The foundation of all kinds of confectionery is sugar, clarified, and boiled to different degrees by means of a special stove.


The confectioners' stove is generally built like a cupboard in a recess in the wall of the bakehouse. The sides are of brick, or of wood lined with tin or sheet-iron, to preserve the heat, with strips of wood fastened about 4 in. apart, to support trays or shelves for drying the various goods; also a few movable iron network shelves for holding candy pots, arranged so that they can be tilted bodily. The door must shut close, and a smaller door or ventilator should be made in it near the top. The cupboard is heated by a stove of any desired pattern, or even by a pot of hot embers or charcoal.


For every 6 lb. of raw sugar required, take 1 qt. of water, the white of an egg, and about 1/2 teacupful of bullocks' blood. Less than 1 pint will suffice for 1 cwt.; but if a very fine, transparent, and colourless syrup is required, use finely powdered ivory-black instead of the blood. Put the white of egg in the water and whisk to a froth, then add the black and sugar, place the pan containing the ingredients on the stove-fire, and stir them well with a spatula, until the sugar is dissolved and nearly boiling. When ebullition commences, throw in a little cold water; this causes the coarser parts to separate more freely, and the impurities attach themselves to the clarifying matter used; continue for 5 minutes, using about 1 pint of water to every 6 lb. of sugar, until the dross is discharged, and there remains a fine clear syrup. Place the latter beside the stove, and carefully remove with a skimmer the scum which forms on the top: it may also be taken off as it rises, but it is best to let it remain a short time after it is clarified.

When charcoal (black) is used, it must be passed through a filtering-bag made of thick flannel, in the shape of a cone, having a hoop fastened round the top to keep it extended, and to which strings are sewn that it may be tied or suspended in any convenient manner: what runs out at first will be quite black; return this again into the bag, and continue doing so until it runs fine and clear. A little lime or any other alkali, added to the sugar with the water, will neutralize the acid which raw sugars contain, and they will be found to stand better after they have been manufactured, by not taking the damp so soon.

Loaf-sugar is usually clarified by white of egg mixed with water, without other assistance. When it is necessary to have a very fine sparkling grain, break the lump into small pieces and put in a preserving-pan, with sufficient water to dissolve it, in which has been mixed the white of an egg and powdered charcoal, as for raw sugar, following instructions already given. After the sugar has been drained from the bag, pass some water through to take off any which may be left in the charcoal, and use for dissolving more sugar. The scum is reserved, when charcoal (black) is not used, to mix with articles of inferior quality.

Boiling Degrees

There are 7 essential degrees in boiling sugar: some authors give 13, but 9 may be admitted. They are: - (1) small thread, (2) large thread, (3) little pearl, (4) large pearl, (5) the blow, (6) the feather, (7) ball, (8) crack, (9) caramel.


This term embraces the first 4 degrees, which are ascertained as follows. Place the clarified syrup on the fire, let it boil a little, dip the top of your finger in the boiling syrup, and on taking it out apply it to the top of your thumb; on separating them, a small string will be drawn out a little distance, about as fine as a hair, which will break and resolve itself into a drop on the thumb and finger (" small thread "). Continue the boiling a little longer, repeat the same operation as before, and a larger string will be drawn "large thread "). Separate the finger from the thumb as before, and a large string may be drawn, which will extend to nearly the distance the fingers may be opened (" little pearl"). The finger may now be separated from the thumb to the greatest extent before the thread will break (" large pearl").


This includes the degrees of "blow " and "feather."

The principles of the operation are these. First, as in the case of syrup, when the water has absorbed as much sugar as it is capable of containing in a cold state, by boiling, a portion of the water is evaporated, and sugar remains in excess, which, when exposed to a less degree of heat, separates itself, and forms crystals on any surface presented to it. But if it is exposed too suddenly to cold, or disturbed in its action by being shaken, or if the boiling has been continued too long, the crystals will run hastily together, forming a mass or lump. To obtain crystals in perfection, the boiling must be gradual, and continued only till a few drops let fall on a cold surface show a crystalline appearance, or, after being removed from the fire, a thin skin forms on the surface. The syrup is then taken from the fire and placed in a less hot but not cold place, and covered or put into a stove or closet to prevent the access of cold air. A few drops of spirits of wine, added when the sugar has attained the proper degree, will conduce to more perfect crystalline form.

It must be used with caution, as too much will cause the syrup to grain.

To ascertain the degree of the blow, continue the boiling, dip a skimmer in the sugar and shake over the pan, then blow through the holes, and small bubbles or air bladders are seen on the other side. For the " feather," dip the skimmer again into the sugar, and blow through the holes as before, and the bubbles will appear larger and stronger. Or, on giving the skimmer a sudden jerk, so as to throw the sugar from you, when it has acquired the degree, it will hang from the skimmer in fine long strings.