Grandmother's Cake Icing

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Joined Dec 5, 2010
My grandmother's one and only cake icing was a plain white icing that developed a thin crispy shell as it dried.

She only ever made yellow cake, with this icing and drizzled melted chocolate over the icing.

Cakes were reserved for special occasions.

Try as I might over the years I have not been able to replicate that thin crispy shell with the soft icing underneath.

She passed away before I could get her recipes written down.  It wasn't 7 minute - it wasn't royal icing - it wasn't any version of a meringue I've tried.  Not butter cream -

She was a pretty straight forward cook in the kitchen - learned to cook in the 1920's on a farm - nothing fancy - no pricey ingredients.

Does any one have a similar icing recipe?
 
3,599
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Joined Aug 13, 2006
What was her national origin?  your name has the sz of hungarian in it, are you hungarian? 

Is the icing like a thin glaze or a thick fluffly thing or was it very sweet or more buttery?  Tell us all you remember of it and maybe we can help.  I'm thinking a boiled fondant, but maybe it was thick or soemthing. 
 
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Joined Dec 5, 2010
Thanks for your reply.  Gram grew up in southern Pennsylvania - Delta PA - and her family was of Welsh and Scottish ancestry. The icing wasn't very sweet nor was it thick and fluffy - maybe a quarter of an inch thick spread over the cake.

The distinctive feature was how crispy it dried - it broke in to flakes when cut. 
 
3,599
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Joined Aug 13, 2006
Now that's a puzzle.  I have no idea.  crackly frosting.  I hope you find someone who knows. 

good luck!
 
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Joined Dec 18, 2010
All of my New England Mothers and Grandmothers made a "glazing"/"icing" that was like what you described.  Here's how:

put a pile of confectioners sugar in bowl with a blob of soft butter.  I'd estimate about 2 cups sugar and 2 TBSP butter.  Carefully whip with a mixer (although I've used a wisk).  Go slow or all of your counter and clothing will be sugar white.  Add 1 tsp vanilla extract (or a tablespoon or so of favorite liquor).  When combined, drizzle in, while still mixing with the mixer/wisk -- SLOWLY and in SMALL AMOUNTS -- milk or cream until a spreadable/pourable consistency is reached.  Smear on top of cake and as it sets the outside will develop a crust but the innards will be soft.
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
I agree with BrianShaw. That's an old type of frosting. Some of those recipes put some egg whites in to give it some extra volume. This also

created a hardened crust but soft underneath. You could let it sit out.

pan
 
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Joined Dec 5, 2010
Thank you - the simplicity of it sounds just like something she'd whip up.  I'm going to try it tomorrow.
 
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Joined Mar 13, 2011
Might it be a poured fondant? The recipe I use for this is:

2 # confectioners sugar

1/4 C light corn syrup

1 tsp vanilla (or other flavoring obviously)

1/2 + C water or simple syrup

Combine over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth and melted. I find that using simple syrup just adds too much sweet. You may want to stick with water and adjust to desired consistency.
 
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Joined Mar 15, 2011
I just did this completely on accident, similar to what someone posted above. I had 1 stick of butter softened, 2 cups confectioners sugar, then a 3rd and 4th cup.. a tsp vanilla extract and about a 1/2 c milk. It was enough to cover 2 8" rounds. fairly runny when putting it on the cake.... everyone LOVED it.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
 
All of my New England Mothers and Grandmothers made a "glazing"/"icing" that was like what you described.  Here's how:

put a pile of confectioners sugar in bowl with a blob of soft butter.  I'd estimate about 2 cups sugar and 2 TBSP butter.  Carefully whip with a mixer (although I've used a wisk).  Go slow or all of your counter and clothing will be sugar white.  Add 1 tsp vanilla extract (or a tablespoon or so of favorite liquor).  When combined, drizzle in, while still mixing with the mixer/wisk -- SLOWLY and in SMALL AMOUNTS -- milk or cream until a spreadable/pourable consistency is reached.  Smear on top of cake and as it sets the outside will develop a crust but the innards will be soft.
BrianShaw....you hit the nail on the head.

As I read the posts I was waiting for someone to mention milk.

The milk is the ingredient that makes the crust.

I make an upside-down apple pie with walnuts and icing. I heat a small amount of milk and brown sugar in a pan until dissolved, than add the confectioners sugar. Once poured and spread, the icing hardens to a crisp consistency.
 
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Joined Sep 5, 2016
Look up helen corbitts colonnade icing recipe. This is an icing recipe that I have been looking for for years. It is similar to seven minute frosting except it doesn't harden all the way through, but rather forms of crispy shell and stay smooth and soft on the inside. This is the exact icing that was on cakes at church gatherings when I was a kid. I haven't tasted it since I was a young child, because the recipe has seem to die out. I made it yesterday, and it is the exact frosting I've been looking for. That crispy frosting that flakes. [emoji]128525[/emoji]
 
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Joined Sep 5, 2016
Old timey colonnade recipe:

4 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup of water
6 tablespoons light corn syrup
six egg whites beaten stiff but not dry
1/3rd cup of confectioners' sugar.

Combine sugar, water, and corn syrup and cook till soft ball stage 238° on the candy thermometer
Pour a slow stream into stiff egg whites while slowly beating, beat thoroughly until the icing is like cream. Add a 3rd cup confectioners sugar .
Quote Helen Corbett, this is a soft on the inside crusty on the outside icing that never fails. leftovers may be refrigerated and then heated in warm water to lukewarm and used as needed. icing goes on all the cakes you have liked. Helen corbitt born 1906...
 
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Joined Sep 19, 2016
I'm so glad that I found this post - this is exactly the type of icing that I was looking for! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
 
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Joined Dec 24, 2016
My grandmother's one and only cake icing was a plain white icing that developed a thin crispy shell as it dried.

She only ever made yellow cake, with this icing and drizzled melted chocolate over the icing.

Cakes were reserved for special occasions.

Try as I might over the years I have not been able to replicate that thin crispy shell with the soft icing underneath.

She passed away before I could get her recipes written down. It wasn't 7 minute - it wasn't royal icing - it wasn't any version of a meringue I've tried. Not butter cream -

She was a pretty straight forward cook in the kitchen - learned to cook in the 1920's on a farm - nothing fancy - no pricey ingredients.

Does any one have a similar icing recipe?
I don't know if you are still looking for this icing recipe. My beloved Italian grandmother (1906-1997) always made a moist 2-layer yellow cake. She spread jam (strawberry or raspberry) between the layers. The icing was very thin, snowy white, a little glossy, and cracked off in light flakes that melted in your mouth! It was a little soft on the underside. I never got her recipe, and I found your post while trying to search for one. There's nothing else like it...until I found the below recipe. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks to be just like Granny's, and the picture looks like it. I might try to make it at Christmas, because otherwise I'm not much of a cake maker! Let me know what you think. Here it is:
https://bakethiscake.com/2011/12/31/lady-baltimore-boiled-icing/

The "Lady Baltimore Cake" in the recipe sounds entirely decadent. But see all the descriptions/pictures of the icing!
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Too lazy to read thru all of the posts but has anyone tried a plain poured fondant?
Not the kind you roll...this one is only a couple ingredients no fats and dries exactly like is described (sometimes I will drop a cube of almond bark in if the day is humid).
I use mainly for my grownup animal "crackers" ... flavored with a splash of amaretto... dip and place on a rack to dry for an afternoon.
Addictive lol.

mimi
 
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Joined Dec 23, 2018
I don't know if you are still looking for this icing recipe. My beloved Italian grandmother (1906-1997) always made a moist 2-layer yellow cake. She spread jam (strawberry or raspberry) between the layers. The icing was very thin, snowy white, a little glossy, and cracked off in light flakes that melted in your mouth! It was a little soft on the underside. I never got her recipe, and I found your post while trying to search for one. There's nothing else like it...until I found the below recipe. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks to be just like Granny's, and the picture looks like it. I might try to make it at Christmas, because otherwise I'm not much of a cake maker! Let me know what you think. Here it is:
https://bakethiscake.com/2011/12/31/lady-baltimore-boiled-icing/

The "Lady Baltimore Cake" in the recipe sounds entirely decadent. But see all the descriptions/pictures of the icing!
 
5
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Joined Dec 23, 2018
That’s my vintage frosting recipe and I believe the frosting we used for the Lady Baltimore cake is exactly what you’ve described in your search for your grandmother’s icing. It is pure white and crusts over when it “dries”. It is light and lovely. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for full directions.
 
5
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Joined Dec 23, 2018
That’s my vintage frosting recipe and I believe the frosting we used for the Lady Baltimore cake is exactly what you’ve described in your search for your grandmother’s icing. It is pure white and crusts over when it “dries”. It is light and lovely. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for full directions.
This is what the frosting looks like before it dries with a soft crust...
 
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