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Friday, August 31, 2012

Royal Icing Columbine

The white and lavender Rocky Mountain columbine is the official state flower of Colorado. I have a boatload of fuchsia icing, so I did another version which has essentially the same shape but is more of a deep pink. Columbines are rather large; they smell beautiful, attract hummingbirds and bees, and make great cut flowers. I recommend using a large flower nail and large parchment paper squares to really do them justice. You'll also need a glue stick, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch, leaf tip #70, petal tip #104, round tip #3, and stiff consistency royal icing in white, yellow, and fuchsia. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 First, pipe five equal petals with the fuchsia icing and the leaf tip #70. Hold the tip in the middle and almost flat against the surface. Squeeze faster than the pace at which you move the tip to create ruffles. Stop pressure and pull the tip away. Touch your fingertips to the dusting pouch and pinch the end to taper it (unless it ends neatly on its own).
 Repeat for a total of five petals. Touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch and slightly flatten the center. Allow this part of the flower to firm up for a while.
 Using the #104 petal tip, pipe five petals that straddle the "V"-shaped gaps between each of the first layer of petals. Hold the tip with the wide side in toward the center and the narrow side facing out. Move the tip in a "U" motion for each petal, angling the narrow end upward as you pipe to give this layer a lot of depth. Allow it to dry for a while.
 Pipe a cluster of #3 pull-up dots for the stamens in the center. Hold the tip flat against the surface, squeeze, pull up briefly, then stop pressure and pull the tip away.
Allow this cluster to dry for a while, then add dots to the ends by squeezing out a little ball of icing and then touching the tip to (or gently wiping it against) each stamen. I think a hummingbird might be just as drawn to these as the real deal! 


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Royal Icing Gray Squirrel

The gray squirrel is the official Wild Game Animal of the state of Kentucky. Are these things actually a delicacy? I'm no stranger to chipping a tooth on a piece of shot, but it's hard for me to think of these birdfeeder thieves and "game" in the same sentence. Guess I'll have to give them a try…or not. Anyway, to pipe teeny, tiny squirrels that can sit comfortably on a nickel, you'll need stiff consistency gray royal icing, round tips #2, #10, and #12, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, a glue stick, parchment paper squares, Super Black soft gel paste by AmeriColor, round toothpicks, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Pipe the shape that will be the body and head with the #12 tip. Hold it flat against the surface, squeeze, and pull the tip up slowly and then off to the side. Stop pressure and pull the tip away. Touch your fingertips to the dusting pouch and tap the shape until it roughly resembles this one:
 Allow it to firm up for a few minutes, then switch to the #10 tip to pipe the tail. Hold the tip close to the base of the squirrel's, um, posterior, and squeeze while moving the tip up the squirrel's back. When you get to the part where the squirrel's body bends over and tapers into the head, move the tip away while still piping. Stop pressure and pull the tip away after about 1/4".
 Touch your fingertips to the dusting pouch and adjust the tail downwards, so it looks like an upside-down "U."
 Switch to the #3 tip and pipe the ears. They're nothing more than just tiny dabs of icing; adjust them with a dusted fingertip.
 Use the #3 tip to pipe the legs, as well. Start with the hind legs. Tap these short shots of icing gently with a dusted fingertip to firmly adhere them to the body.
 When you pipe the front legs, tap the little "paws" so they touch. When they're dry, you could pipe a tiny brown icing "nut" with a #2 tip if you wanted to.
 When the squirrel's head is dry, paint in the eyes with a toothpick dipped in a product like Super Black soft gel paste by AmeriColor. Squirrels' eyes are more oval than round, so try to smash the tip of the toothpick into more of an oblong shape (or just dab two tiny circles very close together to make one eye and sort of blur them together with the toothpick). The nose is a tiny "v" shape. Park these squirrels on a cupcake alongside some royal icing acorns; they'll go nuts!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Royal Icing Syringa

The Syringa is the first flower I've piped out of royal icing whose pronunciation I am unsure of (and spellchecker is jumping all over me for the spelling, which I'm certain is accurate). It's the official flower of Idaho; I suppose if I'd taken the easy way out and piped a potato, I wouldn't have that problem. To pipe syringas (also known as Lewis's mock-orange), you'll need stiff consistency royal icing in white and yellow, petal tip #104, round tip #2, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, parchment paper squares, a glue stick, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Syringas have four petals, which you'll want to pipe at 12, 3, 6 and 9. Hold the #104 tip almost flat on the surface with the narrow side facing outward and angled slightly up. Squeeze and move the tip in a tight upside-down "U" motion. As the tip reaches the end of the petal, stop pressure and pull the tip away towards yourself.
 Repeat a second time, overlapping the first petal slightly.
 Repeat…
 …and repeat. Allow these 4 petals to firm up for a while; you can speed this process up by placing them under a desk lamp.
 Using the #2 tip on the yellow icing, pipe a cluster of stamens. Hold the tip against the surface, squeeze, and pull the tip upwards. Stop pressure and pull the tip away after about 1/4". Adjust the directions of the stamens with a fingertip after touching it to the dusting pouch.
 Allow the stamens to firm up for a while, then pipe the little balls on the ends. To do this, squeeze out a tiny ball of icing from the end of the tip, then gently wipe the tip off on the end of each stamen. This sounds like it shouldn't work, but if the stamens are dry enough, you'll be successful!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Royal Icing Alpine Forget-Me-Nots

Alpine forget-me-nots are particularly noteworthy because 1) they're one of the only true blue flowers found in nature, and 2) they're the state flower of Alaska. All you need to pipe them is blue and yellow stiff consistency royal icing, petal tip #101, round tip #2, parchment paper squares, a glue stick, a flower nail (you'll be piping five petals so you might want to stick a template on the nail to keep them even), a Styrofoam brick to rest the nail in, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 blend of powdered sugar and cornstarch. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Pipe the first petal with the #101 tip. Hold the tip almost flat against the surface with the wide side in the center and the narrow side facing outward. Move the tip in an upside-down "U" formation as you pipe; allow the icing to go just outside of the first circle on the template (the forget-me-not is on the small side).
 Repeat for a total of five petals.
 Allow the petals to firm up for a few minutes, then pipe a ring of yellow dots with the #2 tip in the middle.
 Flatten the dots slightly with a fingertip after touching it to the dusting pouch. Use clusters of Alpine forget-me-nots to decorate any Alaska-themed dessert (even a baked Alaska!) or treats for a shower for a baby boy.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Royal Icing Channel Catfish

I love it when whatever project I'm working on already happens to look like a squirt of icing; it makes the creative process that much easier. Tonight's creature is the official state fish of Nebraska, the channel catfish. These fish can grow to be 50+ pounds; I'm pretty sure this one doesn't even weigh a gram. All you'll need to pipe catfish are stiff consistency royal icing in gray (add a very small amount of a product like AmeriColor Super Black soft gel paste off the end of a toothpick to white icing), round tip #12, round tip #2, oval tip #57 by Ateco, parchment paper squares, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, a glue stick, a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of cornstarch and powdered sugar, and round toothpicks. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
Using the #12 tip, pipe an elongated teardrop shape about 1.25" long. Hold the tip at a right angle to and just above the surface. Decrease pressure as you near the end of the shape before stopping pressure and pulling the tip away.
When you start, angle the tip to form the fish's upper lip. 

 
 Switch to the #57 tip and pipe the tail fins. Hold the tip against the narrow end and pipe two short lengths of icing. Taper the ends of each fin with fingertips after touching them to the dusting pouch.
 Also using the #57 tip, pipe two fins on the back; the larger one should be toward the front. Pipe them in the same way you did the tail, except for holding the tip at a 45 degree angle to the surface and pulling it along at an angle.
 Pipe two fins on the sides in a similar way, holding the tip alongside the surface. With all of the fins, touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch and gently tap them where they join the fish's body to secure them.
 Switch to the #2 tip to pipe the whiskers. The catfish has 4 pair; if you feel like you only have room for one pair, that's OK. Hold the tip against the surface, squeeze briefly, and pull the tip away.
When the surface is dry, paint in the eyes. To make small dots, I like to smash the pointy tip of a toothpick against the counter before dipping it in the black food coloring and touching it gently to the surface. In addition to Nebraska, the channel catfish is also the official state fish of Iowa, Missouri, and Tennessee; this critter would be an appropriate cupcake topper for a celebration commemorating any of these states! 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Royal Icing Magnolias

Tonight's post is a tribute to Mississippi's official state flower, the magnolia (one of my favorite flowers AND movie; if you haven't seen Magnolia, DO). You might want to pipe this large flower with a huge petal tip on a massive flower nail. I used a #104 petal tip, a #8 round tip, a flower nail with a primrose flower nail template (optional, but if you want to pipe five even petals you may find it helpful), a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, parchment paper squares, a glue stick, stiff consistency royal icing in white and yellow, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Using the petal tip and the white icing, pipe a petal that goes just beyond the outer line on the template. Move your hand in an upside-down "U" motion while keeping the outer narrow edge of the tip slightly off the surface.
 Touch your fingertips to the dusting pouch and gently curl the petal from the widest part to the tip inwards to slightly taper it.
 Repeat for a total of five petals, give or take. Allow this first layer of petals to firm up for a while…
…and then pipe another layer on top. Stagger the petals with those beneath them; don't line them up directly on top in rows. Angle the outer edge of the petal tip upwards at a steeper angle.  
 You'll probably only have room for three petals or so. Tap the center flat gently with a dusted fingertip.
Pipe the center with a round #8 tip and yellow icing. Hold the tip against the center at a 90 degree angle, squeeze, and pull upwards. Stop pressure and pull the tip away after about 1/4". Round off the peak by tapping it with a dusted fingertip. Let the references to "Sugar Magnolia" begin…

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Royal Icing Lilac

Tonight's post is quick and easy, mostly because our Internet speed is really crawling along, and a huge tutorial might not load by midnight! So, this is a lilac blossom, and lilacs are the official bush of New York (I did a Big Apple of sorts a few months ago). All you'll need is stiff consistency royal icing in purple with a #101 petal tip and yellow with a #2 round tip, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, parchment paper squares, and a glue stick. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Pipe four small petals at 12, 3, 6 and 9. Hold the petal tip almost flat against the surface with the narrow end facing outward, and pipe each petal in a tight upside down "U" motion.
 Finish with a #2 yellow dot for the center. Pipe many of these blossoms, and when they're dry, peel away the parchment and arrange them in clusters on a cake or cupcakes (or something small like cake pops).