Royal icing christmas cake tutorial

kage113

 

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat! And so are we, partially in thanks to cake. With this little christmas cake design, you can fatten up your family and look even slimmer yourself. Or you can be like me, and just not care. Christmas is no time for diets. It is, however, a time for decorating cakes. And so we shall decorate.

Some experience with royal icing  are required to follow this tutorial. All the techniques in this design should be covered in my royal icing ebook The Little Book On Royal Icing. It’s free (pay-if-you-like-it), so feel free to download it before you start.

The cake is covered with marbled fondant in the colour Sugarflair Baby Pink.

The tubes used are all PME (unless stated otherwise). I use the PME #1.5 a lot. If you don’t have this tube, you can use #1 instead. The cake pictured is 6″. Templates for 6″, 8″ and 10″ cakes are provided at the bottom of this tutorial. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to send me an email. It’s sif@sifbeth.dk

Enjoy!

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Start by grabbing any round fondant covered cake you might be in possession of. Divide it into 12 parts, using the template provided at the bottom of this post. Then mark the two inner circles and the candle. I like to place the template on top of the cake and then poke holes with a scriber needle, but you can use any transfer method you prefer.

Using tube #1.5 or #1, pipe the outline of the scrolls (1) and the bigger of the two centre circles (2). I used a dark pink icing. Let it dry for a bit. Then pipe the scrolls (3) with tube #42, using a lighter pink.

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Use a small, soft brush to apply a bit of dusting colour in a warm yellow color. Brush it in a circle around the area where the candle’s flame will be.

With soft, white icing, pipe the candle. Don’t use anything to pipe an outline, just pipe the entire candle with the soft icing. Use white icing for the flame as well. With the same icing, pipe bulbs along the edge to imitate wax running down the sides.
If you are not entirely comfortable piping run outs directly on the cake, you can pipe it on a sheet of acetate or parchment paper and let it dry overnight. Then carefully place it on the cake on top of a few small bulbs of icing to fasten it.
I use a very thin silicone baking mat for run outs and other royal icing pieces. It’s semi-transparent, making the template visible. It’s also non-stick, so the dried icing pieces are easy to remove.

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When the candle is dry, it’s time to paint it. Start by using a soft brush to dust the entire flame with a warm yellow coluring dust. Mix the same powder with clear alcohol and carefully paint the flame with vertical strokes, leaving the tip of the flame un-painted (is that a word?) so it’s a lighter yellow. Then grab some egg-yellow paste colour and dissolve it in a bit of clear alcohol. Brush the bottom and the sides of the flame with this darker colour. Let dry for several hours, and then use a black food colouring pencil to draw the wick. You can also pipe the wick using a very dark brown or black icing.

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Using the same dark pink as for the outline, overpipe the scrolls with tube #2 and let dry while you work on the spruce.

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Now it’s time to pipe some spruce twigs! They are applied to the cake in three layers. Some are piped directly on the cake, while some are piped seperately and placed on top later. You can use the spruce template at the bottom of this post if you wish.

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Start by piping the branches with tube #1.5 or 1, using brown icing. Let the surface dry. This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes unless you live somewhere really humid. Then pipe the leaves with tube #1, using green icing. If piping branches with side twigs, the leaves on the side twigs should be piped last. See the drawing for clarification.

Let the twigs dry completely before trying to remove them. For me, this takes about 30 minutes, since it’s fairly cold and dry where I live. You might have to wait longer. The twigs are delicate and break easily. Be careful when handling them, and make plenty of extra twigs.

To get realistic spruce, we have to start with getting the colors right. I tried to imitate the colours of a Norway Spruce. They are called Red Spruce in Denmark, and are the most popular choice for Christmas trees. For the branches I used a cold, slightly red brown for this. This exact colour is Rainbow Dust Progel Dark Brown.

For the leaves I used a mixture of Sugarflair’s Spruce Green and Apple Green to make a nice, dark icing. I then used a tiny bit of Kiwi Green (a bright, cold green) and a tiny dash of the dark brown icing I made. You can use any colours available to you, of course. You want to end up with a dark, slighty cold green with red tones.

With all your spruce piped and ready, it’s time to have some fun! Take a look at the pictures below for a visual on how to build up the spruce. You don’t have to follow my exact pattern, but it should give you an idea on how to make a nice and fluffy bunch of twigs. If you can call spruce fluffy, that is.

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First layer is piped directly on the cake. They are longer and almost vertical.

 

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Second layer is more of the same, giving more body to the design. These are piped seperately, on clear acetate, parchment paper or a thin silicone baking mat. They are then carefully removed and attached directly on top of the first layer with tiny dots of green royal icing. Use a small palette knife and a soft, dry brush to lift and place the twigs.

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Third layer is also piped seperately. These twigs are bigger and fuller, and they are attached to the piped circle to give them more height. They do not touch the cake surface at all. Start from the outside and work your way in towards the candle from both sides, making the overlap more natural.

Place 3 piped flowers right below the candle, to hide the place where the twigs meet. These are 5 petal flowers piped in white icing with icing tube #59s (Wilton brand). When dry, the petals are dusted with pink and the centre with yellow. A small bulb of spring green icing is piped in the centre with tube #1. The dark dots are made with tube #00 and brown icing, but can also be drawn on with a brown food colouring pencil.

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With the spruce all done, it’s time to finish up. With tube #1.5 or 1, overpipe the scrolls with light pink (1). Use the dark pink and tube #1.5 or 1 to pipe the inner circle around the candle (2), starting and ending right above the spruce. Pipe a fat dot of pink at both ends. With tube #2, pipe large bulbs between each section of overpiping (3).

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Finish the design by overpiping the two centre circles with tube #1.5 or 1, using light pink icing, and then piping bulbs in the centre with tube #2 and dark pink icing (1). Place a dot of light pink icing on top of the bulbs at the ends of the centre circle (2) using tube #1.5. With the same tube, pipe small dots all around the outer edge of the scrolls (3).

Let everything dry and behold your new creation! If decorating a real cake, be careful when cutting. There will be spruce everywhere.
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The image above is a sample of the template. Click the links below to download the templates in full sized JPG format.

Cake Templates:

6 inch cake

8 inch cake

10 inch cake


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Spruce Templates:

Layer 1 & 2:

6 inch cake

8 inch cake

10 inch cake

Layer 3:

6 inch cake

8 inch cake

10 inch cake

Overpiping tutorial

I took part in a collaboration along with some other talented royal icing artists. The theme was Midsummer Night’s Eve. Now, this was a challenge, mainly because I really don’t like Shakespeare. But I do like royal icing, and to my great joy, there was a wedding. Cue a wedding cake!

So this is the wedding cake of Theseus and Hippolyta. If you want to see the other cakes (and you do, they are great), Bella Baking has shared them on their Facebook page.

I made an overpiping tutorial to go along with the cake. This overpiping pattern is the one you see along the top border of the cake. Enjoy!

Intertwined overpiping tutorial

Pipe the middle C-scrolls with round tube #2.

Continue with the S-scrolls on each side, working from the outside towards the middle.

Then pipe the larger C-scrolls in two parts, working from the side of the S-scroll and out.

If you want plumes, they should be piped now, as the overpiping will make it difficult to pipe them later on. Use a light color and round tube #1.5 or #1.

The overpiping is done with a lighter colour than the base (but still darker than the plumes) and tube #1.5 or #1. Repeat steps 1-3.

To achieve the illusion of intertwining scrolls, overpipe the entire larger C-scroll (see photo for detail). And then you’re done!

New on the site: Reviews of vintage royal icing books

Ever wondered which of the good old royal icing books are worth the money? I’ve written a list, containing my own favorites, from bakers such as Lambeth, Schulbe and Borella, along with some basic information about contents and prices. An in-depth review of The Lambeth Method is already up, the rest will follow in the weeks to come.

You can find the list right here.

Green Birthday

My mother has a birthday this year. She also had one last year and the year before that. It is quite possible she’s been having these birthdays every year since she was born.

But I’m not sure. After all, she is older than me.

Since I live in The Kingdom of Far Far Away from my mother, I don’t often get to make cakes for her. This year, however, I decided to take the long 4-hour train trip, cake in hand, to visit my mother on her birthday.

Travelling with decorated cakes can be somewhat nervewrecking. Especially when you don’t have a car, and need to rely on public transport. Stranger-danger everywhere. People have no clue that I’m carrying a fragile cake, and as such do not feel any desire to not bump into me or my white cake box on the crowded train. Thankfully, most of the trip was on an intercity train, with seat reservations and a safe place for the cake.

When I need to transport cakes this way, I use a certain type of design. It’s not too fragile, but still elegant. On the top, some nice overpiping. I can make this as elaborate as I wish – as long as it lies flat on the top of the cake, there’s virtually no risk of breaking the icing. Unless you sit on the cake, but I guess very few types of decorating could survive that.

On the top edge and at the bottom I put clusters of tiny flowers. While they are somewhat fragile, they are not at risk of breaking from the shock alone, if the cake is bumped – like stringwork might.

Most of my cakes are decorated styrofoam dummies. I don’t sell my cakes, and I’m a slow decorator. I refuse to pull all-nighters, real cake or not, and the more elaborate designs can take me days or even weeks to complete – long past the expiration date of most types of cakes. When I do decorate real cakes, such as this birthday cake, I use somewhat simple designs (flowers can be made in advance) that can be done in a day or two. I also use mudcake. It’s stable, easy to transport, doesn’t go bad when kept at room temperature during the decorating process, and it will easily last a week or two in the fridge. But most important, it’s super tasty. Win-win.

For this particular cake, I used Sugarflair Apple Green. The flowers are made with a few different brands of purple, which gives subtle variations in colour, without being too different. There’s also a few pink flowers thrown in the mix. The cake is 6″ on a 8″ board.

And it survived the long trip. It didn’t survive dinner, though.