Monday, July 9, 2012

Royal Icing Dragonfly

I've gotten a request or two for insects; usually butterflies. There's something rather "a dime a dozen" about butterflies in cake decorating, so I thought I'd try something different: a dragonfly. I started by piping a few wings on a parchment paper square. To make this shape, hold a round #8 tip just above the paper's surface, and squeeze while sliding the tip along for about an inch or so at a 90 degree angle. As you move the tip along, decrease the pressure to taper the wing to a gently rounded point. 
 You'll need four of them for each dragonfly.
 I piped the dragonfly out of stiff consistency royal icing colored Electric Blue; I wish I had more opportunities to use this striking color! First, I piped a #5 ball for the head, which I then pinched into more of a wedge shape after touching my fingertips to a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of cornstarch and powdered sugar.
 Then I held the tip at a 45 degree angle against the side of the head, and piped the top part of the body by moving the tip along and piping steadily for about 1/3". Stop pressure and pull the tip away. If a peak remains, touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch and tap it down.
 Pipe a series of balls to form the tail (er, the abdomen). Tuck the tip just under each ball as you pipe the next ball so they'll be firmly attached to each other.

 Switch to a round #3 tip and pipe those two tiny pointy things at the tip of the tail (I studied an anatomical sketch of a dragonfly and am still not certain what purpose they serve…but I can guess).
Pipe two oval eyes on the head. They're basically two short lines that have been flattened slightly.
Once all the pieces have firmed up (a process that can be sped up a bit by placing them under a desk lamp), attach the four wings with dots of icing…
 …and brush them with Pearl Dust, if you like. As delicate as this creature was, now I'm stoked to pipe more insects!

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