No, this is not a post about me meeting a member of the royal family and saying something dumb. Interesting I should say that, actually, because I did have a dream the other night that Prince William called me up and asked me out. I don't know how I knew it was him, but I just did, because somehow I could also "see" him on the other end of the phone, and he looked a lot more like his hotter, 16-year-old self (that is to say, he had hair) than his less attractive 28-ish year old self. I was not, however, delusional enough to believe it could really be true, because after we'd chatted and flirted and agreed to go out with him, I kept saying "Is this really Prince William? Really? Is this really Prince William?" Ahh, good to know that even in my sleep I'm a babbling, incoherent mess around men!
So, now for the REAL story.
Today I finally decided to have a crack at royal icing. I'm talking the fancy-schmantzy, beautiful piped stuff you often see on old-fashioned wedding cakes. I happen to think that style is absolutely gorgeous, but the masses appear to be addicted to rolled sugarpaste icing for some reason that I can't quite explain.
I know it was dumb of me to think that this was the sort of thing that anyone could possibly be naturally talented at, but in my heart of hearts I hoped that I was the Da Vinci of royal icing. How wrong I was. No, as it turns out, I am more like the Picasso of royal icing, or perhaps even the Dali. Sigh.
I can't say that I'm actually surprised that it all went horribly, horribly wrong, because I have never had a lesson in royal icing, and no amount of reading will prepare you for the shock. I also don't think it helped that I found four or five different variations on the recipe, and I suspect that I ended up using the kind most commonly found in floodwork on gingerbread men or for gluing gingerbread houses together. Next time I intend to make a cake out of a cake decorating book and follow the instructions letter for letter, word by word.
Having provided a very suitable excuse for the crappiness of my icing (besides the fact I'm just not used to holding a piping bag), I am now less reticent to share the embarrassment that is the cakes I decorated (I baked two miniature ones to practice on, and two cupcakes). Remember that the icing is far too runny to hold its form, and with that in mind, I kind of did okay. I was seriously wondering whether I'd delusionally thought I could do certain techniques with royal icing that can normally only be done with buttercream, but the Wilton section on royal icing put my mind at ease. It also showed me that I whipped it for about five to seven minutes shy of what I should have. Oh well, live and learn.
First up, I attempted to cover the cakes smoothly in plain white icing. FAIL. Then I had a crack at a rigid scalloped border. Suffice it to say, runny icing was never going to do the trick, therefore FAIL.