Royal Icing: Classic Drop String
There's no doubt about it, drop strings gracing the side of a cake is a thing of beauty. They add class, elegance and have the ability to take your cake to that next level of amazing.So why do we find it so daunting? Many a time I have admired the look but totally avoided putting it on any of my cakes. I had tried it free hand a couple of times and as with most of my first tries, they were uneven and inconsistent. So I thought it's not for me and concentrated on my scrolls instead. But the thoughts always been there nagging at me to find an easy way to get the consistent, so after trying many different ways, I am sharing with you the way I set up and pipe my drop strings.
1- Marking your cake
Using a template, mark your cake edge into divided sections with a scribe. I download circles online from a google search and print them off. This makes marking out your cake way quicker and more accurate.
2- Prepare your icing
For royal icing you will need a medium consistency icing, so it holds its shape well. Not too firm or you will have issues piping it, string breakage and hand cramps from having to squeeze too hard. You need to be able to pipe with ease. (For more information on icing consistency please check out my live video on my Facebook page Vintique Cakes)
3- Making your template
Using some paper, cut it to measure the length around your cake. Then trim it to the height of where you would like your first drop string to come to. In this instance I marked it 1.5cm below the cake height. This is a small cake so I chose to keep the short and sweet. There are no rules for measurements for this it's just do what you feel would suit the cake size and design. Next draw the line for the next two drop strings. I left 1cm between each line.
4- Beginning your Stringwork
Touch the tip of your piping nozzle on one of the scribe marks applying pressure to your piping bag and begin piping. Moving your tip away from the cake slightly and moving horizontal across the cake to the next scribe mark. Let gravity make the swag of the drop string allowing it to rest just above the paper template as per the picture. Don't pipe the string to the paper template , it will make it difficult to remove and damage your strings. You can use whatever size tip you like, a size 3 round will give you more bold strings where as a size 2 or 1 will give you a more refined look. I used a 1.5 pme tip for this cake as it's only a small 4".
Using the template as height guide gives you consistent drop strings every time. It does take some practice to get them uniform, and if your not happy with it remove it with a damp paint brush and start the string again. And when I say a damp paint brush I mean damp, not wet. Dip it water and brush on some paper towel to remove the excess water, as too much water can stain your cake. Be careful not to smear the drop string you are removing, try to lift it off the cake.
5- 2nd layer of drop strings
When you have completed the first layer of drop strings remove the template and trim down to the next line. This will be the guideline of your 2nd layer of drop strings. Reapply the template to the cake and begin as you did with the first layer, piping the drop strings to just above the paper template.
Once the 2nd layer of strings are complete, do the same again removing and trimming the template to the last mark and reapplying it to the cake for the last layer of drop strings.
My top tips for drop strings......
*Correct consistency royal icing. This is key to beautiful piping. *Make sure your cake is at eye level so you can see where your icing is being piped. *Remember to step back from the cake to get good look to see how even your drop strings are.
Yes stringwork takes practice, love and patience. It's a beautiful skill to acquire and well worth the effort.
Big love and sugar hugs xx Anita