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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Royal Icing Prairie Dogs

Tonight's post is a tribute to Illinois, "The Prairie State." Prairie dogs aren't the official state animal, but they're a lot easier to pipe than the white-tailed deer; they look like blobs of icing in real life, more or less! To pipe a prairie dog coterie (prairie dog-speak for "group"), you'll need stiff consistency royal icing in brown, oval tip #55, round tip #12, a flower nail, parchment paper squares, a glue stick, a Styrofoam block to rest the nail in, round toothpicks, AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste in Super Black, and a dusting pouch filled with a 50/50 mix of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Start by sticking a parchment square to the nail with a dab from the glue stick. 
 Hold the #12 tip at a 45 degree angle just above the surface. Squeeze out an elongated ball, stop pressure, and then start the pressure back up again briefly to create some difference between the body and the head. Stop pressure and pull the tip away. Touch your fingertips to the dusting pouch and taper the head a bit if you need to.
 Here are two different prairie dogs; the one on the left is taking it easy (or tensed to spring).
 Switch to the #55 oval tip and pipe the tail. Hold it against the body, squeeze, and move it away from the body for a short distance. Stop pressure and pull the tip away.
 Use the #55 tip to pipe the legs, too. The prairie dog on the left isn't showing you his hind legs. Tuck the tip against the body, squeeze briefly, and pull the tip away.
 The prairie dog on the right has all 4 legs visible, being in more of an upright position (it's all in how you angle the #12 tip when piping the body).
 When the bodies have firmed up a bit (a process you can speed up by placing them under a desk lamp), pipe the ears. They're just dabs of icing from the #55 tip, flattened slightly with a dusted fingertip.
Smash the pointed end of a round toothpick into an oval sort of shape, then dip it into a product like AmeriColor soft gel paste in Super Black and dab in the eyes. Use the pointy end to carefully paint in a tiny "v" shape for the nose.
 I think these would be really cute scuttling around all over a prairie-themed cake (or maybe an apple pie; Goldrush apples are Illinois' official state fruit).

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