Creative Ways to Decorate Cakes Using Royal Icing

These days, royal icing is most commonly associated with colorful, custom sugar cookies. But royal icing is no stranger to cakes. In fact, cakes and royal icing go way back. Remember when these bad boys were about as good as it gets?…

Seriously, thee U’s but only two S’s?

Move over crusty old icing letters, there’s a new kid in cake-decorating town. While royal icing can be fragile and sometimes hard to work with, when used correctly, it can give cakes dimension and depth without spending hours molding, shaping, and decorating a soft, flimsy cake. Royal icing decorations can also be done as far in advance as needed, freeing up that much-needed time right before the party!

These Spiderman cake decals were done weeks in advance with some leftover icing. For a quick tutorial on how to make royal icing transfers, go here. The front third of the cake was chopped off and placed on the back to create a “staircase” shape, and just before the party the royal icing was poked onto the cake. DONE. So easy.

spiderman cake royal icing birthday
Lots of BAM for just a little bit of royal icing work!

Royal icing can be piped onto objects in order to get a 3D look. These flowers were piped onto plastic Easter egg domes. Once dried, they slid right off and made for a fun and easy decoration. I’ve also done this technique with royal icing butterflies!

white cake royal icing flowers 3D
Pipe royal icing onto shapes in order to create depth.

Beware of trying to handle your royal icing before it’s completely set. The mountain in the foreground below cracked while I was trying to handle it because I hadn’t allowed it enough time to dry. Unfortunately, by then I had already placed most of my scene, so there wasn’t much to do except repair it and move on with my life. But other than that, the result isn’t too bad!

camping cake outdoor cake fondant royal icing trees mountains tent fire
Create 3D looks from 2D designs.

Sometimes, you need to get the ratios and shading just right. When my sister’s dog passed away in a tragic accident, I wanted to make a transfer that looked just like HIM, not just any border collie. A royal icing transfer worked brilliantly for this. I used a photo to get the face just right so that the kids could decorate the rest of the cake. <3

border collie cake pink white black jasper royal icing
Royal icing used for perfect dog portraits

Little ones love getting something special on their slice of cake. I love doing animal cakes that allow each child at the party to take their pick. Half a dozen colors can easily make over a dozen different zoo animals!

animal cake farm animals royal icing two tier lion sheep pig tiger
Each child gets their own zoo animal!

Beware that sometimes buttercream has enough moisture to “melt” the royal icing. The cupcakes below were beautiful when I snapped the pic, but the second I started to pack them up, the some of the flowers started falling down. The stems were too skinny and the royal icing lost its strength shortly after the moisture “melted” them. If you are doing something as delicate as a stem, be sure to make them nice and thick, or reinforce with a skewer or skinny pretzel.

Flower garden cupcakes royal icing purple
Beware of the moist buttercream that might melt your royal icing!

Aside from a layer of cream cheese frosting, these zucchini garden cupcakes were decorated almost entirely with royal icing. Create a scene that everyone will remember!

garden cupcakes royal icing
Garden cupcakes for the win…literally. I won a Cupcake Wars competition at work!

Logos can be hard to get just right, so use royal icing transfers to get them just right.

Boise State football cake royal icing transfer blue orange two tier
A tall Boise State football cake for a short little fan. 🙂

These are some of my creations from over the years. I’d love to see the creative ways that you have used royal icing on cakes!

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