This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Four or five kinds of gum are used In confectionery and syrups.
The Frenchman who asks for absinthe in your establishment probably asks for gcmme. This means that he wants about half his lotion to consist of strop de gomme. Now sirop de gomme, or gum-arabic syrup, is not generally procurable and I want to tell you how to make it for yourself.
Wash 500 grammes (1 lb. 13-5 oz.) of white gum-arabic. Dissolve it in a covered jar in a pint of cold water, stirring it frequently; then strain it through a linen strainer. Dissolve 2 kilos of sugar (4 lb. 6 1/2 oz) in 2 litres of lukewarm water (3 1/2 pints); place the bowl containing the liquefied sugar on the fire, skim carefully, and let it cook for about three minutes; then add the liquid gum, and let the mixture boil until about the consistency of strong liquid gum. Cool and bottle.
Since the war in the Soudan gum arabic has been very scarce; and the Germans in America are turning their attention to provide a substitute. The latest is the following: Twenty parts of powdered sugar are boiled with seven parts of fresh milk, and this is then mixed with fifty parts of a 36 per cent, solution of silicate of sodium, the mixture being then cooled at 122 Fahr., and poured into tin boxes, where granular masses will gradully separate out, which look very much like pieces of gum arabic. This artificial gum copiously and instantly reduces Fehling's solution, so that if mixed with powdered gum arabic as an adulterant its presence could be easily detected.
Made of 50 lbs. sugar, 25 lbs. glucose, 9 lbs. starch, 1 oz. each cream tartar and tartaric acid. Starch mixed with water till like cream; sugar made into syrup of 33 degrees, and when boiling, starch stirred into it; glucose then added; boiled 3 1/2 hours; acid added, and flavor. Run into starch moulds, dried in a hot closet 2 days, tossed in granulated sugar. (See Fig Paste).
Another name for tragacanth.
For cake-ornaments; made by putting 4 oz. white gum tragacanth in a bowl with 1 pt warm water to soak for 24 hours, or until it is all dissolved; then forced through a towel by twisting. The gum is then rubbed with the hand on a marble slab for 10 minutes; fine powdered sugar added by degrees while the rubbing with the hand is continued until 3 lbs. sugar has been worked in and the paste is white and tough; to be kept in a jar till needed for use. If for making flowers, about 2 lbs. fine starch and 1/4 lb sugar are worked into 1 1/2 lb. of the stock mixture in the jar. If for pressing into moulds for leaf ornaments, 2 lbs. sugar and 1 lb. starch are worked into 2 lbs. of the jar stock; one drop of blue coloring to be mixed in.
Are made with the fingers and a set of small bone tools about the size of a piece of pencil adapted to form cups and hollows in the paste and to roll it to leaf-like thinness in the palm of the hand; a pair of scissors is used to cut the edges, and a toothpick stuck in a board to stick the flowers on to dry. Stamens are procured from the artificial millinery flower makers, and a little painting is done on the leaves. Roses are made by a leaf at a time rolled and shaped in starch in the palm of the hand and 20 or 30 of them fastened on a core or bud already dry on its stick.
These and various patterns and designs are made by piping the design in cake-icing on oiled glass, bordering it with putty and making a mould from it by pouring on melted brimstone; this takes in the icing pattern, which can be dissolved out in water. Into this the gum paste is afterwards pressed, thus getting the icing pattern from the brimstone mould reproduced in gum paste. A piece of lace bobinet is stuck upon the back of the pattern before it is lifted.