When I first started making royal icing using an egg white substitute, I couldn’t find ‘meringue powder’ in South Africa (not easily) I had to import it from America. Then I discovered actiwhite powder, which is the South African version of meringue powder. It is slightly different to meringue powder, so I couldn’t use the same recipe. It took many attempts, but I finally got the recipe right.
I now always use the actiwhite powder when I make royal icing, I find it has a much better consistency, a longer shelf life and I do not need to store the royal icing in the fridge. Obviously it also eliminates the risk of salmonella.
If you can’t find actiwhite in your area, omit the powder and water and add 140ml of fresh egg white to your icing sugar, and follow the recipe.
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Our Royal Icing Recipe
2 tbsp Actiwhite powder (also known as meringue powder)
140ml room temp water
1kg icing sugar
½ tsp Cream of tartar
Place 2 tbsp of Actiwhite powder and 140ml water into the bowl, mix it together so that the powder granules can dissolve. Be careful not to over mix. Let it stand for 10-15 minutes.
While the actiwhite is resting. Sift your 1kg of icing sugar into your mixer bowl. Always sift your icing sugar to prevent any future blockages in your nozzles. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of cream of tartar to your sifted icing sugar.
Now add the actiwhite mixture to your icing sugar. Keep the mixer on a low speed until all the icing is mixed together, then turn it onto high and beat for about a minute until the royal icing is thick. I always like to use my K – beater rather than the whisk beater, I find that the whisk beater incorporates too much air into the icing creating a spongy icing, which isn’t great for mixing up icing consistencies at a later stage.
Once your icing is thick & shiny, it’s ready to use. Don’t over mix your icing as this leads to all sorts of drying problems. It must be soft or stiff peak, depending on what you are planning to use it for. Remember you have to mix your icing into different consistencies when icing your biscuits.
Flooding consistency – similar to shampoo consistency, this outlines and fills the biscuit.
Piping consistency – similar to toothpaste consistency, this is for the detail.
Stencil consistency – very thick (2 tablespoons of thick icing, add 2 drops of water) but it must have a slight shine to it otherwise it’ll be dry and won’t smooth over your stencil nicely.
Storing your icing
I store my icing in plastic tubs. Icing dries incredibly fast, as soon as it comes into contact with air. Make sure you always keep your icing covered with a tight fitting lid. I store my royal icing on a shelf in a cupboard (not in the fridge) Royal icing has a long shelf life. But fresh icing is always best.
Happy baking & biscuit making