The Art of Confectionery
Author: George Cox
Publisher: F. J. Parsons, Ltd
Size: 8.2 x 8.1 x 0.6 inches (20.8 x 20.5 x 1.5 cm)
Weight: 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg)
Photos, total: 145 (65 directly related to cake decorating)
Color photos: 0
Instructions given for cakes depicted: Short instructions are given for many of the cakes.
Price range: Prices from $300-400 are not uncommon.
About the book:
The Art of Confectionery is a collection of articles, originally published in “National Association Review”, the magazine of the (British) National Association of Master Bakers.
The book is divided into chapters, such as “wedding cakes” or “Meringue goods” with many recipes. It is written for the professional baker, and as such, does not explain anything royal icing related in detail. It is not a book exclusively about royal icing, and there is no basic information on techniques or piping tubes like you see in, say, Schulbe’s first book.
The pictures range from “pretty clear” to “I need glasses”, but most (certainly not all) have been touched up nicely. Although we must forgive them, for they had not the excellent photo gear of today. In 1901, photography was still in its infancy.
Even though the royal icing part only covers roughly half the book, there is some inspiration to be had. I especially like the scrollwork.
The style is very heavy and not always particularly elegant.
Since the book is very difficult to find, the price is stupidly high. It is not worth the $300, that most sellers seem to be asking. I bought it anyway, so who am I to tell you not to? Hopefully this review can help you decide whether or not you want to shell out the cash.
Section 1: Wedding Cakes.
28 pages. Four recipes for traditional British fruit cakes, which is four more than most people will ever need. But the recipes are exhibition price winners, so should you want to bake fruit cakes, this is probably a good place to start. There are also recipes for almond paste and royal icing, although the royal icing recipe uses a premade powder (albumen powder, most likely), and as such is not easy to recreate. But if you’re buying books of this caliber, you probably already know how to make royal icing.
There is some useful talk about wedding cake sizes, decoration and some short instructions for the one-tier wedding cakes pictured. The larger wedding cakes are described as display cakes (or as being “for very special occasions”) and have several pages of instructions each, as well as a few diagrams and plenty of close-ups of different techniques. Some pretty impressive scrollwork is also included.
A short mention of and a recipe for gum-paste as well.
Section 2: Birthday Cakes, Christmas Cakes, Decorated Cakes.
10 pages. Recipes (fruit cakes) and some pictures with short instructions for one-tiered celebration cakes.
Section 3: Fancy Gateaux and Decorated Cakes.
10 pages. Gateaux are sponge cakes sandwiched with jam or buttercream and decorated with buttercream, nuts and poured fondant. Recipes for several different kinds of sponge are given, and one for buttercream as well. Short instructions for decorating, some simple, some very fancy.
Section 4: Cream Goods.
3 pages. Cream goods are individual sized pastries with cream filling. In this case, whipped cream or boiled custard. There are recipes for several different kinds, as well as for petit fours and a detailed recipe for poured fondant.
Section V: Afternoon Tea Fancies.
5 1/2 pages. Recipes for a selection of baked goods for Afternoon Tea, such as shortbread (decorated with royal icing) and biscuits (cookies).
Section VI: Fancy and Other Biscuits.
6 1/2 pages. More recipes for biscuits.
Section VII: Meringue Goods.
3 pages. Recipes for meringue pastries, including dried meringues and suggestions for some light decoration.
Section VIII: Cakes, Slabs, Madeiras, Ect., Ect.
3 1/2 pages. Not just Ect., but Ect., Ect., this chapter contains a bunch of recipes for regular cakes, such as pound cakes, madeira cakes and slab cakes.
Section IX: Morning Goods.
5 1/2 pages. Recipes for sponge cake sandwiches, swiss rolls and yeasted doughs (buns, doughnuts and the like).
Section X: Pastries.
2 pages. Recipes for different kinds of tarts and banbury cakes.
Section XI: Creams, Jellies and Ices.
7 pages. Recipes for fancy cold desserts, such as jellies and charlotte russe. Lots of recipes for ice cream, as well as ideas for presentation.
Section XII: Receptions and Balls.
8 pages. Menus and recipes for savoury goods, such as potted meat, aspics, and two tongues set up as a lyre, which apparently was a thing back then, being featured in many books from that era. Some of the dishes are decorated with whipped butter used just like royal icing.
Section XIII: General.
1 page. Boiling sugar to various different stages, making mince meat and christmas puddings.
Section XIV: Marzipan.
2 1/2 pages. Instructions for making marzipan fruits and roses, as well as a few recipes for baked goods using marzipan, as well as a few using nougat.