We’ve all been there… Having fun decorating with royal icing until the piping tip clogs up. A zen experience becomes a frustrating one. (Okay zen might be going a bit too far, but I find decorating an enjoyable and relaxing experience).
Anyways, how can you avoid icing clogging in your piping tip?
You can use squeeze bottles instead; many people swear by them, but if you want to use a smaller hole for finer details, piping or pastry tips are ideal.
I should also mention that I’ve spoken to a few people who use parchment cones (Peggy Porschen for example), who say that the clogging generally doesn’t happen with them. I’m not a huge fan of the parchment cone though (in fact I think I’m still afraid of them), so I’m going to have to stick with piping tips.
So, here are my top tips for avoiding clogging in piping tips.
How to Prevent Royal Icing from Clogging Your Piping Tips
1. Use a sieve to sift your royal icing when you’re making it.
2. If your royal icing has meringue powderor cream of tartar like one of the recipes I use (click here), make sure the little bits and balls of meringue are all dissolved before you add the icing sugar.
3. It’s best to use fresh icing. The longer it sits, the more time it has to separate.
The water and icing sugar separate; meaning that you can be left with a somewhat dry layer of icing sugar and a watery layer. You’ll have to mix it up again to use it, and it’s difficult to make sure it’s perfectly smooth.
If you do end up keeping your icing for a few days or more, I’d recommend putting it back in your mixer quickly before you use it, to try and ensure all ‘lumps’ are out.
4. Gently paddle the icing with a spatula to ensure or double-check that all lumps or bumps are gone. This can easily be done with smaller batches of icing you’re coloring. If you’ve followed the previous steps there are usually none.
5. Use a nylon to ‘sift’ the icing. Yes, a clean, never-been-used-before stocking or nylon!
I’d heard of the tip from my talented cookie decorator friend, TracyLH, before and saw it demonstrated at a piping class I took at the Bonnie Gordon School. Jenny Maw, our instructor showed us how:
a) Begin by putting the icing into the nylon, but don’t push it down all the way to the end (or the foot). Keep it about mid-way. Hold on to the nylon by the ‘foot’ and the ‘opening’. Here’s what that looks like:
b) Put the ‘nylon ball of icing’ into the opening of your piping bag, close the opening by squeezing your hand shut over it, and pull on the nylon so that the icing squeezes through the nylon and into the bag.
Voila! Ready to go!
Now, I don’t do this for all my icing – it would take way too long! It’s great for the tiny tips; #000, #00and #1 and was perfect for the finer piping we were doing in the Bonnie Gordon School Piping Class.
Here’s an example of royal icing lacework I made there.
6. Rest your decorating tips in a damp cloth or damp paper towel between uses to prevent the icing in the tip from crusting over. Alternatively, use coupler covers, or, if using squeeze bottles, remember to seal the opening with the lid.
6b. Make your icing a little bit runnier than the usual 10 second rule icing. (See 10 Second Rule Video)
What To Do If Your Piping Tip Has Clogged
Okay, so it’s happened – you’re piping tip is clogged. What should you do to fix the problem? Here are 4 quick tips:
One more quick note; avoid trying to just squeeze and force the icing out. The piping bag can pop, especially if you’re using a disposable bag.
I hope you liked these! Let me know what you think or drop me a line sharing some of your own tips in the comment section. Would love to hear from you!