Flood work (also known as run outs, transfers, Wilton color flow) is a cake decorating technique that literally runs thin royal icing or chocolate into a pre-piped design. This technique is quite precise and requires some piping skill as well as good planning to allow your outline to dry. You can either create these designs on your cake or cookies or do the entire design on a piece of acetate paper or parchment. If your design is relatively intricate with more than one color needed or layering then creating it on paper is probably the best idea.
If you want your run out to dangle off the cake or be hovering you can pipe onto wires and dowels to create the effect. This would be lovely for bumblebees, flowers, clouds, butterflies, snowflakes, stars and other accents. Flood work does not have to be incredibly intricate in order for it to be pretty. Very simple work can also provide a wonderful effect for your design projects.
Simple royal icing flood work is as follows:
- If you are making your run outs on acetate or parchment draw or trace the design first. You will be taping your acetate over the design and using it like tracing paper.
- Make your royal icing as you usually would for a project.
- If you like to use a thinner icing to flood your designs then thin out the icing to the desired consistency.
- Tint the icing to the color you need for your project, or to the colors needed and let them sit at least overnight.
- Prepare your piping bags with couplers and tips, probably number two or three round tips for outlining and number three to five round tips for flooding. Place the bags tip side down in tall drinking glasses which are narrow enough for you to drape the edges over the top of the glass, kind of like putting a garbage bag in a pail. Fill your piping bags with the icing colors and twist them shut. Place the bags back in the glasses until you are ready to use them.
- Place the cookie or prepared design on your work surface and carefully outline where you need the lines. If you are using different colors let each dry before doing the next.
- When you flood the sections do it quickly as is possible with your piping skill level and if you miss any areas use a toothpick or small paint brush to fill in. The icing will dry very quickly so if you try and fill in spots after it is set the surface will not be smooth.
- Let the cookies or designs dry at least 24 hours before storing them. You can create run outs for cake designs weeks in advance if you store them in a sealed container in a cool dry place.