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Royal icing flooding is the first stage in decorating sugar cookies.
This stage also called the base coat, is the most important. You need to get the sugar cookie icing as perfect as possible to assure the decorating turns out splendid!
Let’s troubleshoot some common problems with royal icing flooding…
· Icing runs off the cookie
12-second consistency means if you spoon up some icing and drop it back in, it takes 12 seconds for it to disappear. 15 seconds means the same, but it takes 15 seconds to disappear.
12 or 15-second flooding. Which one?
This depends if you plan on using the same consistency to pipe the border and flood the cookie (grab the best sugar cookie recipe here).
Some decorators prefer using only one consistency to outline and fill. This saves work but gives less control of the icing. Use 12 seconds if you plan on this technique.
If you like/would like to feel as though you have more control, use 2 piping bags, one with 12 seconds (outlining) and one with 15-second royal icing (flooding).
However, just starting, I recommend the 2 bag technique. It's easier.
***I'll interject while I'm thinking about it. If you are piping royal icing transfers onto a royal icing template sheet or transfer sheet, you'll want the sugar cookie icing to be as thick as possible and still be smooth (perhaps tickling it with the scribe to help). Otherwise it'll take forever to dry, or may never. You can get unique transfer sheets in my shop here: Shop Gotta-havs!
· Air bubbles in the icing
Ugh, those dreaded air bubbles. Where do
they come from?
First, do not over-mix when making the sugar cookie icing. Mixing too long incorporates air into it and will compromise the puffiness when it's dried.
Make sure to use your whip attachment instead of the paddle. Always make sure it's on the lowest setting too. Refer to the Sugar Cookie Icing page on how to make the royal icing or glaze.
Second, after mixing the colors it should set for a while, preferably overnight. This allows the air bubbles to rise to the top.
Third, adding too much liquid can contribute
to air bubbles, color bleeding, and extended drying time.
Want puffy icing on cookies?
Try to not over-mix the icing. Also, adding too much liquid will make them flat.
Note: it's faster to have the royal icing flooding thinner, but this gives more bubbles, color bleed, and a flatter top.
· Cracks in the royal icing
After flooding the sugar cookies, leave them to sit untouched overnight if possible.
Though they may look set up, only the tops are crusted. Underneath is still wet.
Side note…a common myth is to place them in a dehydrator and they will dry. Dehydrators are wonderful for sugar cookies. I wouldn’t want to live without mine as a sugar cookie artist.
However, dehydrators only help the icing to dry on top. This enables the decorator to pop them in to add another color or layer faster.
This is the commercial food dehydrator I ended up with. It holds 10 racks. Each rack holds between 12 and 15 sugar cookies, about 3" in size.
Unfortunately, Amazon says they are out of stock on these bad boys, so I removed the link.
...my mother purchased the Cosori dehydrator and loves it! I see no difference between hers and mine. So here is the link to that one instead. The link is for the 6 shelf, but if you go over, they also have a 10 shelf one that costs more:
*Here is a good video on dehydrators for cookies. It's about half an hour long, but so informative.
· Color bleed
The following list is only a part of a longer list. Click this image to go to Royal Icing Tips for a 2-page download you can print off. Grab it while it's free!
Before you start with icing, make sure you have the perfect cookie recipe and make sure to click on How to Bake Sugar Cookies to make your life easier as a cookier.
What's my favorites baking sheets? You might be surprised. Check them out.
There are quite a few reasons for color bleed. This is a partial list of what I have learned through the years:
a. Use quality food gel--The only food gel I will use is Americolor. I've tried others, naturally, but these are high-quality and oh-so vibrant. I very much appreciate them.
Click the picture for the Best Sugar Cookies link with a downloadable and printable recipe.
Click this image for my superior royal icing recipe for free
Here is also a link for a sugar cookie glaze recipe that's really nice!
1. blank cookies
2. royal icing outline consistency in piping bag, #3 frosting tip
3. royal icing flood consistency in piping bag, I like to use a #5 frosting tip
4. scribe or toothpick
5. paper towel or cookie turntable
6. wet paper towel or cloth
7. favorite music
One thing to remember before we start the fun...
“Harmonious fingers make for competent hands.”—Pepper Blair
Focus on the work at hand. Be detailed oriented. It's when you pay attention to the fine details that it catapults you into a pro-level decorator. I can't say it enough:
Keep in mind, that this is an A-Z sugar cookies site. Thus, we
are starting at the very beginning. If you are more advanced, please be patient
as this site is developing. You can click ahead to Cookie Decorating Techniques if you like.
Also, just because this is the way I decorate, does not mean it’s the best or only way. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
With a piping bag in hand, take the thicker (outline) icing
and draw a line around the shape of the cookie. This is called the dam or border.
Set the tip down on the cookie to start and raise the tip about ½” to 1" away from the surface. Whatever you are comfortable with.
Do not pull the icing, just let it fall in a straight line, letting gravity have its way.
You need to be aware of the steady squeeze of the bag as you move it along. Nice steady pressure.
As you come near meeting the starting point, let up on the squeezing so there isn’t a glob when you meet it. This is where your scribe or toothpick will come in handy.
The royal icing may need to be smoothed out a little when the two ends meet.
Now set it aside and pipe the borders on the rest of the cookies.
Take the first cookie you piped. With the other piping bag, the royal icing flooding, fill in the sugar cookie.
Keep going until you have finished royal icing flooding all the cookies. Preferably a dozen. This will give you lots of practice.
If you see bubbles rising to the top, just take your ‘bubble popper’ and pop them. There will be others that will pop on their own, so don’t worry too much.
Don't fret if yours don't turn out perfect. Royal icing flooding is like anything else...practice makes perfect.
You've now finished royal icing flooding.
Here is a link back to How to Make Professional Cookies.
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