How to Make Royal Icing from Scratch

make royal icingRoyal icing is mainly known as the icing used to decorate cookies. Its smooth, pure- white icing dries down to a hard, matte finish, which is frequently used to make cake decorations that will last for a long time. Its hardness makes it popular for baked goodies that need to be packed and shipped, without having to fear that the decoration will arrive to the recipient smeared or smashed into pieces.

This icing is popular because it is frequently used to create intricate and delicate pipings for your cake decorations through the use of piping bags and nozzles. You can turn the icing into rosettes, swirls, and lines just by using different piping nozzles. Its pure white color makes it great for coloring. Just add food coloring to turn it into any shade you please.

A fluffier consistency of royal icing can also be spread onto cakes as frosting. It can be thickened, which is great for writing down names and greetings on cakes.  Or you can thin it out to frost large areas of your cake with color. This icing is made from lightly-beaten egg whites and confectioners’ sugar, added with a bit of vinegar, or cream of tartar, or lemon juice. Other recipes to make royal icing call for meringue powder instead of the raw egg whites.

Recipe 1 (egg whites)

What You Will Need:

  • 2 egg whites, large
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted

What You Have to Do:

  1. In a mixing bowl, put together the egg whites and the lemon juice, and then beat it.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat using a low speed setting until you reach a smooth consistency. If you feel that the icing is too thick to use, you may add more egg whites; if it’s too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar.
  3. If you are going to use royal icing as a piping for cake decorating, continue to mix it until soft peaks begin to form.
  4. Stuff a piping bag with the royal icing. If you don’t have one, put the icing in a Ziploc bag and snip off just a little of the corners. This will make the icing lines thinner and more manageable to use.
  5. Royal icing needs to be used immediately. If you’re not going to use it right away, store it in an airtight container because it hardens when exposed to air.

Important Note

Since the icing is not going to be cooked, there is a risk of contracting salmonella poisoning because of the uncooked egg whites. If a pregnant woman, children, and elderly are going to eat cakes or pastries that contain royal icing, it would be better to use pasteurized eggs, or to substitute the egg whites with meringue powder. Meringue powder is a finely milled white powder made of dried egg whites and cornstarch. Here’s another recipe to make royal icing using meringue powder instead of egg whites.

Recipe 2 (meringue powder)

What You Will Need:

  • 2 tablespoons of meringue powder
  • 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

What You Have to Do:

  1. In a mixing bowl, beat together the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder.
  2. Add some the water and continue to beat using a medium to high speed until stiff peaks begin forming in the mixture.
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