My instructor said you can't use flavoring in royal icing because the flavorings have oil in them that will interfere with the royal icing hardening like it's supposed to. Are there oil-free flavorings available?
You are right, Royal Icing does not taste very good. It's the meringue powder. There's not much you can do for that problem. Anything oil based or grease based will cause the icing to run and it won't harden properly. If you are just making the flowers for Course 2, the I would suggest simply not eating them. Royal Icing is hard, and while it is edible, there is nothing that says you have to eat it.
I make royal icing flowers on a cake for decoration only. When I cut and serve the cake I take them off or tell my family not to eat them (because of the taste, and the hardness, don't want to break a tooth or have a filling fall out!!!)
Taste only becomes an issue if you are planning to ice an entire cake (such as a formal wedding cake) with Royal Icing instead of Buttercream. I'm not sure what they do for that, or if anyone still does it. With Fondant, I think icing a cake with Royal icing may have had its day.
MarieB, many people use extracts to flavor royal icing. Look at the ingredients of your vanilla extract. You'll see vanilla beans, alcohol, maybe some sugar, but no fat.
Now, you would not be able to use LorAnn's oils.
But yes, you can use extracts. Many people do it. And you'd be surprised by how many people do eat the RI decos. I find that when you place them on BC, they do soften just slightly, so you are less likely to break a tooth.
I made my first royal icing this week as well. Is it normal to be stiff when you make it (at home) but be a thinner consistancy after about an hour? (when you get to class) So far I'm not a fan of royal icing. Guess I just need more practice with it.
Hello Juliana2421 ~ yes, royal icing tends to thin out as piping continues. Weather and atmosphere of the room has an effect as well. It also changes with time. Example ~ if made on Sunday for a Wed or Thurs class, it may need to be 're-whipped' in a mixer or by fast spatula before loading into a bag. If it sits for days or even a week, it will become more 'airy' with bubbles. Stirring will bring it back to the original consistency. It may need just a few drops of water ~ seriously, drops ~ not teaspoons or anything close to that. Water is an enemy of royal icing even though it's a necessary ingredient.
No frig for RI. The moisture in the frig will be too much. There's no reason to keep it there anyway as it's not perishable. Keep it in an airtight container or in a glass container with a tight lid. You don't want air to get to the icing as it will dry out and/or harden. You can place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the RI, then put the lid on the container.
Sorry ~ forgot about the 2nd question. If it becomes too thin, you can thicken it with 1) more powdered sugar 2) more meringue powder 3) corn starch or 4) a combination of the above. I'd start with corn starch, it's generally the least expense and takes less to thicken RI than sugar. Meringue powder is more expense.
RI can be very tempermental when learning. It cannot come in contact with any type of fat or grease. If the items you are using have also contained buttercream at one point or another, it's possible that some grease residue may have affected the icing. I'd say offhand NOT to throw it out, but add 1 cup of shortening to it and create some buttercream for later use. If it's very stiff now, it may need more liquid and certainly flavoring to become good buttercream.
Wipe all utensils that will be used in making RI with vinegar to ensure there's no grease left behind. All items should be metal or glass as plastic & silicone can have grease embedded that can't be cleaned away. The other most common error when making RI is not mixing it long enough. In a stand mixer, once all ingredients are combined, it needs about 7 minutes of mixing. With a hand mixer, it will need more like 10 minutes. The meringue powder is key to getting the icing to harden. It needs a long time to truly activate the icing. Don't skimp on those 3 tablespoons. Where I live, I start with 4 Tbs of water, all the sugar & meringue powder stirred together and slowly start mixing. When it starts to combine, the motor will have a tough time until another Tbls of water is added. This usually gets the sugar and water to 'relax' and become gooy. Once that happens, it shouldn't need more water, but might. Turn up the speed just 1 or 2 notches and continue mixing.
There's a great spatula test for seeing if the icing is 'done'. Dip the spatula straight down, scoop up a small amount on the end of the spatula and point it straight up into the air. The peak of icing should stand straight up. If it moves just a little, it's probably fine. If it sinks way over immediately, let it go another minute and try again. The best test is to actually put a little in a piping bag with Tip 101 and see how it is to pipe. Bags don't get very much icing for RI. Work with 1/2 full or less bag. It takes more pressure to pipe RI. So less icing in the bag makes it easier. If you can pipe it easily, let your 'test piping' stand for a minute to see if it holds its shape.
You can thicken with corn starch too. You'll use less than sugar as it absorbs much more liquid. Remember, all the things you can do with RI, you can also do with buttercream. Many of them would need to be frozen first in order to transfer to a cake, like the Rosebud and Daffodil.