Piping Icing

The Editors at Food Fanatic | Food Fanatic

Learn about the two main kinds of piping icing, including when to use them and how to make your own

Making a bowl of piping icing and using it to decorate your home baked goods turns the simplest cakes and cookies into show-stoppers. 

With just a little practice you can create cool designs or simple swirls that add visual appeal to your baked treats, along with extra flavor and a contrasting texture.

Homemade Candy Buttons Photo

There are two main kinds of piping icing that are commonly used in cakes and cookies, and those are royal icing and buttercream icing (or frosting).

Royal icing

Royal icing is perfect for all kinds of culinary applications! It is the type of icing used to create intricate and beautiful patterns and flowers on wedding cakes, and is ideal for making lovely designs on cookies.

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies Photo

Add a few drops of food coloring of your choice and it is easy to create themed cookies for events like Christmas and Halloween.

Because royal icing dries so hard, it also makes a fantastic glue for gingerbread houses! Or you could use it to make these colorful Candy Buttons!

Making your own royal icing is simple. All you need is:

3 egg whites (at room temperature)

4 cups of powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar

  1. Pop all your ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and blend for several minutes at a low speed until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Scrape down the sides then resume blending at medium speed for around 7 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is stiff, white and shiny.
  3. If you want to add any food coloring, do so at this point and blend intil well mixed.
  4. Your icing should now be ready to use, but you can add a little more sugar if you would like it to have a stiffer consistency.

Remember to use your royal icing immediately - it gets hard very quickly.

Greek Yogurt Frosting Image

Buttercream frosting

Buttercream frosting makes a lovely piping icing.

Usually light and airy and with a soft, creamy texture, it can still be used to make pretty decorations when piped with a decorating bag and tips. It is spreadable - so it can be good for sandwiching cake layers together - and it is the perfect texture for creating attractive swirls on cupcakes.

Strawberry Frosting Pic

Vanilla buttercream is the most popular variety - it is traditional, versatile and very easy to prepare. All you will need is:

1 cup unsalted butter

4 cups of powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt (optional)

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer at medium speed, until light and fluffy.
  2. Next, beat in the vanilla and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time, turning the speed to low with each new addition then returning to the medium setting. Stop often to scrape down the sides.
  4. If the mixture is a little too dry for your needs, add milk until it reaches the desired texture.

Recipes using piping icing...

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Birthday Cake Cookies

Lemon Lime Cupcakes

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