Actually making the royal icing was really easy, you need:
5 tablespoons of meringue powder (buy online)
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
180 ml of warm water
Note- this makes a lot of icing so if you don't have many cookies to decorate then half the quantities.
Firstly you need to whisk the meringue powder and the warm water for about 30 seconds, then add the cream of tartar and whisk for another 30 seconds. You can use a hand whisk but I was a tad lazy and used my mixer. Your mixture should start to froth up like this:
Next add all the icing sugar at once to your mixture, change the whisk for the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest setting for 10 minutes. If you have a cover for your mixer then definitely use it here or your kitchen will start to look very christmassy. After 10 minutes it should look like this:
Your icing is now ready to use, make sure that it is left covered by a damp cloth whilst it is not being used or it will get all crusty.
Royal icing is piped onto cookies so the key thing is to get the correct consistency. Sweetopia (http://sweetopia.net/) recommends a rule where you drag a knife across your icing and then count to see how long it takes for the surface of the icing to become smooth again. If it becomes smooth between 5-10 seconds then your icing is thick enough to outline your cookie. If your icing is too runny then mix in more icing sugar and if it is too thick add more water (drop by drop).
Tips from a first timer:
- once you have made your royal icing separate it into different pots straight away and colour it using gel food colouring. Don't get over excited like I did and mix your colours as you go along because this does not leave any time for air bubbles caught in the icing to come to the surface (they then pop whilst the icing is drying on your biscuit instead and leave a hole).
- Making your icing black is very difficult, I found that to turn the icing from grey to black required a lot of colouring which made the icing more runny. If you are planning to colour your icing black maybe add more icing sugar at the beginning in anticipation of this (mine was a bit messy to start with!)
- Have a square of damp kitchen towel to hand to wipe any excess icing off your icing tip between cookies and some toothpicks to correct mistakes. This saves searching through drawers with sticky hands whilst holding an icing bag!
- The thinner your icing tip is the neater your lines will be. If you only have one icing tip of each size make sure you assign the colour you will be using the most with the thinnest tip for outlining.
- Be organised - sort out all your piping bags and piping tips before you start icing any of your cookies or your kitchen will end up like this:
I'll share how I got along in the next post
Happy baking xxxx