Hey Ya’ll! We're going to be returning to the basics of cookie decorating and make sure we've got a strong foundation laid.
If this is your first time visiting the blog, My name is Sarah Grace and I teach people how to make gorgeous, decorated sugar cookies and how to earn a profit from their cookie decorating skills. If you'd like to learn more and get resources for cookie decorators then you have come to the right place!
Making Royal Icing For Decorated Sugar Cookies
For anyone new to decorating sugar cookies, the icing that we use to make those beautiful, flat, smooth cookies you can paint on or add decorations on top of, that looks like enamel finish is called royal icing. Usually, it's made with powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water. Some people even like to add vanilla or even some Karo syrup. You can learn more about my recipe in this blog post right HERE.
What is Royal Icing Consistency?
You can change the consistency of that icing once you've made it just by adding different amounts of water. The more water you add, the more runny your icing becomes, the less water you add, the firmer it is.
Firm textures of icing, like the really stiff straight out of the mixer kind, are typically used for things like flowers, piping thin lines, and piping fine details. The looser your icing gets, the more quickly it smooths out and the more it spreads out across the surface of the cookie. Those types of consistency, the more runny or loose consistency, are usually used for flooding, the surface of the cookie for dipping cookies face down and creating that smooth surface.
My favorite consistency is 20 second consistency. You may hear people refer to different consistencies based on what it looks like. That may be a cookie dough or toothpaste looking consistency. There are different ways of referring to it, but the way that I often refer to my icing consistencies is a mix of the two.
Sometimes I use what it looks like, but I also use seconds. When you hear me say that icing is a 20 second or 15 second consistency, what that means is when you have a bowl of icing and you take just a little drop and plop it down into the rest of the icing, that's how many seconds it takes to reincorporate and go smooth back over the top of the icing.
So, when I say 15 seconds, that's what I mean. And you may hear it referred to in different ways. But I want to talk about the four main consistencies that I typically use in decorating cookies.
Again, my favorite is the 20 second consistency. Some people like to outline their cookies with a stiff consistency and then slide with a more loose, consistent ease.
I prefer to use the 20 second consistency to outline and slide. This saves me a lot of time, a lot of bags, and a lot of energy when it comes to coloring all those different colors of icing. This 20 second consistency is what I use when I'm flooding cookies when I'm creating a wet-on-wet design, or an ombre design.
You can learn more about how to create this consistency in my consistency confidence class. This is now a free class! It's been a bestseller for years, but I've decided to make it free that way it's more accessible for everyone to be able to learn cookie decorating and get started cookie decorating. I know that I have had a lot of growth in my personal life and business just from the skill of cookie decorating. And it does seem that a lot of people are looking for something to help them get that flexible income, have a creative outlet, especially as a mom, and have a community and support. It is kind of like a type of therapy! So, I want to make it more accessible and I've made that consistency class free.
You can find that free class HERE. You'll just need to sign up and complete the registration process and you can get into that online class for free. I teach you my signature SG Scoop Method for reaching perfect 20 second consistency.
Now I'm not going to tell you it's a foolproof method or that it's great every time because the weather does have an effect. I think humidity has an effect on royal icing but it's a lot easier to have an idea of how to get to that consistency, to kind of give you a jumping-off point rather than just guessing every time. Because that's what I did when I started out and it was really difficult.
Which Royal Icing Consistency Should I Be Using? The 4 Main Icing Consistencies I Use
The 20 second consistency is what I'm using most of the time. It is my go-to flood consistency and it is my favorite thing for flooding those thick, pretty, I like to call them “Sunday Makeup” cookies because you know you've got your everyday make-up.
It's cute, it does the job but your “Sunday Makeup” it’s got to be REAL CUTE!
Another consistency that I use sometimes is the 10 to 15-second consistency. This is just a little bit thinner than that 20 second. I don't like to use it for flooding because it does kind of run off the side of the cookie. But what I like to use it for is dipping.
So, if I'm dipping cookies, you can dip them face down. I have a video on that you can watch HERE, but you can give them face down, turn them right side up and it creates almost a flooded texture across the top. Looks very similar as if you flooded it. It's just a little bit thinner on those edges, whereas flooding kind of sits up a bit more and it's thicker and looks a little bit more like that “Sunday Makeup.”
The dipping does create that pretty smooth surface. It's just not quite as thick. But you can create textures with dipping and different patterns with dipping like tie-dye from these 4th of July cookies. Or you can do the different color variations. The marble cookies are really cute.
Y'all know that I absolutely love flowers! Any kind of royal icing flower cookie I'm all about it and I used a straight out of the mixer, I don't add any water to it, and this is what I call my piping consistency. It's just a stiff consistency. You might hear some people call this outline consistency, but I just don't add any water to my icing. I pull it straight out of the mixer. I add my food coloring to it, and then I usually use a petal tip to create flowers.
The fourth and last consistency that I use most often in cookie decorating is toothpaste consistency.
Now that might sound kind of funny and different toothpastes or different consistencies, but this is a little bit firmer than that 20 second flood, but it is a little bit softer than just straight out of the mixer. So, I add just a tiny bit of water to it, and this is great for creating thick writing and especially script writing, which I know is popular right now on cookies.
This toothpaste consistency is great because it doesn't spread out all over the cookie, but the surface of it will become smooth. It won't maintain the lines of the piping bag thats used on it. You can use it for those beautiful details by writing. I like to use it for some character cookies. If I'm doing lots and small places, but I need to be smooth on top, but I still want to maintain that shape.
Those are the four main consistencies that I use when creating royal icing sugar cookies. But you may find that you prefer a different consistency for your day-to-day decorating needs. Each cookie decorator is different in what they like to use. It's kind of like an artist's palette, you know.
Everyone does things differently and that's okay! That's what makes each of our work special. If you'd like to learn how I use the SG Scoop Method to create each of those four consistencies, then go check out the consistency confidence class. It's free! It's an in-depth online course that teaches you how to make royal icing, and gives you a card with the recipe I use on it, how to mix those icings to consistency, my best tips for avoiding air bubbles and all that stuff that goes wrong when working with royal icing as well as my best tips for piping and kind of getting the feel for what those consistencies can look like on the cookie and how to troubleshoot when it doesn't exactly go as planned, because sometimes that happens!
Thank you so much for stopping by today! If you would like to join a community all about cookie decorating and a group with people who are on the same journey as you, head over to Facebook to “Cookie Confidence.” I know… “Consistency Confidence,” “Cookie Confidence.” One is the class, and “Cookie Confidence” is the Facebook group where we get together to share pictures of our work, follow each other on social, and support each other through every step of the journey. I would love, love, love to have you there! Thank you again for stopping by!