While I think of it – this is the recipe I am going to try next for sugar paste for more authentic period sugar craft subtleties. This one is from The good Hus-wiues Iewell (I love this bit – Printed by E. Allde for Edward White, dwelling at the little North doore of Paules Church at the signe of the Gun, 1597.) It suggests making cups and plates from it, which could be a very lovely project with flowers and fruits for another time, but next up I have an idea to make a castle tower that I think might appeal to the boys.
To make a paste of Suger, whereof a man may make al manner of fruites, and other fine thinges with their forme, as Plates, Dishes, Cuppes, and such like thinges wherewith you may furnish a Table.
Take Gumme and dragant as much as you wil, and steep it in Rosewater til it be mollified, and for foure ounces of suger take of it the bigness of a beane, the iuyce of Lemons, a walnut shel ful, and a little of the white of an eg. But you must first take the gumme, and beat it so much with a pestell in a brasen morter, till it be come like water, then put to it the iuyce with the white of an egge, incorporating al these wel together, this don take foure ounces of fine white suger wel beaten to powder, and cast it into ye morter by a litle and little, vntil they be turned into ye form of paste, thē take it out of the said morter, and bray it vpon the powder of suger, as it were meale or flower, vntill it be like soft paste, to the end you may turn it, and fashion it which way you wil.
When you haue brought your paste to this fourme spread it abroad vpō great or smal leaves as you shall thinke it good, and so shal you form or make what things you wil, as is aforesaid, with such fine knackes as may serve a Table taking heede there stand no hotte thing nigh it. At the ende of the Banket they may eat all, and breake the Platters Dishes, Glasses Cuppes, and all other things, for this paste is very delicate and sauerous. If you will make a Tarte of Almondes stamped with suger and Rosewater of like sorte that Marchpaines be made of, this shal you laye between two pastes of such vessels or fruits or some other things as you thinke good.
I have lots of ideas buzzing around my head now. “Gumme and dragant” mentioned here is gum tragacanth. My understanding of the recipe is to take a bean sized lump of gum tragacanth soaked in rose water beaten in a pestle and morter then mixed with a walnut shell full of lemon juice for every 4 ounces (I’m saying about 115 grams) of powdered sugar you want to use. Egg white is mentioned too, but for modern health and safety reasons I will forgo that, I think. the powdered sugar is added slowly til the desired texture is reached.