Saturday, August 4, 2012

Royal Icing Thistle

A few days ago I piped a Tudor rose, a traditional floral heraldic symbol of England. I really enjoyed doing that, so tonight's post is a thistle (the national emblem of Scotland). 
All you'll need to pipe thistles are green and purple stiff consistency royal icing, a flower nail, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, parchment paper squares, a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of powdered sugar and cornstarch, a glue stick, and round tips #12 and #3 (two of each size, if you don't want to have to constantly wash and switch the tips back and forth). Start by sticking a parchment paper square to the flower nail with a dab from the glue stick, and pipe a green base. Hold the tip at a right angle to and just above the surface, squeeze out a ball about the width of a dime, then move the tip upwards while still squeezing. When the shape is about 3/4" tall, stop pressure and pull the tip away. The shape will be reminiscent of a Hershey's Kiss.
 Touch a fingertip to the dusting pouch and tap the point flat. Pipe as many bases as you'll need. Remove from the nail with a gentle dug of the paper…
 …and pipe the purple tops. Hold the tip similarly, but pipe a ball. Squeeze steadily until the tip is about 1/2" above the surface, then stop pressure and pull the tip away. Tap the top into a round dome with a dusted fingertip.
 Place the pieces on a cookie cooling rack and put the rack someplace for them to firm up, like under a desk lamp, under the hood of an electric range, or on top of a gas stove that isn't turned on.
Move one of the green bases by the paper to the flower nail with a fresh dab from the glue stick…
 … and pipe #3 spikes all over it, except for the flattened top. Hold the tip against the surface, squeeze while moving the tip away a short distance, then stop pressure and pull the tip away. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
 I prefer to start from the bottom and work upwards, angling the points outward slightly.
 When the purple top is firmed up enough to be handled, stick it to the green base with a #12 dab of icing. Pipe #3 spikes all over it, except start in the middle and work your way outwards. I have lots of experience with this maneuver, because it's (almost) EXACTLY how I do my hair. These spikes should stand more upright than outward.
 To speed things up you could probably pipe the spikes with a grass tip, but I prefer the precision of piping them individually. I think the thistle will probably be strictly decorative; it's probably about as much fun to bite into as the hedgehog.

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