Hi All

 

I really need help please!

 

I am doing a big biscuit project at the moment, but I have a seriously problem and I have tried different techniques.

 

When I am flooding the biscuits with the coloured icing (I use natural food colours) blue (spirulina) Pink (beetroot and paprika) Ivory (Paprika and Safflower) they tend to mottle after 48 hours drying. I have no idea what is happening, I have read something about the humidity in the air and too loose icing.

 

My royal icing contains:

Egg whites

Icing sugar

lemon juice

Natural food colour

Water (for the flooding which I find very stiff also after using water)

 

I have made a few experiments where I have dried the icing in the oven on a very low temperature (50 in 45 minutes) and the colours are mottling still.

I have tried without the lemon juice in the icing, but the colours are still mottling.

I have tried to just air dry (sometimes they mottle and sometimes not)

I have tried to dry them under a fan (seems not to mottle much)

 

Does anybody have a suggestion to what I can do? or any good advise for what is working for you?

 

I am looking very much forward to your responses!

 

Kind regards,
Laura

Original Post

I would guess that your flood icing is too loose and/or is taking too long to dry, so the colors have time to mottle or bleed before they set up. Try a thicker icing and speed-drying in front of a fan (as you have) or in a dehydrator (better temperature control than in an oven).

 

I'm also wondering if you have this same trouble with artificial colors, or just the natural? Maybe there's something about the composition of the natural colors that causes them to take longer to dry??

Hi Julia

 

We already have a pretty thick icing which takes long to spread out, how thick can you make a flood icing?

 

I have tried to search for a dehydrator on the internet, but I am not very experienced with these and don't really know what you can use for cookies, all seems to be for fruit? The fan seems to work fine, but we are going to do like 10.000 cookies a week and then I don't think it will work with the fan for a longer time..

 

To be honest we have not really tried with the artificial colours, we prefer to use so natural ingredients as possible, but maybe they are easier to work with. We have been in contact with supplier for the natural food colours, but there should not be anything which could get the colour to mottle (other than the lemon juice, which I have tried to take out - and they still mottled)

 

I am just wondering why it is only the biscuits which we oven dried that mottled this time and not the fan dried ones.. hmm

 

Laura

 

You can take flood icing as thick as you want, as long as it spreads smoothly.

 

As for dehydrators, there is an entire post on this site about which ones are the best to buy for cookies (pros and cons of various models). Check it out; it explains a lot: http://cookieconnection.juliau...ator-recommendations

 

Without being there to see what you did, it's very hard to say why one mottled and the other did not . . . there are many variables (ambient conditions being just one), so even the time of day could have influenced the outcome. Or perhaps the cookies that you dried in the oven got too hot and some of the oils leached into the icing? Or perhaps the icing consistencies were a little different? Or maybe you dried one longer than another?? You see my point.

 

But the quick answer is: the faster an icing sets, the less likely colors are to bleed or mottle. And the thicker the icing to start, the faster it sets (as there is less water in it to evaporate).

I find it very difficult to find out what's wrong with the icing, there comes fat spots from the biscuit in the icing when I have dried the biscuits in the oven. I have tried to make a fat reduced biscuit recipe and will test the royal icing more. I WILL figure out how to get this done also with the natural food colours.

 

Julia - regarding the dehydrator, It seems like all of them have shelves with lattice in them - is this for any reason?

 

Kind regards,

Laura

Originally Posted by Laura.Hansen:

I find it very difficult to find out what's wrong with the icing, there comes fat spots from the biscuit in the icing when I have dried the biscuits in the oven. I have tried to make a fat reduced biscuit recipe and will test the royal icing more. I WILL figure out how to get this done also with the natural food colours.

 

Julia - regarding the dehydrator, It seems like all of them have shelves with lattice in them - is this for any reason?

 

Kind regards,

Laura

 

Yeah, the shelving is open/lattice framework, so the air can circulate between layers of cookies/food and more evenly dry them. Some dehydrators also come equipped with mats that fit over the lattice racks, so that if you have teeny things that might slip through the rack slats, they won't. I hardly ever (if ever) use those mats; I just place my cookies on the lattice racks.

Understood. I imagine they won't dry as evenly - and the dehydrator racks are usually a very certain size. Sheet trays wouldn't fit some of them (like Nesco), but they might others (like Excalibur). Anyway, no harm in giving it a try.

If you're using egg whites, I'd recommend adding cream of tartar with your powdered sugar, which stabilizes the egg whites. I used to have that fat-bleed problem often when I used an egg-white based royal icing (instead of meringue powder based). The fat bleed was exacerbated by too thin flood icing and a warm, sunny window. Since I switched to using meringue powder and a thicker flood, I haven't had any problems with fat bleed. Good luck!

Originally Posted by Dany's Cakes:

If you're using egg whites, I'd recommend adding cream of tartar with your powdered sugar, which stabilizes the egg whites. I used to have that fat-bleed problem often when I used an egg-white based royal icing (instead of meringue powder based). The fat bleed was exacerbated by too thin flood icing and a warm, sunny window. Since I switched to using meringue powder and a thicker flood, I haven't had any problems with fat bleed. Good luck!

Personally, I think your success has more to do with using a thicker flooding icing. I use an egg white-based icing, and have made it both with and without cream of tartar, and rarely have bleed issues. I only do when the icings are too thin or the cookies are super buttery. The cream of tartar is a stabilizer of egg white foams like true meringues, but I mix my royal icing very thick to start so the cream of tartar has negligible impact on its stability.

Hard to tell with out really seeing your icing, however I have seen "Sugar Blooms" make white and or uneven darker spots on cookies flooded with royal icing back when I worked with the FD&C food colors. We solved this problem for a manufacturer by having them increase the blending time of their icing. Don't know if this is the problem involved here but I hope it helps!

Originally Posted by Natural Color Guy:

Hard to tell with out really seeing your icing, however I have seen "Sugar Blooms" make white and or uneven darker spots on cookies flooded with royal icing back when I worked with the FD&C food colors. We solved this problem for a manufacturer by having them increase the blending time of their icing. Don't know if this is the problem involved here but I hope it helps!

Thanks, Natural Color Guy - great to see you on the site!

It's nice to be here :-) I may not be a renowned  sugar artist but I have many years problem solving food color issues or what some believed to be a color related problem and was found to be something else.

 

I remember another case where ginger bread sheets or "building slabs were showing different shades of green when the flooded royal icing dried, it was determined that the cookie was pulling the moisture from the royal icing and causing the color to mottle with uneven color.

 

In this case the solution was to simply very lightly spray surface of the gingerbread with a simple sugar water mixture before flooding to even the drying process with out the cookie drawing the moisture in too quickly.

Originally Posted by Natural Color Guy:

It's nice to be here :-) I may not be a renowned  sugar artist but I have many years problem solving food color issues or what some believed to be a color related problem and was found to be something else.

 

I remember another case where ginger bread sheets or "building slabs were showing different shades of green when the flooded royal icing dried, it was determined that the cookie was pulling the moisture from the royal icing and causing the color to mottle with uneven color.

 

In this case the solution was to simply very lightly spray surface of the gingerbread with a simple sugar water mixture before flooding to even the drying process with out the cookie drawing the moisture in too quickly.

Interesting again! Something I wouldn't have thought to try. Most cookiers seem to think that mottling of color is related to butter leaching into the icing from the cookie or the icing drying too slowly so that the colors have time to "migrate" before they set. But you seem to be suggesting something quite the opposite - that cookies can act as "sponges", drawing moisture away from the icing and thus causing spotting. So rather than something leaching into the icing, you're suggesting something (water) being taken out unevenly. Or there being too little water in some areas rather than too much overall. 

 

What say you about the butter leaching theory? And the too wet/too long to dry theory? 

The butter or shortening theory may have merit, however fat content migrating through a water based field seems unlikely unless the cookie is still hot or liquid oil was used. Again there are so many variables and each one would need to be eliminated.  With a dry surface a lightly sprayed simple syrup coating will "encapsulate the cookie surface with a protective barrier.

 

If you are using a quality color like the AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste, then it is probably not the color causing the problem, however less advanced secondary and tertiary color systems may separate into primary their stages.

Interesting info here!

 

We are doing a trial with different techniques next week. We will be oven drying, air drying and fan drying and then look what happens. even with a fat reduced recipe.

 

I find it very strange that this problem is coming sometimes when we have done some perfect cookies about 2 moths ago without use of dehydrator, meringues powder or anything else than just the normal recipe.  

 

I will however still look after a dehydrator and if we have no luck we will have to try meringue powder or something

Originally Posted by Laura.Hansen:

Interesting info here!

 

We are doing a trial with different techniques next week. We will be oven drying, air drying and fan drying and then look what happens. even with a fat reduced recipe.

 

I find it very strange that this problem is coming sometimes when we have done some perfect cookies about 2 moths ago without use of dehydrator, meringues powder or anything else than just the normal recipe.  

 

I will however still look after a dehydrator and if we have no luck we will have to try meringue powder or something

Again, maybe it's the colors you're using?? I use eggs and not meringue powder and rarely have mottling trouble. I think you can also get cookies too hot with some of these drying techniques and run into some color trouble (or cracking of the icing), so I always minimize time in the dehydrator - just 5 to 10 minutes, enough to set the outer layer.

Originally Posted by Laura.Hansen:

PS. Would the flooding icing be okay if we use the 10 sec rule?

 

Not sure. Honestly, I find the various "second rules" sort of inconsistent/unreliable in their application and never use them. Everyone counts at different speeds; it's easy to lose focus when counting or to start counting earlier or later than you did the last time; you typically need a looser flood icing to cover a larger cookie without leaving tracks, but you can get away with a thicker one on smaller cookies . . . I have certain ratios of water to icing "glue" (my starting icing recipe/thickness) that I think work more reliably. But after a while, it just comes down to how the icing looks and feels. I push it as thick as it can go on a given cookie, or in a given area, without leaving tracks.

Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:

Laura Hansen, Maybe you should also try Natural Color Guy's sugar syrup spray suggestion? I'd be really curious to see/hear how that works for you.

Will take a look into that as well. Is there any special recipe Natural Colour Guy?

 

I see what you mean Julia regarding to the flood icing. I wish we could do it that way, but when we are a whole factory doing this over and over again and it is not always the same person that would be during it, then it is not very easy to put up a consistence that we can't really explain "normal" people in the production whom is not experts or very interested in this icing subject. If you see what I am talking about. I wonder how other people do this?!

 

 

Originally Posted by Laura.Hansen:
Originally Posted by Julia M. Usher:

Laura Hansen, Maybe you should also try Natural Color Guy's sugar syrup spray suggestion? I'd be really curious to see/hear how that works for you.

Will take a look into that as well. Is there any special recipe Natural Colour Guy?

 

I see what you mean Julia regarding to the flood icing. I wish we could do it that way, but when we are a whole factory doing this over and over again and it is not always the same person that would be during it, then it is not very easy to put up a consistence that we can't really explain "normal" people in the production whom is not experts or very interested in this icing subject. If you see what I am talking about. I wonder how other people do this?!

 

 

I had a shop for 10 years where we did large-scale production, so my decorators started learning with my formulas (ratios of water to "glue") that I gave them. Once they acquired a natural feel for the icing, they were able to work on feel and sight and without the formula. But if counting works for you, then by all means . . .

I'm a little late to this conversation, but I used to have problems with mottling also.  I use pasteurized egg whites and confectioner's sugar only.  I figured out that when I thinned the icing with water it mottled. If I need to thin it now I use more egg white and I have not ever had that problem again.  I use various types of dyes, mostly Wilton and AmeriColor, and was having trouble with both until I stopped using the water.  I mix my icing a little on the thinner side and then add extra sugar until it's the correct consistency. Hope this helps!

I just wanted to come with a little update for you.

 

We have now tried a lot of different things, some better than others, but we have not found any good solution yet.

 

I have air dried, fan dried, oven dried in 2 different ovens. I have tried with Meringue powder, with sugar spray, the icing is thick, I have tried 2 different suppliers and It is pretty much a nightmare haha. I have even tried with a normal VS fat reduced biscuit, which did not help either.

 

This time the mottle started already 24 hours after icing, it has been sunny and no raining.

 

We are trying again Monday and maybe we should try to thin the icing with egg white instead of water on some of the biscuits.

Sounds like thinning with egg whites may be your last resort (thinning that way makes a lot of sense, since it's the protein in the whites that causes the icing to set faster). I've had a lot of success with the thickest possible icing, Chefmaster colors. and a dehydrator (which I sometimes use and sometimes don't), but it sounds like you've tried most of these things. I wish you success with this last test.

Originally Posted by Laura.Hansen:

I just wanted to come with a little update for you.

 

We have now tried a lot of different things, some better than others, but we have not found any good solution yet.

 

I have air dried, fan dried, oven dried in 2 different ovens. I have tried with Meringue powder, with sugar spray, the icing is thick, I have tried 2 different suppliers and It is pretty much a nightmare haha. I have even tried with a normal VS fat reduced biscuit, which did not help either.

 

This time the mottle started already 24 hours after icing, it has been sunny and no raining.

 

We are trying again Monday and maybe we should try to thin the icing with egg white instead of water on some of the biscuits.

Any luck with the egg whites instead of water?

I'm sorry, I can't be of much more help; I just don't have the kind of trouble you're having when working with my icing recipe at a relatively thick consistency (though thinned with water) and quick-setting with a dehydrator. 

 

The only variable you don't appear to have played with is the food coloring itself. Perhaps it's your coloring that's the issue?! Have you tried any other brands?

 

Here's my royal icing recipe for what it's worth: https://www.juliausher.com/blog/more/royal_icing

 

Best of luck.

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