How to use Royal Icing


What is Royal icing?

Royal icing is used for coating cakes and for decorations such as run outs, extensions etc. and for piping purposes, royal icing is a most versatile of icings.  Plenty of practice is recommended but once you have mastered the technique you will be hooked.

How to make Royal icing

It is vital to make the icing correctly and to the right consistency, in order to obtain a good smooth finish on your cake. We have two recipes for making Royal icing from scratch:

Pure albumen powder makes a stronger icing and is more suitable for run-out sugar work, extension work and fine piping.  However the addition of glycerine will soften it if necessary for other uses. Meri white results in a softer, slightly whiter icing for covering cakes (and also making meringues) and tends to be cheaper to buy.

It is essential that all equipment and utensils used are clean and free from grease.  Any spots of grease will result in a heavy icing, therefore difficult to work with. You are aiming for a light, bubble free icing (soft peaks).

Keep the icing covered with a damp cloth whilst working with it to prevent drying out. Do not keep the cloth over for too long as it will cause the icing to absorb the moisture from the cloth and change the consistency.

After use, when storing, place any leftover icing in a clean bowl. This eliminates the danger of any dried out bits on the side of the bowl falling into the icing.

What consistency of Royal icing do I need?

Different consistencies of icing are required for different purposes so the icing, once made, will probably need slightly adjusting.

Before use, whether for piping or coating, ‘paddle’ it on a mat or suitable work surface with a palette knife to eliminate all the air bubbles. This achieves a smooth icing suitable for coating cakes.

If a firmer icing is required where it has to hold its shape e.g. for piped flowers, you will need to add a little extra icing sugar to the basic mix.

For run outs (Paddle to eliminate any air bubbles, and add more water as necessary to achieve a flowing consistency.

Equipment required for making Royal icing

Much of the equipment used for royal icing can be found amongst your general kitchen items, but there are a few specialist items you will require to make your royal icing a success.

  • Turntable

A turntable will ensure a smooth edge around the edge of your cake when icing. When icing the top it’s best to place the cake on your work surface to avoid movement.

  • Icing ruler

A good strong straight icing ruler is essential for smoothing the top of the cake.

  • Side scraper

A stainless steel or plastic side scraper will ensure a smooth side to your cake.

  • Palette knives

A small palette knife is ideal for icing the sides of your cake and a larger one for spreading the icing on top.

  • Wooden spoon

How to ice a cake

Ensure cake has straight, squared off edges, 3-4 thin coats are recommended as a base, making each coat a little softer with a drop of extra water as you go.

Paddle the icing on the top first to eliminate air bubbles. Drag the icing ruler across top at a slight angle and remove the excess icing with another knife.

Sit the cake on a turntable and paddle the icing onto the side with a palette knife.

Using a side scraper, holding it at an angle towards you, pull it around the cake, starting as far back as possible, turning the cake with one hand and holding the scraper with the other.

Allow each coat to dry before applying the next. Any roughness can be removed, either shaving with a sharp knife or rubbing with a piece of emery paper.

Coat the board using a palette knife, if wished, after completing the cake, while the icing on the cake is still fresh.


We stock a wide range of stainless steel piping tubes that are ideal when piping with Royal icing.

Practice before applying to cake especially if creating a more intricate design.

Ensure tubes are washed out well after use and no icing is leftover inside tube.