Friday, April 10, 2015

Who knew you could fail at icing?

After a cupcake recipe turned out to be so good, we at A Book of Cookrye decided to see how well one of the icing recipes from the same book would turn out. After all, no one likes naked cupcakes.
Choice Receipts Arranged for the Gas Stove, Miss Andrews (United Gas Improvement Co), 1893

Make cajeta and put it on top of cakes? Sounds good to me!
The island of butter.

By the way, here's an interesting experiment I discovered while attempting to carry everything downstairs in one trip. If you hold the side of a cup to a spoon handle like so and scratch the paddle end of the spoon, you'll hear the amplified sound coming out of the cup.

Now, where were we? Oh yes, stir this for thirteen minutes. Cooking times that are not divisible by five are really unusual in recipes, so presumably the recipe writer(s) arrived at thirteen minutes after extensive testing which means we're guaranteed success!

Rather oddly for this book, no burner setting was given. It just says to boil it. Granted, many people were still used to wood-fired stoves at the time, but all the recipes in this book that involve the oven proudly list the temperatures. Paragraphs throughout the book say things like "Look! No guesswork! No poking a fire! Just set the temperature dial and you're done!". Therefore, I find it odd they don't gush over the then-new idea of being able to adjust the stovetop burners with a twist of a knob. You'd think a gas company trying to get people to use gas stoves would have given very explicit instructions of what to set the burners to at each step of every recipe just to show how easily that works.
At any rate, the icing turned a pretty shade of brown around the 12 minute mark.

So, once it's cooked, you're supposed to beat it with a "surprise egg beater" until it cools.
Nothing wrong with making it cool faster.

 Have you ever heard of a surprise egg beater? I hadn't either. It turns out that there were many kinds of egg beaters before someone strapped a motor to one and gave us the electric mixer.

At any rate, this is the surprise we got when beating the icing. Upon cooling while getting subjected to a thorough beating, it turned to gravel.
It's like the disappointing offspring of cake frosting and Dippin' Dots.

And attempting to add water and force it to act like icing gave us this.

Seriously? Who puts an icing recipe into a promotional cookbook that fails this hard? The only good thing about it is that it hardened into shards before I tried to put it on a cake. No one would have wanted the armor-plated results of pouring it over the cupcakes right out of the pot.


  1. I had an apartment once with a truly antique gas stove. It was on tall curly legs, and I think it may reflect the era of this cookbook. There were no marks on any of the gas thingies. You could adjust them up or down, but there was no indication of the range between high and low. This was true for the oven as well. I had to buy an oven thermometer. It was a learning experience trying to cook on it, and I would no longer buy into the exactly 13 minute instruction.

    1. I am curious- when was this and how well did the stove work once you learned how to use it?
      And yeah, the 13 minute instruction is pretty useless when you don't know how hot a flame you're supposed to cook it over.

  2. It must have been about 1974. I was renting an apartment in an old brick house. It worked ok but I didn't try a lot of tricky stuff.