Some people call it icing, others frosting. Whichever name you want to use, it’s still the same sugary sweet top layer of cakes and pastries that make us want to eat them all day, have diabetes and die with a smile.
Marzipan in the Pan
Before you dash to the phone and have the freshest batch of cupcakes delivered to your door, have you ever wondered how icing/frosting started? Well, you’re going to read it anyway. It all began in 1494 people started squishing almond paste with sugar. The concoction turned into a gooey mess that stuck everywhere, it was called marzipan (march pane).Once people figured out it could be rolled in sheets and frozen, it was quite tasty.
Keep it Together Frosting
By that time, though, marzipan was used primarily as a kind of specialised topping. It wasn’t essential in any way and most people didn’t bother because of the added work. It was only around 200 years later that icing became a staple in cake making when a French chef baked the first multi-layered cake in the 16th century.
Before then, practical multi-layered cakes were almost impossible to make as the layers keep sliding off when cut. The chef solved this problem by adding icing on top of the cakes after it cooled. The hardened layer of icing held the cake layers in place while getting cut, as well as providing a tasty aesthetic covering to the dessert.
White is the Old Black
Rebecca Price first recorded the first cake recipe that included icing in 1655, when she instructed her cook to ‘frost the cake so that it would ice’. This might be where those two terms first came about, but no one can confirm it.
An added historical tidbit, did you know that Queen Victoria started the tradition of white bride dresses? Of course, you did, but did you know why she picked white? The reason wasn’t for purity’s sake – as many other sites will tell you, but for economics. White was the cheapest colour available at the tailors, and it also allowed her to reuse the lace of her own grandmothers dresses. True to form, she also started the white multi-layered wedding cake. Again, the reason for the white colour was economics, white allowed her to judge the amount, quality and expense of the sugar used.
Cupcakes and Learning
The first cupcake icing and delivery first came in the 1950s, and buttercream frosting was the ultimate favourite. Did that make you hungry yet? Of course, you were hungry at the start of this, so you’re probably famished. Go get your cupcakes then, at least you’ll have learned something new in addition to eating something sweet.