Thursday, 2 May 2013

How to Use and Abuse Royal Icing, and Wholemeal Gingerbread (Wheat Free)

Recently, I’ve been going through a biscuit phase: for months, I’ve been making loads of different kinds of cake, but as of late I’m feeling the biscuits vibe a bit more. First, I made the dinosaur Kimberleys, which sent me down the road to Gingerbreadville, and then for a friend’s birthday I made some vanilla and chocolate shortbread biscuits that were decorated with royal icing in pretty pastel shades (I unfortunately don’t have photos of these ones: my camera ran out of battery). I first tried royal icing flooding a few years back and I was a little disappointed, but this time round – even after years of not practising – they turned out ninety-percent perfectly. Maybe I was suffering from a case of too-many-mind at the time.

One thing I will say, though, is the exact consistency for flood icing is somewhat elusive and tricky to explain to people; it’s something you just kind of work out one day and know thereafter. The following is the recipe I find works quite well. Obviously, atmospheric factors will affect the consistency and drying speed of your royal icing: humidity, heat, et cetera. Keep an eye on the old barometer, if you have one.

  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 7 ounces (200 grammes) icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or water if you don’t like lemon juice.

  • Beat the egg whites and lemon juice together until foamy and no longer liquid.
  • While still beating, gradually add in the icing sugar in three additions.
  • Beat the icing for a minute or two until the right consistency is reached. Soft peaks is a little too far, but if you reach soft peaks stage just add a few drops of water and beat in gently.

This icing colours well, but bear in mind that the colour will get deeper as the icing dries, so bear that in mind when you tint your raw icing: what you thought was a nice delicate pink might end up being neon once dry. As for the flooding technique, there’re billions of videos online for methods; from piping to painting on with a paintbrush, all the bases are covered.

And if you’re here for the gingerbread, you won’t be disappointed. Check out this recipe for the method; the only thing that’s different is the ingredients.

  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) butter, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ ounce (15 grammes) golden syrup
  • 1 ounce  (30 grammes) cornflour
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 ounce  (30 grammes) white spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt 
These biscuits have a nice, vintage kind of feel to them: feathered icing conjures up images of a North English grandma’s biscuit barrel... it does it me, anyway. In my oft-mentioned Sweet Success book, there’s a recipe for feather iced buns, maybe that’s why. It’s a very simple technique that yields very tastefully pretty results.

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