White glaze/icing that dries firm and shiny but not hard?

This seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world, but I have never been able to make a glaze/icing of the sort you get on a bakery cinnamon roll - white, opaque, glossy and firm but not hard like royal icing. Internet searches reveal a million “recipes” for a basic powdered sugar/milk glaze, but I have never gotten the results I am looking for with those two ingredients - my glazes always ends up semi-translucent and sticky. So, what’s the secret? Melted butter? Shortening? Corn syrup? Thanks in advance for your help, bakers!

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Depending on the bakery and the style of rolls, some cinnamon roll icing contains cream cheese. But it’s often rather gooey, so I’m not sure whether it’s what you’re after.

No, as much as I love the cream cheese variety of this icing, it stays gooey, which is not what I want for the specific application I have in mind. The icing I want dries with a smooth, shiny surface that is firm enough to touch gently without getting icing on your fingers, but not rock hard like royal icing. If you were to press your finger into it the thin, dry surface layer would break and the icing underneath would still be soft.


Just made this and the glaze is not white but does dry to a soft consistency.
Seems easy to switch fats and syrups to get a paler version.

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Interesting - that recipe incorporates both fat AND liquid sugar. I wonder if a bit of melted shortening or butter and a touch of corn syrup would work the same way. Worth a shot!

I was going to suggest corn syrup …

It’s partially a matter of ratio, you need very little liquid to a fair amount of powdered sugar. Powdered sugar glaze will eventually crystallize like royal icing, so you’re right to think of adding fat or liquid sugar, as those will interfere with crystallization.

American buttercream (butter beaten w/ powdered sugar & flavor plus a little liquid) should form a crust but stay soft. You could add more milk to make it a looser, more glaze-like consistency if you want to slather it over cinnamon rolls (rather than needing it stiff enough to stay on the sides of a cake)

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If you like coconut, coconut butter will be glazey but not drippy.
Butter def gives the icing stiffer body.
But when I use the powdered sugar/milk version I trickle in tiny amount of milk because the powdered sugar soaks up the liquid so easily.

I’m wondering if the bakeries use fondant icing, which is even finer than confectioner’s sugar and doesn’t have the cornstarch.

An alternative is to add some boiling water to the CF and strain it, which allegedly removes the cornstarch. I saw it in a frosting video; the cook said that since the cornstarch is gone so is the gritty mouth feel in American buttercream. (I happen to like that mouth feel, but I thought the video was interesting.)

I’ve only seen this on YouTube so I don’t know if it works.

The cornstarch couldn’t truly be gone of course, because it doesn’t just evaporate; but it would feel gone because the boiling water makes it gel, just as when using it to thicken something.

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ATK uses corn syrup and heavy cream to get that effect, but it’s mostly the corn syrup from my experience. I use cream cheese these days, but that changes the flavor and I suspect the gums in cream cheese are helping the icing set like that. Another option is coconut oil, but that works better in cooler months. However, be aware some people are really sensitive to coconut flavor, even in triple-filtered coconut oil.

I have used a small amount of softened plain cream cheese in the glaze and wind up with creamy, shiny and tacky glaze-never hard or crackly.

Do you mean glucose or invert sugar? I saw dried glucose syrup available in shop, are they the same as those sold in syrup form?

I believe atomized (dry) glucose is the same as liquid glucose except for being spray-dried.

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Thanks! Going to get the dry one in this case. Takes less space for storage.

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