[Sca-cooks] Sugar

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Fri Jul 30 14:00:12 PDT 2010

I was leaving this am when these posts appeared, so I gave this some  
on the ride into town.

We have the one early specific recipe which appears in Curye on  
Inglysch. It's the GK 11 recipe
which is from Harley 2378 "To clarifie sugar." This is clearly a step  
one recipe because you take the sugar, the water and the egg whites  
and follow all the instructions so that when you are done you may end  
up with clarified sugar. The recipe ends: "And wyth (th)at suger  
(th)ou may make all maner confectyons."

The recipes that follow in that manuscript are then for a number of  

Le Ouverture de Cuisine includes a recipe for "To prepare sugar for  
casting images & fruits."

To prepare sugar for casting images & fruits. Mix melted sugar with  
rose water as much as you would like to have, & let it boil a long  
time until it becomes like syrup, when boiling add two well beaten egg  
whites, at the end the sugar will be very white, then pass the melted  
sugar through a fine sieve to separate out the egg white, then put the  
sugar back on the fire, & let it boil a long time, stirring the sugar  
with a spatula, casting it on top, if you see that it falls like snow  
then it is cooked enough, then take it from the fire, it must always  
be mixed with a spatula that it will become like little grains &  
little bubbles, then cast it in the form of fruit or images as wanted.  

In this case the sugar starts out being melted.
Countess Alys asked what clarification. I suppose the question is also  
in how one  interprets phrases associated with sugar in recipes. Many  
don't specify anything other than just sugar, but others are quite  

"for every pound of Cheries strew upon them a pound of good white  
sugar in pouder" in To make cherries in confection. A Book of Cookrye

The prune recipe in the same book merely says "save that for every  
pound of Prunes take xii. ounces of sugar..."

Delights for Ladies calls for "Dissolve refined or double refined  
sugar, or sugar-candy itself in a little Rose water" when one candies  
rosemary flowers and for marigolds it says "double refined Sugar upon  
them, and turne them, and let them boile a little longer, taking the  
dish from the fire: then strew more powdered Sugar on the contrary  
side of the flowers." Other times in the same volume we are told to   
"Take one pound of fine sugar..." Le Ouverture calls for "To make  
sugar paste. Take fine sugar well sifted with a fine sieve..."

Lastly, from John Partridge's Treasurie of Commodious Conceits (which  
I just supplied to medievalcookery.com)

"To Make MANVS CHRISTI. Chapter xxxv. TAke halfe a pownde of white  
Suger" says John Partridge. He also instructs "To keepe Damsins in  
syrop. TAke Damsins & picke them wt a knife, or a pi the take  
clarified Suger as much as you shall thinke wil serue & then you must  
boyle it til it be as thick as birdlime: Then boyle your Damsins in ye  
clarified sugre, til they be soft..." and for barberries "To keepe  
Barberyes. cap.lvi. TAke claryfied Suger, & boyle it tyll it be  

I think we can say it varies, but it would be an interesting study to  
run through all the English or French or German recipes and see what  
is called for when sugar is specified.

The important thing to remember Katherine or anyone else that wants to  
try this process at home would be to work with 100 per cent cane  
sugar. For all those reasons why, we have archives that go into it  
(hundreds of post on this question in the past) and there's this great  
award winning article by Rose Levy Beranbaum on sugar too.
Rose's Sugar Bible
Rose Levy Beranbaum
Published originally in; Food Arts Magazine, April 2000

Laura Mason's book Sugar-Plums and Sherbet has an excellent section on  
sugar for those wanting to read something.

Hope this helps


> Katherine wrote:
>> ... I have a sugary question I have been pondering.  I've now read  
>> a few instructions in apothocary type handbooks that tell you how  
>> to clean sugar with egg whites.  ....snipped Has anyone here tried  
>> to do that with a sugar cone?  I would have to go back and read it,  
>> but is the sugar allowed to re-crystallize?  Is the sugar whiter?
On Jul 30, 2010, at 8:47 AM, Elise Fleming wrote:
> As to re-crystallizing...Anyone got the facts?  My guess is that if  
> the sugar was supposed to be in a liquid form for the recipe (such  
> as making a fruit paste or candying seeds), there would be no need  
> to let it re-crystallize.  Sugar to be sprinkled on as decoration  
> wouldn't need clarification, nor would sugar added to provide  
> sweetness (to a sauce, for instance).
> Off the top of my head, I don't recall any recipes where sugar, to  
> be used in granules in a prepared dish, is clarified.  I've usually  
> seen clarification called for when a syrup or a liquid is wanted.   
> The only one I can think of that might call for clarification (where  
> the result is a sugar crystal) would be rock candy, and that went  
> through a liquid/syrup form before being re-crystallized.

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