Royal Icing Troubleshooting: Tips for Solving 8 Common Royal Icing Woes

Actions

Working with royal icing can be a pretty daunting task for even the most seasoned cake or cookie designer. We decorate hundreds of sugar cookies per month and are often asked to add sweet royal icing details to wedding cakes yet we still have the odd icing mishap now and then! Whether you're flooding bridal shower cookies, piping delicate Swiss dots to a birthday cake or adding glorious string work to a fancy wedding design, our royal icing troubleshooting advice is bound to help you out!

Follow along to help your piping dreams become a reality!

Essential Royal Icing Techniques for Stunning Sugar Cookies

Essential Royal Icing Techniques for Stunning Sugar Cookies

Use royal icing to create the most beautiful sugar cookies around!Get the FREE Guide »


Issue #1: Air bubbles

Pesky air bubbles can appear as if from nowhere when you're busy flooding your dainty cookies or they can cause a break in your string work.

Solution:

Try not to mix your royal icing so vigorously or on a high speed for too long, especially when preparing royal icing for string work. Instead, let it rest in a bowl with a damp cloth over it for at least 15 minutes before using. If you're flooding cookies, air bubbles can easily be popped once added and spread onto the cookie itself — simply pop them with the end of a cocktail stick!

Issue #2: Lumps & clogged tips

Lumps and bumps can appear in royal icing and can massively affect the look of your treats and the flow of your piping, too. This can easily lead to clogged tips and lots of frustration.

Solution:

Sift your confectioner's sugar thoroughly. Use a clean and brand-new pair of pantyhose to really sift out your powdered sugar if need be. Try different brands of sugar too — some may clump or cake up and some may be smooth and soft.

Issue #3: Dull

A lot of people like how their icing looks when they've just finished decorating a cookie because of that glistening shine the icing creates. Once it dries, however, it sets to a more matte look. 

Solution:

Try mixing in a little light corn syrup into your royal icing before decorating and leave it to dry. Always test this before the big day, though! You can also try painting or spraying your fully set cookies with confectioner's glaze, too.

Issue #4: Fragile

Sometimes royal icing can dry to a rather fragile, breakable or even porous texture. This is generally the crafty work of humidity — a pastry chef's worst nightmare.

Solution:

If you can, check your local humidity percentage to be prepared. We use an app on our iPads, but most good weather apps will show your humidity forecast. Try leaving your flooded cookies or royal icing details to set in a cool dry room away from any open windows. If all else fails, invest in a good dehumidifier!

Another issue could be overmixing your icing. This adds air into your mix, so try to cut down on your whisking time. 

Issue #5: Crooked

Piping outlines around cookies or intricate string work edging beautiful cakes can so easily be ruined by piping out crooked royal icing. Don't worry! It's most likely not your fault!

Solution:

Inspect piping tips before you buy or use them. A lot of tips are formed from a shape fused together which creates a seam along one side of the tip. It's this humble seam that forces your royal icing to pipe out crookedly. We recommend using PME supatube tips as these feature no unsightly seams at all. Hurrah!

Issue #6: Bleeding

Lots of color and pigmentation in royal icing can seep out of one section of icing and 'bleed' into the next. This is awful after spending hours upon hours decorating beautiful sugar cookies.

Solution:

Try leaving dark-colored royal icing to sit and rest for around 15-30 minutes under a damp cloth before use. This can help the color to settle. You can also begin by icing your dark color sections first and leaving them to fully set on their own for around 24 hours before adding lighter coloured details or flooding.

Bleeding can also happen from an added decoration such as colored sprinkles. It's definitely an annoyance, but if you group your sprinkles and nonpareils together, it can be less apparent.

Issue #7: Too thin

Royal icing that is too thin will appear more liquid-like, runny and even see-through when piped or flooded.

Solution:

Add more sifted powdered sugar a little at a time. Remember to add less water or lemon juice in the future.

Issue #8: Too stiff

Royal icing that is tough to pipe out or even stir can be an utter nightmare as it won't be so easy to work with. Plus, keep putting pressure on your piping bag and you'll end up with your icing bursting all over your work!

Solution:

Try adding a little bit of room-temperature water at a time before stirring. We use handy little travel spray bottles (these can be found in the beauty department for a few dollars a pop — make sure to buy the empty bottles) to spritz water into your mix for better control.

Always remember that the more you work at something, the better you'll become — plus you're bound to find some pretty nifty tricks, too! Royal icing is a fun medium once you give it try, so don't be scared. 

Essential Royal Icing Techniques for Stunning Sugar Cookies

Essential Royal Icing Techniques for Stunning Sugar Cookies

Use royal icing to create the most beautiful sugar cookies around!Get the FREE Guide »


More to Explore
Now Reading
Royal Icing Troubleshooting: Tips for Solving 8 Common Royal Icing Woes