

I blinked and suddenly Christmas is around the corner. So on this last weekend before Christmas, I’ve been baking up a storm. Old (but trusted) recipes really, like my chocolate fruit cake, gingerbread men, log cake and mince pies.

Royal Icing

I love giving food gifts, but of course you’ll want them to last till Christmas. Most Christmas bakes are already geared for preservation, doused in alcohol, dried out and such. When it comes to an icing that will stand the test of time, it has to be royal icing.

It’s true when they say royal icing is the cement of the baking world. It’s wet at first, then dries solid.

This makes royal icing perfect for sealing in cakes, gluing together pieces for gingerbread houses and creating gravity-defying icicles, and piping work that can be packaged without damage.

There’s not much of a recipe actually, just a basic formula: for every egg white, use 250g of icing sugar. Beat until white and fluffy. I sometimes add a pinch of salt but it’s not absolutely necessary.

You can alter the consistency quite a bit with liquids such as lemon juice, vanilla extract, or even just plain water. Keep the icing thick for slathering on cakes. Thin it a little for piping work. And add even more liquid for “flooding” cookies, which just means letting a very liquidy icing run all over the cookie for a smooth finish.

A word of caution: go easy when adding liquid. A little goes a long way, so add a teaspoon or less at a time. If you overdo it, just add more icing sugar.

And as I said earlier, this stuff does dry out. While using it, make sure to cover the bowl with a damp towel. For storing in the fridge, press some plastic wrap down on it in an airtight container.

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