The Ideal Royal Icing
Mother Batch

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I like to start out with a very stiff royal icing mother batch that I then thin with water to the required consistency. And I use this mother batch - instead of powdered sugar - to thicken royal icing if needed.

This is important, mainly if you thicken just a small batch. If powdered sugar is used instead, one changes the ratio of egg white to sugar and thus the icing texture. It can also contain small clumps when the sugar is not mixed in well. And mixing the royal icing further can add more air, too.

Use the mother batch to thicken
small amounts of royal icing

to prevent changing its texture.

More on consistencies, coloring royal icing, storing it, etc. later.

Important Aspects
Of an Easy to Work With Royal Icing

What you don't want when piping intricate designs, or even just a simple outline for that matter, is that your lines break. Breaking can occur for the following reasons:

  1. When piping too slow with royal icing that is too thin, the string/line gets too heavy and will fall off.
  2. When piping too fast with thick royal icing, the string can't expand enough and is ripped apart.
  3. The royal icing is too fluffy, i.e., has too much air incorporated, and thus is either too porous and/or contains bubbles. Porous icing is less flexible, and bubbles are string dividers.

The optimal royal icing for intricate piping is a dense, cohesive icing. The best way to get this is by using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (not the whisk!) and mixing the icing at low speed.

A denser icing will also lessen color bleed (darker color bleeding into lighter ones). More on color bleed and how to lessen/prevent it later.

You can use a hand mixer on the lowest setting, but the results will be a slightly fluffier and more porous icing.

Adding a bit of corn syrup or glucose to the royal icing (1-2 teaspoons per pound) will improve its cohesiveness and help prevent line breakage even further. Make sure to add one of them (preferably corn syrup) if you use a hand mixer.

Adding corn syrup or glucose to your royal icing (as well as drying your cookies with a fan or dehydrator) will also make your dried icing look shinier.

And a less porous, glossy icing is easier to hand paint.

So let's get to the recipe...

My Royal Icing

To follow this recipe as close as possible, you will need a scale. And have a spray bottle with water and a moist cloth towel handy.

Ingredients for a Minimal Mother Batch

  • 400 grams confectioners' sugar
  • 60 grams raw egg whites
  • 1/4  teaspoon cream of tartar OR 1/8 teaspoon (1 pinch) of citric acid OR 1 teaspoon strained lemon juice


  • As mentioned above, add 1-2 teaspoons of corn syrup/glucose syrup to improve cohesiveness when using a hand mixer, for more gloss, and/or if you plan on hand-painting your work.
  • flavoring, ca. 1/2 teaspoon of extract

If you're concerned about raw egg whites in any way, then go ahead and use a substitute according to their package instructions. Ensure the measurements equal 2 large US sized or 2 medium European sized egg whites (30 grams each).


Mix the confectioners' sugar with the cream of tartar/citric acid in the mixing bowl and add the egg whites. If you use lemon juice instead of the cream of tartar, add it together with the egg whites.
Mix on low speed.

As soon as all the sugar is incorporated, spray water over the inside of the bowl (3-4 squirts). This will keep the icing from crusting over on the sides of the bowl.

Continue to mix for 6 minutes on low speed. You will see the icing turn whiter after about 2-3 minutes. This is when you add the flavoring, then continue mixing.

Mixing at high speed incorporates much air, making the icing fluffier, more porous and lines that break easier.
So for smoother piping, always mix on low speed to get a denser, more cohesive icing.

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