Tag: Weekly Technique

Weekly Technique – Eyelet Lace with Royal Icing

eyelet lace

Eyelet lace is something that has caught my eye more than a few times on Pinterest. The design creates such a feminine, delicate look. Attempting this is something I wouldn’t have even dared before I made peace with my royal icing recipe and since I’ve got a good grip on that I feel like I can up my decorating game a little.

Eyelet Lace What?

The first time I saw eyelet lace on cookies was SweetAmbs book, Cookie Art. She placed eyelet lace cookies on the front and back cover, plus a page dedicated to teaching the technique. I’ve read the post several times and scoured Pinterest and think I have a good handle on how to do it.

You can find SweetAmbs Book “Cookie Art” here. It’s full of great ideas for cookie techniques and there are some templates in the back you can use for royal icing transfers, filigree, and a few other fun goodies. Check it out!

Where to Start

I’ve seen 2 different types of eyelet lace cookies, one that does the design on a naked cookie, and one on a flooded cookie. I’ll be doing both for this technique to see which one gives me better results.

Flooded Cookie

eyelet lace

I started with a flooded cookie. I had some white flooded hearts left over from Valentine’s Day, so waste not and all that! They aren’t perfect and there are about 1 million air bubbles in them, but they are good for practice.

The design inspiration came from a few different pins I found on Pinterest after searching for eyelet lace cookies. I’m keeping it simple just to learn the actual technique.

The first thing I did was trace my design onto the dried icing with a regular old pencil. Since no one will be eating these the pencil is fine, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it for consuming. The idea actually came from a group discussion on Facebook and I guess a lot of cake decorators and cookie decorators use it on a regular basis. I would have used my food coloring pens but I couldn’t find them at that moment so the pencil was a good substitute.

eyelet lace

My idea was to start very simply and then embellish it as I went along and got the feel for it.

After tracing the pattern I piped over it with my pink icing, more leftovers from Valentine’s Day. The icing is pretty stiff and I used a #2 tip.

eyelet lace

After piping on the patter, I embellished it with some simple dots and a border. The border was a little problematic for me. Because the icing was leftover from Valentine’s, it had separated a little. I thought I had mixed it up enough in the bag but as I started to pipe it on there I came to a watery, separated part and it was just a mess. That part is on the top and left side as you look at the picture. The right side is pretty neat and tidy.

eyelet lace

Overall, I really liked how this one turned out and will do this again. It was quick to decorate and fun to create a beautiful design. This probably doesn’t actually count for ‘true’ eyelet lace design, but it’s pretty close and I liked it.

Naked Cookie

eyelet lace

For the naked cookie I used the same design just without the flood underneath using the same pencil to draw on the design. I thought I could get a good comparison by doing close to the same design on both cookies.

After drawing the design, I piped right onto the cookie with the same stiff pink icing and #2 piping tip.

eyelet lace

After drying for a few minutes, I then started flooding the spaces in between the eyelets. To do this, I used a Wilton brush and some thinned out pink icing. The icing was thinner than typical flood icing, it poured easily from a spoon. I then loaded my brush and eased the icing into the places that I wanted covered.

eyelet lace

eyelet lace

Here’s what it looked like right after I finished flooding it. I found that when the icing is thinned that much, it dries kind of sticky and I didn’t love it.

eyelet lace

I went back over the eyelets with the stiff pink icing and then added the same dots as the other design. Here’s the finished product:

eyelet lace

 

 

eyelet laceConclusion

While eyelet lace is a beautiful technique for cookies, I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll be using a lot in the future. It’s pretty time-consuming and for the effort I could have cranked out about 5 cookies just as beautiful, just not as complicated.

If I keep working at it I will improve and probably get faster, just not sure if I want to at this point. I loved the white and pink cookie and how it turned out and will probably make that design again.

 

Is this something you think you will tackle in the future? If you do send me a picture, I would love to see your attempts!

Thanks for reading,

Leah

 

 


Weekly Technique- The Stencil

weekly technique stencilWeekly Technique – Stencils

I decided to practice with the new stencils and the results are in…still… need …more …practice. The neat and tidy royal icing pattern stencils can offer is wonderful, but like every other technique, it’s a little more difficult than it looks. Actually kind of bummed about how these turned out, I really thought I had a better grasp of this technique but toss a new stencil in the mix and I’m beginning all over again!

Royal Icing Re-Do

stiff royal icing

I tried the royal icing recipe again and I ended up with the same result too thin. I added sugar and meringue powder until I got the consistency I was hoping for in the first place. The icing was thick and held stiff peaks well. I will definitely be trying some new recipes in the future and will probably start with the tried and true Wilton recipe. I’m also thinking of adding some corn syrup to my icing as well, but that’s for another post!

The Colors

Blue Gray cookies

If you ask my 2 older children or my husband what is my favorite color, they will quickly tell you gray. Not sure if gray actually counts as a “color”, but it is my favorite. All shades of gray or any color with that cool gray tone just speaks to me. I love gray! Over Christmas I was able to  order the Wilton Garden Color Set. The Delphinium Blue is, as you can probably guess, a blue-gray! I mixed up 2 different shades of this; one a very light gray, and the other the full color. I attempted a royal blue but it didn’t turn out as dark as I was hoping even after letting the colors develop for a few hours. Blue and white are another one of my favorite color combos and one of my new stencils was purchased with that in mind.

The Stencils

blue and white stencilfiligree stencil

 

Blue and white cookies
1st attempt at the top, 2nd attempt middle, and 3rd attempt bottom.

Hobby Lobby stencils were in full play during this cookie decorating session. The plan was to use the lettering stencils and the 2 designs for all 9 cookies, but because the others didn’t turn out like I’d hoped, I brought in the old standbys. First up was the blue and white, and I was hopeful after the first cookie turned out decent. There was a little edge problem where I didn’t get the stencil all the way down onto the cookie so I tried to compensate for that on the second one. Next cookie was worse, the icing was too thick.

The last cookie I don’t even want to talk about, but since this is all about learning… if the icing was too thick on the 2nd one, it was extra too thick on the third. I actually had to let it dry, then knock down the tall stuff with a serrated knife! I was so embarrassed as I was sawing off my high places knowing it would have to be included on my blog post but hey, live and learn!

 

The filigree stencil was my most difficult. Due to the pattern and the thinness (cheapness) of the stencil, the pattern lifted off the cookie when the icing was spread, which of course smudged the pattern. I tried it twice with the same horrendous outcome. Warning: Cringe-worthy photo ahead…

filigree

 

One cookie was done with the letter K, and it turned out fine, just a little plain.K stencil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since the other stencils didn’t turn out as I had hoped, I brought out “Old Faithful”, my damask stencils. It has 2 designs on each stencil and it looked beautiful with the Delphinium blues. Even with those I had a smudge and my self-confidence was gone at this point.

damask
This one turned out the best, no smudges!
damask
You can see towards the bottom it smudged a little.

damask

Time for a Tool Change!

My offset spatula had been my tool of choice but after all those bad cookies I had switched to my small pink rubber spatula and that seemed to work much better. You better believe I’ll be using Pinky for stenciling from now on!PINKY

 

What Did I Learn?

Will I stencil again? Absolutely! Stencils are still high on my list of great tools for cookiers, they give the ability to crank out uniform designs relatively quickly and easily. Well, with practice of course.

Here are a few things I will do differently next time:

  • Try for more even flooding – If I can get a better working surface, I’ll get a better stencil design. I’m still tying to find my own way of flooding and icing consistency, which affects EVERYTHING!
  • Use magnets – While I would love to have a Stencil Genie, I’m going to start with something a little easier on the budget… magnets from the dollar store used on a metal baking sheet I already have.
  • PINKY!!! – To say that I was kicking myself for not using Pinky from the start would be an understatement. So much easier. The rubber is just better at going over the surface and lays the icing smoother. I might have had a completely different post if I’d used Pinky the entire time.
  • Clean my stencils after each use – big problem with my blue and white cookies, the icing just kept getting thicker with each cookie.
  • Keep practicing! – I love this technique and want to improve.
Blue Gray cookies
Before…

 

finished stencils
After…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Any stencilers out there? What’s your favorite stencil to use and favorite color combinations? I’ll be using the gray again (of course!) and still loving that blue and white.

Thanks for reading!

Leah

 

 

 

Royal Icing Problem Solving (and my recipe!)

Royal Icing

Royal Icing Problem Solving

Royal icing is what gives the WOW factor to decorated cookies. It gives depth, dimension, and color, and can transform a plain sugar cookie into a work of art. Royal icing is also one of the most tricky things to get right in the beginning.

There are so many different recipes out there that give vague terms and amounts that are open to your own interpretation. If you are making a recipe for the first time, like royal icing, how do you know when enough water has been added? When is it over mixed? Does it need to be mixed? When I try to make a recipe, I want to know exactly what to do to replicate what’s in the picture. That’s what we’ll tackle today, making a great royal icing the first time!

Royal icing consistency is a whole other blog post, so I won’t be going over that here. I will be adding my own recipe and instructions at the bottom of the post.

 

royal icing

What is Royal Icing?

Royal icing is an icing that gets hard as it dries. Its used in decorating cakes, cookies, and other confections.

Here are the basic ingredients that all Royal icing recipes include:

  • Confectioners Sugar
  • Meringue Powder or egg whites
  • Flavoring/Extract
  • Water

The ingredients all serve a different purpose in the recipe:

  • Confectioners sugar ( or powdered sugar) is the base of the recipe. It’s what gives the icing its sweetness and body.
  • Meringue powder or egg whites cause the icing to harden.
  • The extract gives the icing its flavor. You can use any flavor to change up your recipes, although vanilla is the most commonly used flavor.
  • Water combines all the ingredients together.
  • Food grade vegetable glycerin or corn syrup is also added to some recipes to keep the icing from getting too hard as it dries.

The recipe is a balancing act of ratios. Most recipes call for a 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar to 5-6 Tbsp. of meringue powder. Two to Three Tbsp. of extract is used for 2 lbs of sugar, and if you are using corn syrup or glycerin, it’s usually 1 Tbsp. per 1 lbs of sugar. I like to add 2 tbsp. per batch.

stiff royal icing

How to Mix:

There are several different ways you can mix up the icing.

  • Sift the sugar and meringue powder together, then add wet ingredients and mix
  • Combine the meringue powder and water until powder is dissolved, then add to the sugar and mix
  • Add the extract to the water, then in the mixing bowl, mix the sugar and meringue powder together, then combine them slowly together and mix.

I’ve tried all of them and I prefer to mix the meringue powder and water together until the meringue powder is dissolved. I don’t sift the powdered sugar because it dissolves so quickly in the water I’ve never had a problem with it being lumpy. Then I add the water mixture to the sugar, add the extract, and right before I turn up the mixer I add my corn syrup.

 Common Problems:

There is nothing more frustrating than making a recipe, messing it up, and not being able to figure out what went wrong. Here are some common royal icing problems and how to fix them.

Icing won’t harden

The easiest solution for this would be not enough meringue powder and there’s not much you can do about it at that point. The ratio of sugar to meringue powder has to stay in that 1 lb. to 3 Tbsp. range.

Icing didn’t become “stiff”

Stiff icing is a must for certain types of decorating techniques, and most recipes will give you an end result of stiff icing. It’s a lot easier to thin it out than to go the other way. I had this problem multiple times, and I was under mixing my icing.  The meringue powder has to be mixed on medium speed for about 4-5 minutes to get that stiff texture. When I was first making RI I was thinking it had to be like a glaze, where you just mix the liquid and sugar and it’s done. Royal icing has to be mixed for it to get stiff.  

Icing crumbled after it dried

This could be a result of over mixing. If you mix for more than 5 minutes your icing will probably be crumbly and fall off the cookie after it dries. Again, not a lot to be done at this point.

Air bubbles

This is a really common problem that all decorators deal with. It’s so frustrating to decorate a beautiful cookie and see an air bubble rising to the surface! The best way to deal with this is before it’s even put in the piping bag or bottle. Let the icing sit for a while, tap the container on a solid surface to bring those bubbles up, then pop them. I use a spatula to wipe the surface and pop as many as I can without creating more.

Icing too thin

If you started out with thick icing and thinned it too much for flooding, this is a pretty easy fix. The easiest way is to add more stiff icing. If your whole batch is too thin, you can add some powdered sugar but you have to be careful of your ratios. If you just add sugar your icing won’t harden. A good thing to keep on hand is a small bag of sugar/meringue powder mix. You can do 1/2 lb. of sugar with 1 1/2 tbsp. meringue powder. You can add this to thinned icing and not worry about your ratios being off.

The Simple Cookie’s Royal Icing Recipe

royal icing

Ingredients

  1. 2 lbs powdered sugar
  2. 6 tbsp. meringue powder
  3. 2-3 tsp vanilla extract
  4. 3/4 cup warm water
  5. 2 Tbsp corn syrup

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the meringue powder and water. Wisk until combined.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the powdered sugar and water/meringue powder mixture.
  3. Turn mixer on low and combine.
  4. Add extract and combine until ingredients come together.
  5. While the mixer is still mixing on low, add the corn syrup.
  6. Turn mixer on medium and mix for 4-5 minutes. The icing will form stiff peaks when mixed enough. Do not mix for more than 5 minutes.

A few tips…

This royal icing recipe is easy to make! I’ve tried to take the guess work out of it for you.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors and extracts, the sky is the limit!

This royal icing recipe will keep for about 3 weeks in the fridge. Place plastic wrap on the icing, pressing down to get out all the air bubbles, then cover with an air tight lid. This keeps the icing from drying out and crusting over.royal icing

Stir the royal icing after it has been stored, it will separate but is still good to use.

Let the royal icing come to room temperature before using or coloring.

I recommend Americolor food gel paste for coloring royal icing. You can find that here.

 

Will you try it?

I really hope I’ve inspired you to try this recipe! I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to own a bakery or have an art degree to create beautiful cookies.

Thanks for reading and I would love to know if you tried my recipe!

Leah