Royal icing

Royal icing

By
From
Leiths How to Cook
Makes
enough to coat a 22–24 cm round cake
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500g icing sugar
2 egg whites
1-2 teaspoons glycerine, (see note)
1 teaspoon lemon juice, optional (see note)

Method

  1. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Put the egg whites into a separate, large bowl and, using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in a little of the icing sugar, about 3 tablespoons. Add the glycerine and the lemon juice, if using.
  2. Gradually mix in the remaining icing sugar until the mixture is soft and fluffy and will hold its shape; you may not need to incorporate all of it.
  3. Cover the surface of the icing with a clean, damp cloth to prevent it drying out, and place in the fridge overnight to allow any air bubbles to rise to the surface.

Note

  • For larger quantities than this, a wooden spoon can be hard work; use a hand-held electric whisk, but try to avoid incorporating too much air when mixing.

Royal icing consistency

  • A cake usually has 2 coats of icing applied after the marzipan, and is then decorated with either piping or ‘run in’ work. The consistency of the icing varies for each stage. For the first coating and piping, the icing should be very thick; a teaspoon should stand upright in the icing and the icing should stand up in points when the spoon is lifted out. For the second coat, the icing should be a bit thinner; points should flop over at the tip.

A note on adding glycerine...

  • Adding glycerine keeps the icing soft so that it doesn’t splinter when cut. Without it, royal icing becomes incredibly hard, but if you are eating the cake within 24 hours you don’t need to add it. You can add more glycerine to make an even softer icing, but the resulting icing will not be suitable for cakes that are going to be tiered.

A note on adding lemon juice...

  • It is not essential to add lemon juice to royal icing but it effectively seasons the sugar, so the icing tastes less sweet.
Tags:
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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