I received the phenomenal 2010 book "The Art of Royal Icing" by Eddie Spence for my birthday. If I were to attempt all the projects in it, this blog would be like Julie & Julia all over again (and nobody wants that). His projects run the gamut from relatively simple blooms piped on a flower nail to a freestanding royal icing gazebo, so I thought I'd attempt something in the middle and toward the easier end: royal icing baskets (what with Easter being on the way and all). The setup for this project is simple…and baffling. I'd always heard the warnings of "royal icing and grease don't mix," "make sure all your utensils are grease-free," "grease will cause royal icing to 'break down'", etc. So when the brilliant Eddie Spence starts his instructions with "Grease the underside of the tin/container with white vegetable fat" I thought the man must have had a little too much cake with his wine. I considered attempting this project sans Crisco, but decided against it; Eddie bleeds royal icing, and must know what he's talking about. So, to make royal icing baskets, here's all you'll need: Crisco, a muffin pan, and a piping bag full of stiff-consistency royal icing, fitted with a round #2 tip.
I allowed it to dry for about 10 hours, confident the whole time that everything I'd ever heard about royal icing and grease would cause an enormous meltdown. When I gently nudged the underside (near the border) with my thumbnail, the basket popped off effortlessly, thus dashing all the lies and propaganda I'd ever been fed on the subject of Crisco. Here's the basket's underside:
And here it is in a potential final position, filled with a bouquet of blossoms (all attached with royal icing). A handle, leaves, or further decoration could be piped once the basket is firmly attached to the side or top of a cake. Imagine all the other containers royal icing baskets could be piped on! I'm planning to do a bowl of some sort to use as a cake topper in the near future (possibly using a small basketweave tip).