A few weekends ago I went on a 2 day Royal Icing course at Squires Kitchen in Surrey. I had never royal iced a cake before, but my main reason for going was to learn some piping techniques in royal icing from Ceri Griffiths, who is such a marvellous cake decorator and an expert in royal icing. He is a fantastic teacher too, and a very talented singer!
Over the 2 days of the course we royal iced a 6 inch fruit cake, piped blossoms, created a run out, did cornelli scratch work on the sides of the cake, learned to pipe shells, ropes and barrels, then decorated the cake with these new techniques. Piping shells was fine, I’ve done that before, but the ropes and ‘S’ and ‘C’ barrels were pretty tricky. You can see in the picture above how wonky my efforts were!
Quite frankly I don’t see myself using that particular technique a lot. My clientele usually prefers more modern designs, the shells and barrels looked quite old fashioned. As one of the other women on the course remarked, the cakes we created looked like “cakes my gran would like”.
Having said that though, the course was excellent and well worth going on. But I have to say, one thing I did take away from it is that I am never going to coat a cake in royal icing again! It is a very hard medium to work with, and it was a lot harder to get a nice smooth finish compared to fondant. Ceri did point out that it was my first time and it is a skill that requires a lot of practice to get right, which is true. But it is such a time consuming process. For a wedding cake, 3 coats are required with an overnight drying period in between each coat! Plus it dries so damn hard! My husband nearly broke a kitchen knife trying to cut through the royal iced cake I brought home from the course.
To date, I have not had a request for a royal iced cake, hopefully I never will (lol). Fondant is much easier to work with (and to eat!). However if a client wants some nice piped flowers, shells, or cornelli scratch work, I’m happy to oblige!