AngelWendy Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 7:47am
post #1 of

I had such an awful time today trying to make my royal icing for my cake decorating class! I was ready to rip my hair out because of the difficulties I was having! I made the stiff royal icing without a problem, but we had to also make a lot of medium consistency royal icing. The course book didn't tell us how much water to add to thin it down and our teacher had not mentioned that either. I added a tablespoon of water, which is less than I'd add to 5 cups of buttercream to thin it, but of course it was far too much and I got a soupy mess!

I started adding small amounts of confectioner's sugar to try to thicken it back up. I added more and more and it was still soupy. I finally added a bunch more c. sugar and it seemed ok, so I whipped it another 5 minutes. I ended up with a lot of air bubbles in it. This was a bit more stiff than the original stiff I'd made, but I figured it would be easier to thin down in class than to thicken so I left it like that.

I mixed the colorings in, but it was so stiff that my hand was throbbing with pain from mixing it! Well, done with that I had to start cleaning up.. and all the little tiny bits of royal that had dropped were of course flaking everywhere. The icing that had spattered on the mixer were glued there and had to be melted off with water. What a mess! Oh and I should mention here that my Kitchenaid mixer is extremely LOUD! It has a very bad grinding sound on every setting that makes it sound like it's ready to quit. I got it a couple years ago from eBay as a factory refurb., but I am not sure it will make it through too many more batches of frosting, let alone any more bread kneading. Grah!!!

The ranting continues.. because the day kept getting worse.. --> So I got to class late and my icing still wasn't right. The teacher thought it would be ok, but when I tried to use it for the daffodils, I couldn't squeeze any out the tip 3, let alone tip 1. I tried and tried! My hand was throbbing in pain and it wasn't working at all! Finally I had to take it all out, splitting the bag in the process, and add more water and mix it up again. By the time I finally got the bags filled with anything usable, the class was two flowers beyond that.

All my frosting needed to be thinned and then of course I was rushing and added a few drops too much water. Yup, I'd overthinned it and had almost unusably thin soupy frosting again. Ugh! I split three bags trying to get this all done and then.. THEN I ran out of couplers! I had eight of them going, but that wasn't enough. I had also tried to prepare ahead of time and had five bags prepared with couplers in them already, but it wasn't enough. We needed 10 or so tonight! The other couplers were in bags from last week still with royal icing in them, so that was just a joyous time suck to get them out and use those.

I couldn't do the daffodils at all because of the overly stiff frosting preventing me from squeezing out the center bell part, and the teacher was demo'ing the primrose before I could even start the pansy. I did finally manage to do some pansies, some primroses, and some daffodils before class was over, though, once I got my frosting (mostly) working and filled into bags with couplers. I was very frustrated and annoyed and ready to give up, though. I didn't, but I was really having a hard time. I had bits of frosting everywhere, too, including in my hair and on my shirt and all over the towel I was using on the table.

So I finally clean up and pack up and get home, only to find that I have to throw out two trays (flower formers) full of handmade hard earned flowers becuase they were squished in the box from being on top of each other before they had dried enough. The humidity from the freezing rain we're having tonight wasn't helping with that at all and probably was causing difficulty getting the consistency right, as well, but it was still horribly annoying!

I needed to share this here because who else is going to understand how annoying it is when your royal icing isn't the right consistency, you run out of couplers, your hand is hurting from stirring coloring into stiff frosting, when the bags start splitting repeatedly, and those stupid bits of royal icing that get everywhere?!

I had a very hard day in the world of cake decorating. It just sucked! And of course I have to make more flowers for my final cake next week. Sigh.

Thanks for listening, if anyone did..
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19 replies
tanyascakes Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 7:59am
post #2 of

Oh, Angel. I am listening to you all the way. I have never taken any of the wilton classes. And I tried to teach myself. It took forever getting the consistencies right. And I am constantly remaking royal icing because of thinning down too much. And I can tell you now, I have yet to be able to make any usable daffodils, pansies, or primroses. I just truly got to where I can make the roses without scrapping the 1st few dozen. We all have the bad days. So know that we can all understand the frustration you felt. Good thing we have this site and each other to let it all go. Just breathe and I am sure that things will get better. Take care of yourself!
~Tanya~

AngelWendy Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 8:05am
post #3 of

Thanks, Tanya! I asked the teacher how much water we needed to thin it properly and she told me it was literally just a few drops. Well, I'd never have guessed that! I wish the book had said that or that she'd mentioned it before. Oh well! Thank you for letting me know you empathize! icon_smile.gif

I just realized I didn't sign my post.. Oops!

Blessings,
~AngelWendy

AngelWendy Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 8:09am
post #4 of

I want to add that my fiance' was very sweet and supportive and when I complained about my hand aching tonight he gave me a nice hand and arm massage. I couldn't believe how sore I was! The massage did help, though. icon_smile.gif

~AngelWendy

AngelWendy Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 8:10am
post #5 of

So I guess, what might help me is to find out -

What tips or tricks do any of you have for working with royal icing?

What makes it easier to use?

How do you know exactly how much water to add?

Thanks!
~AngelWendy

tanyascakes Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 8:26am
post #6 of

I think that was so sweet that your fiance was so supportive of you. I think that it just takes time to learn how it works for you. I know that I can never do the same thing twice. Sometimes the same amount of water won't make it come out the same way. The weather has a lot to do with it, too. But you will find your way. We all have our little quirks to make things work out for us. Just be happy with what you have accomplished. You are doing great!!
~Tanya~

tcturtleshell Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 4:12pm
post #7 of

AngelWendy~

Did you forget about the cornstarch tip I gave? That will thicken the royal icing up & does not do anything to the taste. Just start out using a teaspoon at a time. You will know when it is thick enough. When you thin our royal icing just put your spatual under running water or dip it in a bowl of water. Let the water run off your spatula into the icing. You don't need to measure it. The spatula doesn't give you much water so it does better. A t. is sometimes too much.

Another tip... Just make all your royal icing thick & thin it in class. Make sure you have cornstarch on hand. Do not color or put your icing in bags till you get to your class. By putting it in bags it makes it a little thinner. Wait till you get to class. Get to class 20 min early so you can be ready for everything. Being early will help you get caught up.

Another tip... Tell the teacher to slow down! Your paying good money to go to these classes. Have the teacher come to you & show you one on one how to do the flowers. She will be glad to help you. IF not then she isn't there to teach!

If you have any other questions I'll be happy to help you. ~TC~

AngelWendy Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 6:18pm
post #8 of

Hi TCTurtleshell!

Nope, didn't forget your tip on cornstarch, but didn't get that til I was home last night after I wrote the rant. I didn't know putting it in bags made it thinner. I don't think the teacher does either because it's happened to all of us each time, but she says it's the warmth in the classroom. The room doesn't feel that warm to me. Why does putting in in plastic thin it down?

The teacher did seem to be going reasonably slowly, but I was just having so much trouble getting my frosting to work and then getting couplers and filling the bags that I got behind. I had to empty old bags to get a coupler out I could use. Anyhow, when I did ask her to show me a flower again she did that on my flower nail so that was fine. I did get up to watch each of the demos, too. I just couldn't get my act together very well til the very end. I needed help figuring out how much water to add and then could have used help with getting the old couplers out of bags. Is there a trick to this? With the buttercream you can just squeeze above the coupler and the grease helps it slide out, but that doesn't work with the royal.

Hugs,
~AngelWendy

m0use Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 6:40pm
post #9 of

Do you use disposable bags or the regular bags?
I bet hot running water would help.

AngelWendy Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 6:58pm

I've been using disposable plastic ones. I have several re-usable featherweight ones, but haven't tried them yet. Which do you prefer?

Yes, I think maybe going to the sink and using water would have helped get them out. Oops.

~AngelWendy

Mchelle Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 7:03pm

I like the disposable bags. I can just throw them away, after I remove the tips (ask me how I know). Less to clean up. Although, I like the featherweight ones for large batches, no re-filling the bag) icon_lol.gif

cakeconfections Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 7:03pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngelWendy

I've been using disposable plastic ones. I have several re-usable featherweight ones, but haven't tried them yet. Which do you prefer?

Yes, I think maybe going to the sink and using water would have helped get them out. Oops.

~AngelWendy




I dont recommend using reusable bags. If there is any kind of grease left in them it will cause your icing to break down. I would either use disposables or parchment.

m0use Posted 29 Mar 2005 , 7:21pm

I only use the reusable for my icing tip when I am icing a cake. Other than that- I use disposable- much more sanitary.
To get my tips and couplers this is what I do:
1) Squeeze out excess frosting not needed into the garbage or into a plastic container to save
2) I then cut the bag off no more than an inch about the top of the coupler
3) Then make a small snip into the side of the bag up into the coupler area
3) Take the cut and tear it apart
3) Then push or pull the coupler out if needed
Voila! Your done thumbs_up.gif
**Sometimes this is a little more difficult to do with buttercream, but it still works.

tcturtleshell Posted 30 Mar 2005 , 3:46am

I think just letting it sit will thin it. Each time I re-use the royal icing I have to thicken it up. Do you put saran wrap on top of it before you put the lid on it? Your supposed to do that with color flow but I do it with royal too.

Unless you have the icing sitting on a heater or near a heater or stove or in the sun it won't thin it. Now hot hands will. Do you have hot hands?
When I do royal icing I use parchment bags. They are a pain in the rear to refill but I have more control when I use them. My hands just slip all over the plastic bags when I'm making flowers. Now I do use plastic bags for all other decorations. I even use feather weight bags. I save money on the plastic bags because I wash them out really good & reuse them! Some people don't do that but I figure if I use plenty of hot water, soap & scrub real good then it's fine. Sometimes I can't reuse them because they get little holes in them. That brings me to another tip... If you get holes in your bags while your using them just put another bag on top of that one. Works like a charm~

Never use anything other then drops of water or A drop. It gets thin easily! I still get frustrated when I use royal icing. Sometimes it does take a while to get to the consistency I want~

Don't give up ok!! You'll get it & when you do you'll be a flower making fool!! LOL!!! Have fun~

AngelWendy Posted 30 Mar 2005 , 4:52am

Thanks for your ideas and support!

~AngelWendy

Cakeasyoulikeit Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 3:49am

I'll put my two cents in just for the fun of it. I use only the featherweight resusable bags. Can't stand the way the plastic ones feel...maybe it's a aquired feeling. Anyway, I have NEVER had a problem with icing breaking down in my bags. I clean them by rinsing as much as I can out with hot water, then turning them inside out and putting several drops of dish soap straight on them. I rub them between my hands until they are completely soapy and then rinse with hot water. Never had a problem. icon_smile.gif

tanyascakes Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 5:43am

Hi, Cakes. I do exactly the same thing. It gets them clean in no time flat. And there is never a hint of grease left on them.

flayvurdfun Posted 1 Apr 2005 , 11:51am

Ok tell me about the bags....a build up?? I havent bought any yet but really want to....but if they are going to be more of a problem then something else then I wont..... Its easy for you ladys to help change my mind!

tcturtleshell Posted 6 Apr 2005 , 1:53am

They have a build up of the grease in them. I fill up the sink with hot water & lots of dawn dishliquid & put my bags & my tips in it over night. Then in the morning I fill the sink up w/ more dawn & hot water & wash them good.

I use all the different piping bags. I use each one for different techiniques. I like them all.
~TC~

flayvurdfun Posted 6 Apr 2005 , 5:42am

Well I am totally out of bags right now...triangles everything...until I get to the BX this weekend...our BX here doesnt carry ANY cake decorating stuff, I have to go elsewhere to get it.....though yesterday I ended up using 2 ziplock bags in one to finish the baby bootie cakes, they worked ok...I actually got to use my couplers!

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