Confectionary and Sugar Work Course with Ivan Day

Working in his garden, Ivan Day demonstrates  the proper consistency needed to spin a silver web of sugar.

Working in his garden, Ivan Day demonstrates the proper consistency needed to spin a silver web of sugar.

I traveled to England during the month of October to take a Confectionary and Sugar course taught by noted historic foodways authority Ivan Day.

Mr. Day is a published author of several books on Historic Foodways and he’s lectured and led seminars throughout Europe and the United States. He’s also seen regularly on television and was our key note speaker at the first Foodways symposium in November 2010.

During the intensive weekend course, we learned so much, including:

  • How to make a variety of edible glues and sizing
  • How to guild using beaten gold sheets
  • Making and molding gingerbread and marzipan
  • Making wafers using his 19th-century cast iron stove
  • Learning to use a cot to make satin comfits
  • Making little candies, such as Kissing Comfits, from flavored sugar plate
  • Making silver web (fine strings of sugar) which we used to wrap a molded ice cream
  • Building a small pedestal cake stand (to hold sweetmeats) completely out of sugar
  • Making period correct food colorings

But the best part of the weekend was learning how to make and use sugar plate.

Kimberly molds gingerbread, made using both an 18th-century recipe and an original mold.

Kimberly molds gingerbread, made using both an 18th-century recipe and an original mold.

Sugar plate is a mixture of powdered (confectionary) sugar, gum tragacanth and water. The gum comes from the sap of a tree that grows in the Middle East.

This paste was then pressed into wooden molds and removed using very sharp knives.

They were allowed to dry slightly and then, using the glue we made, attached them to a very pink, but very lovely, Twelfth Night cakes.

The finished product: Beautiful Twelfth Night Cakes.

The finished product: Beautiful Twelfth Night Cakes.

Mr. Day explained that by the 1830s, German bakers had invented the modern piped Royal icing — that is still used today — to decorate fancy cakes, making the use of these ornate wooden molds obsolete.

During the class we handled and used a wide variety of Mr. Day’s original 17th- and 18th-century molds. The results were two lovely  Twelfth Night Cakes, worthy of a Royal Governor’s table.

Kimberly Costa, Apprentice

 


One Response to “Confectionary and Sugar Work Course with Ivan Day”

  1. January 6th, 2015

    I am beside myself with excitement after finding this site! I absolutely love it; now I HAVE to go to Colonial Williamsburg and check out the cooking, the embroidery and sewing, and interior decorating!

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