A cake may be merely dusted over the top with powdered sugar and the layers put together with a cream filling. The sugar will stick to the cake better if the white of an egg or fruit jelly has been brushed over the top first. Fruit or nuts, and sugar may be sprinkled over the top of a cake before it is baked.

Frostings which are made of sugar and liquid and which completely cover the surface of a cake, may be either cooked or uncooked. Various kinds of sugar may be used, and nuts or fruit if desired. Uncooked frostings should be made of confectioner's sugar. The sugar should always be sifted. The rules for sugar cookery (page 576) should be followed in making cooked frosting.

For cutting a frosted cake, a knife dipped in boiling water should be used in order to prevent breaking the frosting.

In frosting a layer cake, it has been found helpful to pin a strip of glazed paper about an inch higher than the cake around it. This will serve as a retainer when the frosting is poured on the cake. After the frosting has set, the strip of paper should be removed, using a thin-bladed knife that has been wet in hot water.

Boiled Frostings

In making boiled frosting, just as in making cake, it is possible to vary the amounts of ingredients used in proportion to the time of cooking. There are three ingredients essential to the making of any so-called boiled frosting, water, sugar, and white of egg. Cream of tartar may be used with good effect, for it gives the frosting a creamy consistency, but if none is at hand the same effect may be produced by substituting vinegar or by increasing the amount of water and thus prolonging the time of cooking. When the amount of white of egg used in a recipe is increased, the temperature to which the sugar solution is cooked should be increased.

Recipe

1 cup sugar 1/16 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup water White of 1 egg

This is the old standard recipe and it makes a rather dense, sweet frosting. The addition of another egg-white will make a more fluffy frosting. Since eggs vary in size, 1/6 cup of white of egg may be used to give a definite result. This recipe will make sufficient frosting for the top of a cake about nine inches in diameter.

Method I

Dissolve the sugar and cream of tartar in the water over the heat, stirring the mixture only until the sugar is dissolved. If one egg is to be used, let the sugar mixture boil until it reaches the soft-ball stage (238° F.), or until it forms threads when some of it is dropped from the tines of a fork. If two eggs are to be used, boil the sugar mixture until it reaches a higher temperature, about 244° F., the hard-ball stage. Do not move the dish or stir the sirup during the remainder of the period of cooking. Cover the pan during the first few minutes that the sugar solution is boiling, so that steam may collect on the sides of the pan. This will help to prevent the formation of large crystals that would cause the sirup to crystallize in coarse grains and that would spoil the texture of the frosting. After removing the cover of the pan, insert the candy thermometer and wash from the sides of the pan any crystals that may form, using a brush or cloth that has been wet with cold water. When the sirup is cooked, pour it slowly on the beaten white of the egg, using a Dover egg-beater and beating continually while pouring. Continue beating until the frosting is cooled and is stiff enough to spread on the cake and remain in place. If the mixture does not thicken properly, it may be cooked again by Method II, twice-cooked frosting.

* Mills, Katherine H. Making Cake. Part II. Cornell Reading-Course for the Farm Home, Bull. 75.)

Method II

Dissolve the sugar in the water and boil the mixture without stirring until it reaches the hard-ball stage (246° F.), or until the sirup when dropped from a spoon will form a long thread with short threads branching from the main one. Remove the sirup carefully from the fire, and allow it to cool while the whites of the eggs are being beaten until they are stiff and dry. They should be beaten in the upper part of the double boiler, as this will save utensils, materials, and time. Pour the sirup slowly over the beaten whites of the eggs, beating the mixture as long as possible with a Dover egg-beater and after that with a spoon, until the mixture is light and stiff. Set the dish containing the frosting over hot water, and allow the mixture to cook. Beat it constantly until it is light and fluffy, rises slightly in the pan, and as it is stirred begins to give a slight scraping sound against the sides of the dish. This scraping sound may be learned only through experience, but it is easily detected. Remove the dish of frosting at once from the hot water. If the frosting is cooked too long over the hot water it will be granular. The frosting will probably be stiff enough to spread at once; if it is not, stir it until it has reached the proper consistency. This frosting may be piled on a cake to any desired thickness, or it may be used in a tube to make ornamental frosting. When it is properly made this frosting will be very light, fine grained, soft and springy. After it has been spread on a cake, it will form a thin crust on top and will keep moist and soft underneath for several days. This method makes a frosting known as twice-cooked.

Variations

1. Allow a thin layer of melted sweet chocolate to flow over the top of the frosting after it has been spread on the cake and a thin crust has formed on the top.

2. Brown or maple sugar may be substituted for white sugar. The sirup must be boiled to a higher temperature (240° F.) before the mixture will reach the soft-ball stage.

3. Use 1/4 cup of dark-colored strained honey and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar, or use 1/2 cup light-colored strained honey and 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Add 3 tablespoons of water, and boil the mixture until it reaches the soft-ball stage (240° F.), or until it begins to form threads when some of it is dropped from the tines of a fork. Add the sirup to the white of egg in the manner described in Method I. This frosting stiffens but does not grain, and should be spread on the cake immediately before using.

4. Freshly grated cocoanut may be liberally sprinkled on the top of a cake immediately after the frosting has been spread on it.

5. Chocolate frosting may be made by Recipe I for boiled frosting by adding 2 squares (2 ounces) of chocolate to the sugar and water mixture before it has been cooked. The directions given under Method I may be followed. Another method is to add melted chocolate to the white frosting after it has been beaten and is stiff enough to spread. The amount of chocolate may be varied to suit the individual taste.

6. One-half cup of chopped nuts, figs, raisins, dates, or any combination of nuts and these fruits, may be added to the frosting just before spreading it on the cake.