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How to Cover a Cake With Royal Icing

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Royal icing is considered one of the more difficult icings to use, but it just requires a little practice. It would be a shame to never have a go at making your own royal icing as it gives you a smooth, hard surface that's perfect for decorating.  Here's a recipe and detailed instructions for you to use the next time you have a baking day:

Royal Icing Recipe

This recipe is perfect for a 20cm cake.


  • 2 medium egg whites
  • 525g icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Pour the egg whites into a medium bowl and beat with an electric whisk for a few minutes until they begin to foam.
  2. Add the icing sugar and continue to whisk until the mixture is thick and shiny.
  3. Add the lemon juice and whisk for a few more minutes until you reach a soft peak stage.
  4. Keep the finished icing covered with a damp towel until you're ready to use it. This prevents it from drying out.

Cake Preparation

Covering your cake with a layer of marzipan before icing it will give you a smooth surface to spread the icing over. Follow these steps to cover a 20cm cake:

  1. Combine a tablespoon of water with 4 tablespoons of apricot jam and bring to the boil in a small pan. Pass the boiled jam through a fine sieve to remove any chunks.
  2. Use a pastry brush to apply the strained apricot jam to the surface of the cake just before you cover it. The jam helps the marzipan adhere to your cake.
  3. You'll need 500g of marzipan to cover your cake. Roll it out until you have a sheet large enough to cover the top and sides of your cake.
  4. Gently lift the marzipan and place it on top of the cake. Use a cake smoother or palette knife to smooth it down the sides of the cake.
  5. Trim the excess marzipan away from the base of the cake with a sharp knife and wait 24 hours before icing the cake, which will give the marzipan time to dry.

Icing the Top & Sides

You'll need to give your cake two coats of royal icing to ensure a smooth finish. Start by placing a few tablespoons of royal icing on the top of your cake and spread it out with a palette knife. You can minimise air bubbles by working from the centre of the cake out to the edge and back to the centre again. If you do get a few small air bubbles, bust them with a tooth pick. Once you've covered the top of your cake, draw an icing ruler over it to smooth any clumps. Wipe any spilled icing off the sides of the cake and leave it to dry for 2-3 hours before icing the sides.

Use a palette knife and the same backwards and forwards spreading technique to apply icing to the sides of your cake. Once completely covered, use a cake side scraper to gently smooth out any uneven sections of icing. Scrape away any icing that's made its way from the side to the top of the cake and leave to dry for at least 8 hours before applying the second coat.

Royal icing is ideal for covering Madeira cake and fruit cake, so give it a try the next time you're making a cake for a special occasion. For more cake frosting tips, consult with expert resources such as Cookies and More.