What is vegan royal icing? Vegan royal icing is made from aquafaba, icing sugar, water and flavorings. There are three common vegan royal icing consistencies for decorating cookies, namely stiff consistency, medium consistency and flood consistency.
Aquafaba is the water you find in cooked or canned beans. Due to its ability to mimic egg whites in baking, aquafaba can be used as a direct replacement for them when making meringues, and only with its presence can various vegan royal icing consistencies be achieved.
I make my vegan royal icing by using 5 ½ tablespoons of aquafaba per 625g icing sugar, plus some water for thinning. A PDF format step-by-step guide on how to make vegan royal icing is available in my online shop.
This is the consistency when the icing just comes off of the mixer. It has texture like cream cheese, and is spreadable and able to hold a stiff peak. I mix my icing on medium-low speed with the flat beater attachment so as to avoid incorporating too much air. While the icing will increase in volume, it turns out thick and dense.
This consistency is similar to soft ice cream which holds a soft peak. To attain this consistency, start with stiff icing and add few drops of water at a time. It doesn’t need much water to achieve this consistency, so be mindful not to add too much water all at once.
Medium consistency icing is thin enough to flow smoothly out of a small piping tip, and will not lose the shape you are piping, which makes it great for piping line details.
This is the consistency used for icing a cookie. The icing should be thin enough that it smooths out on its own within 10-15 seconds, but not so thin that it flows out the edge of the cookie.
To achieve this consistency, start with stiff icing and add a few tablespoons of water at a time. To check the consistency, take a spoonful of icing and drop it back into the bowl. It should take between 10-15 seconds for the icing to smooth itself out.
Uses – Flooding, wet-on-wet technique.
Storing Vegan Royal Icing
It’s always better to have more than enough icing than not enough, so it’s perfectly normal to have royal icing leftover. Never store the icing in the piping bags overnight, but always empty the bags into an air tight container and put the icing in a cool shady place or in the fridge.
The icing will separate after sitting for several hours, so it’ll need a good stir before use.
If you won’t be using the icing within 10 days, you can store it in the freezer. I’d recommend not storing it longer than a month, just to be on the safe side. Give it a good mix with hand or stand mixer, my vegan royal icing recipe still performs well in piping fine details after a longer period of time. You can get the recipe at the online shop.
Vegan Royal Icing Troubleshooting Tips
Icing getting too thin
If you’ve added too much water when thinning the icing, do not add more icing sugar. Instead, add a spoonful of stiff icing to thicken it back up. Always keep some stiff icing on hand for this purpose.
When making flood consistency icing, try making it half an hour ahead so that the air bubbles can rise to the surface. Then, when you’re about to use the icing, give it a light stir by hand so as to get rid of the bubbles.
Icing that is too thin can also lead to air bubbles, so it helps to keep the icing on the thick side.
When the weather is too warm, butter bleed can be a headache. This is when the oil/butter from the cookie melts just enough and gets into the vegan royal icing and make it look stained or yellow.
Unfortunately, once this happens, there’s almost nothing you can do about it. However, you may cover it up, say by painting with edible food colours over the blotchy area. If that’s not an option, as the LAST resort, you may try warming the flooded cookies in the oven at very low temperature i.e. 100 degree Celcius until the butter bleed covers the entire cookie so that you cannot tell the stained areas anymore.
To get a smooth finish on your flooded cookies, make sure to dry them in a well ventilated place, say in front of a fan or keep them in an air conditioned room.
Uneven icing may also be brought about by icing that is too thin, so be sure your flood consistency is not too runny.
Fancy my vegan royal icing recipe? You can get it at the online shop.
Read this post on more information on baking the perfect vegan sugar cookies.