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Royal Icing Consistencies: How to Overcome this Royal Icing Hassle!

Updated: Apr 3

Need help with finding that right-in-the-middle consistency? You've come to the right place.




Regardless if you have been decorating for only a few months or it has been years, figuring out that sweet spot for different consistencies can be a pain, but it is the upmost important step in cookie decorating. One not to rush either if I don't add. Too much water or too much powdered sugar sometimes puts you in an endless battle of going back and forth. Just know it takes practice to get it right on the spot! Even for myself.


Now, you've made your icing base. Time to start the difficult part. Let's take a look into the different consistencies and which one is used for specific decorating tasks for piping.


Extra Stiff Consistency

This consistency is perfect for 3D detailing and fine details, such as flower petals/flower details or ruffles. There shouldn't be any flow to this icing at all and will form stiff peaks when lifted.

To achieve extra stiff consistency, slowly add a tsp of sifted powdered sugar into your royal icing mix at a time, until the icing stays put on a spoon and shows no flowing movement. Try not to add too much or else you will not be able to pipe the icing through your bag and/or tip. This can be avoided by adding the powdered sugar a little at a time and by testing the consistency in a piping bag on a blank surface before piping onto a cookie.


Stiff Consistency

Stiff consistency is great for lettering/writing, fine details, stenciling, line work, and dimension. When letting this icing fall onto itself, it should smooth out in about 25-30 seconds, however, the lines should not disappear completely once it settles.


A popular comparison for this is a "toothpaste consistency".


To achieve stiff consistency, slowly add a tsp of sifted powdered sugar into your royal icing mix at a time, until the icing shows a slow-flowing movement. Try not to add too much or else you will not be able to pipe the icing through your bag and/or tip. A helpful tip here is to grab some toothpaste and squeeze some out. Here you can see how thick you need to get your icing to be.


Medium Consistency

Medium is perfect for adding the popular "puffy" look to your cookies, wet on wet, marbling effect, minor details or using for both flooding and outlining (my personal favorite)


For this icing count, this icing should take about 15 seconds to smooth out into itself. A common comparison would be to something like Ketchup or a similar sauce. You can achieve this consistency count by scooping your icing with a spoon and letting it flow off back into your bowl. Once your icing flows nicely off your spoon, start a count when it hits the remaining icing in your bowl, this is where you should see it smooth itself out.


Flood Consistency

Flood is a popular consistency for decorating and is usually used for flooding cookies after outlining in medium to thick icing, wet on wet, marbling, or painting on a cookie.


Flood should take about 10 seconds to completely smooth out and settle flat. Can compare this consistency to that of Shampoo. You can test this the same as Medium Consistency by scooping your icing with a spoon and letting it flow back into your bowl. Once your icing flows quickly off your spoon, start a count when it hits the remaining icing in your bowl, this is where you should see it smooth itself out in about 10 seconds.


Tips

  • To gradually add water to thin, use a spray bottle instead of a spoon. Remember: a little goes a long way!

  • To thicken, add sifted powdered sugar very minimal at a time. If you do not sift, you may experience clogs while piping, especially in thicker consistencies.

  • Once you get the hang of making all the consistencies, you'll start to get the feel for it and be able to whip them up easier and quicker for whichever piping you need.

  • To count the seconds of "icing flow" drag a knife through the icing or take a spoonful and let it fall off naturally back into the bowl. Here is where you count the time it takes to settle back into itself.

  • Use a fan or dehydrator to help speed up the drying time in your icing and to leave a nice sheen once fully hardened.

  • Add a little bit of food coloring at a time, starting with less than what you think you'll need. The more food coloring in your icing, the more it can cause color bleeding.



In the End


Achieving the consistencies listed above takes lots of practice and batches after batches of cookies until you find that sweet spot that works best for you.


Have your cookies baked and ready, but unsure of a icing recipe to use? Take a look at my go-to Royal Icing recipe or if you still need a delicious cut-out cookie to use, check out my No Spread Sugar Cookie recipe.

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