During my first experience at the National Capital Area Cake Show, I did a lot more than just make a cake and bake up a storm for a cupcake contest. At the weekend’s events I also visited many booths and demonstrations to gather more ideas for the bakery. I had seen this “brush embroidery” on the Cake Boss earlier in the year and was interested in it for a while now, plus it’s a good way to improve my piping skillz! So I watched some demos and brought my new found knowledge home to practice!
So what is “Brush Embroidery”? Basically, all it is is Royal Icing (the icing that gets really hard on cakes; it usually makes the flowers) piped out into different shapes and then you take a damp food safe paint brush and press down into the icing and pull it out and across the surface to make that desired effect. Since I was only practicing this new technique I didn’t want to waste any good homemade cookies, so instead I used wax paper. I highly recommend doing this test round a few times before diving into a batch of cookies. This way I could mess around with lines, squiggles, filling in sections, whatever I wanted and not have to feel bad about messing up a cookie.
Later when I was happy with what I had figured out in terms of drying time, thickness of the Royal Icing and what brush I liked best I went ahead an baked a 1/4 batch of my moms shortbread cookies! Time to decorate.
Helpful things that you will need to start are: wax paper, paper towel, 1/8-1/4” wide paint brush (food safe), cup of water, and tooth picks.
To start make sure you have dipped your brush into some water and then dabbed dry. This helps smooth out the icing as you pull it out and across, but too much water will actually melt the icing so be sure to dab ALL remaining water out of bristles (again that is why you do a few on the wax paper- you’ll figure out how much water is enough or too much with just a few strokes).
Go ahead and pipe out small sections of the design that you are making. *If you pipe out too much it will sit out too long and harden before you and the paint brush ever get there. Royal icing is supposed to dry and harden quickly, so just remember less is more, and work in small sections.
The length of the brushed icing will depend on the angle of your brush and where you started the tip of the brush within the icing line. I tended to like the effect that it makes when I brushed over almost the entire line of icing. I saw it done 3 different ways at the cake show and this was one option. Other bakers brushed over the entire line of icing and then after finishing the entire design went back and re-piped a new/clean and very thin outline on top of the brushed effect. I also saw another lady who started her tip about half way across the icing line and this technique left a strong outline look to the design without having to go back over. Again, it’s going to be all about what you like and what you happen to be better at, they all look nice and add a lot of character to just an iced cookie.
The clean up is easy too! From all of the messes that I make in the kitchen, this is the smallest one yet!
Here are a few samples of what I came up with:
What makes these treats even greater is that all it takes is a little plastic wrap and a little bit of ribbon and these cookies wrap up to be sweet gifts for someone unexpected!
Go ahead, you can do it!!