To Ice a Cake with Royal Icing (Plate 14)
Note: These quantities are sufficient to coat a cake of 8 in. diameter.
Place the cake already covered with almond paste on a cake-board or inverted plate. Place the cake-board on a turntable if available.
First coating: Royal icing, using 1¼ lb. icing sugar, etc., mixed to a stiff consistency.
Second coating: ¾–1 lb. icing sugar, etc., consistency to coat the back of a spoon.
Decorative piping: ½ lb. icing sugar, etc., mixed to a stiff consistency, i.e. that will stand up in points when the back of the spoon is drawn away from the side of the bowl.
To apply first coating: With a tablespoon take enough icing to cover the top, and place it in the centre of the cake. Spread evenly over top, smoothing the surface with a hot, wet palette knife (shake or dry the knife after dipping it in hot water as too much water softens the icing). Take up small portions of the icing with the end of the palette knife blade, spread it smoothly round the side until the cake is completely covered and the surface smooth.
Allow to set for a few days before applying the second coat. Whilst the icing is drying, and as soon as it is hard enough, place a thin sheet of paper lightly over the top to protect it from dust.
To apply second coating: Mix icing to a thin coating consistency and pour over the cake. Prick any bubbles with a fine skewer or pin; allow to firm before decorating.
To decorate the cake with piped icing: Cut pieces of greaseproof paper the same sizes as the top and sides of the cake. Sketch on to these the patterns to be used for the decoration. Pin papers firmly into position on cake and prick pattern through. Mix icing to a stiff consistency and pipe design on to cake, starting at centre and working outwards, and finishing with the sides and the base.
Using a forcing bag: Decorative icing can be piped from a forcing bag and pipe. Form a triangular piece of greaseproof paper into a cone-shaped bag. Cut off the point and slip a forcing pipe into the bag. Make a bag for each pipe to be used. Fill the bags ⅔ full with icing and fold over the top edges. Holding the pipe between the first and second fingers, force the icing through the pipe by exerting pressure with the thumbs on the top of the bag.
Icing syringes are made of metal or plastic and can be bought in sets complete with decorative pipes and a turntable. If coloured icings are being used the syringe must be washed before filling with another colour.
All pipes must be kept clean. Always keep the bowl containing the icing covered with a damp cloth whilst decorating, to prevent the icing drying out.
For Christmas cakes other decorations may be made with coloured marzipan, e.g. holly, mistletoe, etc., and the smooth icing surface roughened into points with a palette knife to form “snowdrifts”. For this one coat only is needed.