Using Royal Icing For Flowers..

Decorating By jenscreativity Updated 11 Mar 2011 , 9:37pm by Sassy74

jenscreativity Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 4:21am
post #1 of 20

Does anyone use Royal icing for flowers anymore? The reason I"m asking is because tonight, I made somewhat like apple blossoms to look like cherry blossoms and I had the most DAM difficult time trying to get my icing to be the exact consistency so it wouldn't look like a pile of blob when once I made the flower and it set. SO frustrated b/c I haven't made flowers with royal in soooo long and I don't remember it being this hard! My hand literally hurt so bad with having the icing soo thick,,yet I was lucky to get 5 flowers done..but would've loved to do more,,but it hurt so bad..So I sputtered water with my fingers little by little to loosen it up,,and then the flower turned into blob of icing again...ANy ideas? I used to make these no problem..I don't understand.>Sorry,,I had to get this out!

Thanks

19 replies
indydebi Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 12:14pm
post #2 of 20

I've never used RI for anything pertaining to cake (cookies, yes, but not cakes).

I'm basically a lazy person and just couldn't figure out why someone would make two different kinds of icing when good 'ole buttercream would do it all! writing, flowers, borders, roses, string work, and so on and so on.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss .... I never knew that one was "supposed" to use RI, therefore I never did.

thallo Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 12:37pm
post #3 of 20

When you add the extra water to the royal icing, you need to stir it in really well. When you make a fresh batch of RI you need to mix it for about 10 minutes or it will make those blobs that are not so pretty. It will look fine and feel fine until you have made the flower - and then it is too late to stir it more.
Using royal icing for flowers has almost become a lost art, but it gives a much cleaner and crisper look than buttercream. That is why it looks so much better to pipe on fondant with RI. And although gum paste flowers and decorations are much more realistic looking, I like to put royal icing flowers on cakes that children will be eating. I also put them on cakes for functions at the nursing facility where my mother is a resident. While I could do a lot of the same flowers with buttercream, they just look better in RI and both of these groups of consumers seem to really enjoy them.

Baker_Rose Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 1:15pm
post #4 of 20

Well, I'll confess. I still make Royal Icing flowers. 20+ years ago when I was learning cake decorating that is what was taught. And today I don't have customers willing to pay for gum paste, so most of my gum paste flowers are used on family and gift cakes.

In my opinion I can whip out enough royal icing flowers in one day's work to use for 6 months. You can't do that with gum paste. AND, when I am serving a cake covered with them people LOVE to eat them. So I am always sure to add a little vanilla to the mix so they taste good.

I don't think you are beating your icing long enough. After I stop the mixer to check for consistency, I beat it with the paddle for several minutes to fluff it up a bit. This way it holds it's shape AND it pipes a lot like buttercream, without the hand fatigue that you are talking about.

A very long time ago, my Swiss Pastry Chef taught me to NEVER make royal icing with a whip attachment. The air that is whipped in makes the finished icing too brittle, and so I make it with the paddle and I do beat it, but not whip it. It's a good way to make it this way for gingerbread houses too.

Also, in my opinion there are just some flowers that are very difficult to make with buttercream and royal icing allows more flexibility. It's also nice to pull down that box of stored flowers when you are whipping though a cake and add some pretty color quickly with the flowers. Daisies are my most requested flower, then maybe daffodils and apple blossoms. Plus they are perfect for cupcakes or sheet cakes that are basic and scored for quick serving. The flower marks each piece so they are easy for a "lay-person" to cut and serve.

For anyone wanting to learn, all the old Wilton books are filled with royal icing flowers.

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all4cake Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 2:07pm
post #5 of 20

I still make ri flowers.

I was thinking that possibly, when mixing, it may have gotten beaten on too high of a speed which would give the initial look and feel of the right consistency but would result in the item puddling from excessive liquid in the mix. I mix on no more than 4 on the KA (mostly 2 or 3 for about 10-15 minutes...the lower the speed, the longer the beat time), using the paddle,beginning with the least amount of water suggested in your recipe. After about 5 minutes, check to see if it's looking dry and add water, if necessary. Check again toward the end of the mixing time. Each time water is added after the initial check time, be sure to extend mixing time a bit to be sure it's well incorporated.

Also, remember to have everything grease free ...mixer, mixer bowls, paddle, bags, couplers, tips,spoons, spatulas, and color mixing bowls


ETA: fill bag with only the amount that will fit comfortably in the palm of your hand...(over filling the bag does cause painful piping)

Marianna46 Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 2:27pm
post #6 of 20

Along with all the other good advice people have offered, I'd like to suggest that you may have gotten a smidgen of grease in your mix. It happened to me once, and the results were exactly what you describe: icing that was really hard to pipe because it was so thick, but which wouldn't set up. Fortunately, it happened with the RI I was taking to a Wilton Class, so my instructor set me straight. Ever since then, before I start making RI I rinse the bowl, the beaters and the container I'm going to store the icing in with a 50-50 white vinegar and water mixture (and then in plain water). I've never had the problem again! I don't make RI flowers very often, but it's true that you can make tons of them in a day and store them to use later on. I think maybe I should give myself a "flower day" sometime soon!

indydebi Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 3:10pm
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marianna46

I've never had the problem again! I don't make RI flowers very often, but it's true that you can make tons of them in a day and store them to use later on.


I would do this with BC flowers, too.

jenscreativity Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 3:46pm
post #8 of 20

You are all soooo wonderful on advices!! Thank you and yes, I did only whip but for like 10 min. ,,so I'll use paddle next time..I do like how you can store them for a long time too..and if you have a fast order, you can put something together quick..and make it look nice.

My hands are soooo sore today,,so I can't imagine trying this out again for while,,but when I do, I will use the paddle next time AND I will make it a flower day also!

Thanks to all! I feel better..icon_smile.gif

Marianna46 Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 4:10pm
post #9 of 20

Indydebi, I never thought of that. How do you store them?

all4cake Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 4:41pm
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marianna46

Indydebi, I never thought of that. How do you store them?




and how long can you store them before they go rancid?

indydebi Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 4:58pm
post #11 of 20

about 2-3 times a month, I'd take a day and make a supply of roses and drop flowers. Never had any that went "rancid" .... but my BC is a shortening recipe, not butter and maybe that makes a diff. My icing stores well for days/weeks and the flowers are made from the same stuff.

Placed all the flowers on my 18x24 baking sheets. Once they air-dried, I covered them in loose saran just to keep the dust off. Grab-n-go!

Over the years, I've used BC flowers that were, lets say "more than a few days" old. icon_smile.gif They store very well. No rancid or "old" taste.

It was just how I learned to decorate. I never knew any other way. The BC I used crusted well, held flower shapes well, stored well. I just never saw a need for an icing that was "sturdier" when this one worked fine, plus still maintained a creamy texture when the rose was eaten. thumbs_up.gif

all4cake Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 5:03pm
post #12 of 20

Would they be good stored for 6 months you think?

ETA: The reason I ask, is that sometimes, there's leftover icing and it may be a looooooong time before that color or flower gets requested again.

ShandraB Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 5:10pm
post #13 of 20

What a great idea for leftover icing! I don't know why I never thought of just using it up making flowers to have on hand for last minute things.

indydebi Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 5:14pm
post #14 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by all4cake

Would they be good stored for 6 months you think?

ETA: The reason I ask, is that sometimes, there's leftover icing and it may be a looooooong time before that color or flower gets requested again.


If I were going to hold flowers for 6 months, I would first let them air dry, then store them in a container in the freezer.

But air drying is key. Mold, rancid-ness, and all of the other yucky things are usually born from moisture. Air drying reduces that tremendously, not to mention makes the flowers really lightweight so they stay on the cake better.

all4cake Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 5:16pm
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Never had any that went "rancid" .... but my BC is a shortening recipe, not butter and maybe that makes a diff. My icing stores well for days/weeks and the flowers are made from the same stuff.




I was referring to a shortening-based buttercream ('cause everyone KNOWS that that's what you use icon_wink.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif ) and shortening has been known to go rancid from time to time. Sometimes, it can be bought off the store shelf with the old, rancid odor/taste to it.

I guess I was wanting to know, how long you've successfully held the pre-made, shortening-based, buttercream items?

all4cake Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 5:18pm
post #16 of 20

That makes sense...Thanks!

Unlimited Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 6:27pm
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by all4cake

Would they be good stored for 6 months you think?




Absolutely! (Qualifying the shortening-based BC recipe, of course.) There was a discussion not too long ago about the shelf life/expiration of Sam's BC stored at room temperatureit's between 6-8 months (before you need to consider getting it in the refrigerator)! Once air dried, without the moistureit won't mold. (So I'd say, air dried must last a lot longer than moist still stored in a bucket.)

If you have seen display dummies that are several years old, they'll look the same as fresh (minus possible dust or fading of certain colors in direct sunlight or under fluorescent lighting) and they don't smell rancid either.

I've "held" BC roses for 20 years that I thought I'd use on dummies... didn't think to taste them before I threw them out (nor would I want to), but they didn't smell rancid. Surprisingly, they didn't smell like the plastic container they were stored in either!

all4cake Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 6:39pm
post #18 of 20

We had one, on display for a few months...it definitely went 'bad'. Could be that it was in a case where moisture may have collected...it was a dry case, not a refrigerated one, with slight venting gaps...but maybe not enough airflow to maintain a dry state. As for the timeframe of the Sam's Club (Dawn brand) buttercream, it contains more preservatives, I'm sure than most shortening-based buttercreams made at home.

I can relate to your hesitation in consuming a 20 year old buttercream rose. Just curious, how did you come about holding onto buttercream roses for that long and where/how were they held?

Unlimited Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 7:26pm
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by all4cake

Just curious, how did you come about holding onto buttercream roses for that long and where/how were they held?




In a storage room in the basement in plastic containers.

Sassy74 Posted 11 Mar 2011 , 9:37pm
post #20 of 20

I still make RI flowers as well. I love to make a batch of RI and just sit down over a few evenings and pipe out a truckload of the little suckers. Let them dry, pop them into an airtight storage, and just like someone said before, pull out the tote and go to town when I make a cake that calls for flowers. HUGE time-saver, and people love the flowers!

Others have given you great advice regarding making your RI. Beat long enough, don't overfill your bag, etc. It really is trial and error, and you may have to fill a few bags, pipe a little, and start over if the consistency isn't right. Once you get it right, though, making the RI in the future will be easier because you'll know the right consistency.

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