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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Royal Icing Rhode Island Greening Apple

The Rhode Island Greening Apple was developed in its home state (where it is, probably obviously, the official fruit) around 1796! It's a very round, yellowish-green apple, and is known for retaining its sharp taste in cooking. I haven't quite mastered the art of piping a perfect ball-shaped figure that retains its shape, but this little hemisphere would make a fine topper for any apple dessert (cupcakes, muffins, whatever). All you'll need is stiff consistency royal icing in yellowish-green and brown, round tips #12 and #4, a flower nail, a Styrofoam brick to rest the nail in, a glue stick, parchment paper squares, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Attach the #12 tip to the bag of green icing. Hold it at a 90 degree angle to and just above the surface, and squeeze steadily while moving the tip straight upward for about an inch. Stop pressure and pull the tip away.
 Liberally dust your fingertips by touching them to the dusting pouch, and tap the icing into this half-sphere shape.
 Finally, press the end of the #4 tip about a millimeter into the center at a right angle, and squeeze out a very short stem with the brown icing. Stop pressure and pull the tip away, adjusting the stem with a dusted fingertip if need be.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Royal Icing Wintergreen

Wintergreen was designated the official state herb of Maine in 1999. It grows in wooded areas, and produces white flowers in the summer that produce red berries in the fall. I thought I'd attempt the summer version right now; perhaps I'll revisit piping wintergreen later this fall. All you'll need are stiff consistency royal icing in white and green, petal tip #104, round tip #8, flat toothpicks, a flower nail, parchment paper squares, a glue stick, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, 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 a green leaf with the petal tip. Hold the tip almost flat on the surface with the narrow end facing outwards and angled up slightly, then pipe while moving your hand in a tight upside-down "U" shape.
 Repeat for a total of at least three petals. Touch your fingertips to the dusting pouch, and subtly taper the ends of the leaves. Touch the narrow end of the flat toothpick to the dusting pouch and gently press it into the icing on either side of the center line to form veins in a "V" formation.
 To pipe the white flowers, hold the #8 tip against the surface, squeeze while pulling the tip upwards, then stop pressure and pull the tip away.
Dust the narrow end of another flat toothpick and gently press a 5-pointed star formation (sort of like an asterisk) to suggest the end of the bell-shaped flowers. These would be very appropriate decorations for any woodsy or minty dessert (even though I just read that wintergreen isn't actually a member of the mint family; news to me!).

Friday, September 28, 2012

Scotch Bonnet Seashell

Piping a seashell can be tricky; they have so many tiny details that make them unique (and last I checked there isn't a piping tip marked "seashell"; you just make do with the same tips you use for everything else). The official state shell of North Carolina is the Scotch Bonnet (pronounced "bonay") and the only tips you'll need to pipe an approximation of it are round tips #12 and #5. You'll also need stiff consistency royal icing, a flower nail, parchment paper squares, a glue stick, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Hold the #12 tip just above and at a 45 degree angle to the surface. Squeeze out a ball to anchor it, then increase pressure while pulsing the tip in and out to create ridges. As the icing builds up, decrease pressure while continuing to form ridges, then stop pressure and pull the tip away.
 You might need to dust your fingertips to adjust the tip or pinch off any excess.
 Switch to the #5 tip and pipe a lip around the lower left half of the shell. When the icing is dry, peel away the parchment. You can use a brown food-safe marker like the Gourmet Writer by AmeriColor or a small brush and some brown Color Dust to dab in a pattern of dots (in this photo you can see why the shell's name was inspired by Scottish tartan).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Royal Icing Western Wheatgrass

Western wheatgrass at one time covered almost the entire state of North Dakota, where it was designated the official state grass in 1977. In most photos I found, it is yellow to yellowish-green (not quite the vivid green I went with). All you'll need to pipe this hardy prairie grass is medium consistency royal icing, oval tip #55, round tip #5, a glue stick, parchment paper squares, a flower nail, and a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Pipe the stem with the #5 tip. I piped it as though it were a drop string; holding the tip above the surface and allowing the icing to smoothly pour out as I moved the tip along in a gentle arc. At the end, I stopped pressure, touched the tip to the surface, and pulled the tip away.
 Switch to the #55 tip, and pipe a "V" at the curved end. One side should overlap the other.
 Repeat all the way down the stem…
 …taking care to keep the sides in "V" formation; I had a tendency to allow them to get too flat.
 At the bottom, though, I made sure those final two shots of icing were nice and "V"-shaped to finish the grass head off. I also filled in a little gap that looked weak with a shot of icing; it could have broken after the parchment is pulled away when the icing is dry. These could be piped in yellow to represent wheat as part of a harvest-themed dessert, or any cake or cupcake to do with farms, prairies, etc.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Royal Icing Coast Rhododendron

The coast rhododendron has been the official state flower of Washington since 1959. It's found along the coast (big surprise), but also extends through the Cascade Mountain Range. The flowers vary in shades from white to vivid pink, and grow in clusters on bushes. You'll need to use a lily nail, so pipe plenty of flowers in advance to give them time to dry thoroughly before peeling away the foil. You can place them inside an empty cardboard egg carton to give them some support while they're drying. Look at the royal icing jessamine to see how to get the lily nail to this step:
 Pipe five petals with a #104 petal tip. To make 5 somewhat evenly-spaced petals, start by piping a "V." Try not to squeeze too much when the tip is at the bottom of the cup; the less icing that collects down there, the better (it'll take longer than a week to dry, depending on your climate, if the icing builds up too much in the middle). When you pipe the petals, move your hand in a narrow, upside down "U" motion with the narrow end of the tip facing outward.
 Pipe a third petal in the middle of the "V."
 Rotate the nail around and pipe the remaining two petals.
 Touch your fingertips to a dusting pouch to subtly taper the petals' tips. Switch to a round #3 tip and pipe a cluster of stamens in the middle. Hold the tip at a right angle to and just above the center, squeeze, pull up, stop pressure, and pull away. You might want to dust the edges with deep pink Color Dust after the icing has dried or use a striped bag to pipe them.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Royal Icing Cottonwood Leaf

The cottonwood tree was designated the official state tree of Kansas in 1937. They have triangular to diamond-shaped leaves, which are rather beautiful; I think they'd be stunning on a cake commemorating Kansas (or even something to do with Valentine's day, because in the photos I've seen they look like hearts). All you'll need are green medium-consistency royal icing, leaf tip #104, a glue stick, parchment paper squares, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, round toothpicks, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 blend of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Hold the #104 tip almost flat against the surface. Without moving the tip, squeeze so the icing curls over itself, then move the tip along for about 3/4"…
 …then stop pressure and pull the tip away.
 Touch your fingertips to the dusting pouch and define/taper the tip of the leaf. Sometimes I like to use the surface of my fingernails to achieve that gentle, inward curve of the edge.
 Press the side of the tip of a round toothpick into the edge to make it jagged. Dust the toothpick first so it won't stick to the icing. Leave the curved top and the tapered tip of the leaf smooth; only make the sides jagged.
 Press the side of the toothpick into the surface to form veins, radiating outward and downward from the center ridge. When the icing is dry, peel away the parchment. If you're representing a cottonwood in fall, be sure to use yellow icing!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Royal Icing Diana Fritillary Butterfly

Tonight's project is the official butterfly of Arkansas, the Diana Fritillary butterfly. I should specify, this is the male; the female is black with blue and white markings. All you'll need is stiff consistency royal icing in orange and black, a brown food-safe marker like the AmeriColor Gourmet Writer, a glue stick, parchment paper squares, a flower nail, a Styrofoam brick to rest the nail in, petal tip #104, and round tip #4 and #2. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
Hold the #104 tip almost flat against the surface, and pipe 4 round petals in classic "butterfly" formation. 
 Allow this shape to dry. Use the dark brown marker to paint in a sort of "inkblot" in the middle…
 …with lines radiating outward…
 …and dots in between them.
 Using the #4 tip, pipe the body. Hold the tip at a 45 degree angle, and pulse your hand in and out as you pipe so the body will appear segmented
 Rotate the nail around and pipe a ball for the head.
 Switch to the #2 tip and pipe the antennae. Definitely a good butterfly for fall!



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Royal Icing Raccoon

If you've made an excessively large batch of gray icing and are trying to think of ways to get rid of it, look no further than the official state wild animal of Tennessee, the raccoon (also the official garbage-eating pest of my backyard). To pipe raccoons you'll need stiff consistency royal icing in gray and black, parchment paper squares, a flower nail, a glue stick, a Styrofoam brick to rest the nail in, a black food-safe marker like the AmeriColor Gourmet Writer, round tips #12, #10, and #2, oval tip #55, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch. Start by sticking a parchment square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Attach the #12 tip to the bag of gray icing. Hold it at a 45 degree angle to and just above the surface. Pipe until a ball forms, then move the tip along for about half an inch. Stop pressure and pull the tip away.
 Touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch and gently tap the peak to blunt it.
 Switch to the #55 tip and pipe four short legs, tucked in against the body and extending slightly out in front.
 Switch to the #10 tip to pipe the tail. Hold the tip flat alongside the surface of the nail and just a millimeter or so away from the body. Squeeze, then rotate the nail while piping so the tail is snug against the body. Stop pressure and pull the tip away, leaving the peak.
 Here's another view. You could pipe it so the tail is straight, but appendages like that always worry me because they're more likely to break off.
 Also use the #10 tip to pipe the head. Hold the tip close to the surface, squeeze out a ball, then pull the tip away while stopping pressure.
 Dust your fingertips by touching them to the dusting pouch, then gently pinch the head into more of a wedge shape.
 Here's a side view:
 Switch to the #55 tip to pipe the ears. I also had to re-pipe the legs, which had gotten buried as the icing settled (we're having an especially foggy night here; not the best climate for piping with royal icing).
Allow the icing to dry for about 15 minutes, and then move on to the marker. Start by dabbing in the rings on the tail…
 …and some claws…
 …and some rounded diamonds for the mask.
 Lastly, use the #2 tip to pipe a dot for the nose and two dots for the eyes. If only raccoons were this size, I wouldn't worry every time they show up that they're going to have their way with my cat.