Advanced Piping and Modelling
Author: Ernest Schulbe
Publisher: Kingsway Book Co.
Year: 1937 (3rd edition)
Size: 7.3 x 9.8 x 1 inches (18.5 x 25 x 2.5 cm)
Weight: 2.2 lbs (1 kg)
Photos, total: 100
Color photos: 0
Instructions given for cakes depicted: Yes
Price range: This book can be difficult to find. Expect to pay around $250.
About the book:
As the title says, this book is on advanced piping. There is very little basic information. For this, he refers to his previous title, “Cake Decoration”.
254 pages long, 159 of them are dedicated to royal icing. The rest is modelling in marzipan and gumpaste, as well as a tiny chapter on decorating meat and cutting vegetables. There are no recipes for cakes or pastries.
Pictures are plentiful in this book, and all the pictures come with instructions. They are often superficial and a sometimes all you get is a “the bottom border is decorated in a manner that should be clear from the picture”. Which it often is, because most of the pictures are clear and somewhat easy to follow. Not all of them though. Knowledge of and experience with overpiping and netting/cushion work is needed. Netting features heavily in many of the book’s designs. If you have Schulbe’s previous book, a lot of the techniques are explained there.
One tiny issue is the use of net nails. Almost all the cakes make use of lace piped on a bunch of oddly shaped nails, and when dry, removed from said nails and placed on the cake. Most of these nails are no longer made. They are somewhat essential if you want to copy Schulbe’s designs 100%. In some instances you can improvise, in others you have to substitute another design. To be frank, most of them are really ugly, and the cakes would be better off without. But still, it would be fun to try them out.
Net nails aside, the designs are absolutely stunning, especially the intertwined overpiping, the side work, the lace work and the use of netting/cushion work.
General remarks about piping
A short introduction to the icing tubes used in the book.
Hollow Net Piping
The net nails are introduced with pictures. This should make it easier to find substitutions. I have been able to find the ones pictured above, the two to the right being flower nails. There is also some talk about tools, such as a revolving cake stand.
General tips on piping lace.
Hollow Stem Piping
A type of layered piping that is hollow inside. Pretty clear instructions on how to achieve this. We understand from the text that this technique is a huge deal. Maybe he invented it.
Piping In Chocolate
Instructions for piping with chocolate. No pictures.
One Tier Wedding Cakes
There are 16 cake designs in this chapter, all come with instructions. The instructions themselves are divided into top border, bottom border and centre border, making it easy to find the required information. Everything is kept rather short and superficial. The aboved pictured cake, for example, has rather short instructions for the bottom border: “Divide sizes to correspond with the top border and fill in with hollow stem and other scrollings intermixed as shown”. On the other hand, the top border has more thorough instructions, but still, theres is no holding of hands, and techniques are not explained in depth. You will be instructed to pipe slanting lines, or C scrolls, or to “overpipe a continuous S scroll”.
The cakes usually have slanting bottoms, as do many of the larger cakes from back then, and the instructions for this is hidden in the text for Cake No. 12.
All but 3 of the cakes uses net nails.
Two-tier Wedding Cakes
10 cake designs, complete with instructions. Same as the chapter on One Tier Wedding Cakes. A lot of these instructions are simply referring back to that chapter, but some of them are new techniques. Two uses no net nails at all.
Three-tier Wedding Cakes
9 cakes, all with instructions. 3 of the cakes are made without net nails. The last pages of the chapter is dedicated to a few pictures of cakes made by a friend of the author, who taught himself piping from Schulbe’s books. Since he refers to this very book, this section is likely not included in at least the 1st edition. Since the pen pal guy used the book, and all.
Birthday and Christmas Cakes
This chapter starts out with some general advice on using poured fondant to cover cakes – the wedding cakes were covered in royal icing – and on tinting the fondant. There is also a section on decorating these cakes with candied and preserved fruit. For example, using pears and angelica, cut and arranged to resemble a rose. There are also 13 cakes, all decorated with royal icings. None of them makes use of the net nails.
Fondant iced cake tops
Instructions for 6 cakes are given in this chapter, all of them covered in poured fondant and decorated with royal icing, featuring a chocolate medallion. Which brings us to the next chapter:
A very short chapter on making chocolate medallions, that is, plates of chocolate glazed with a confectioners varnish (not shellac, he writes, for you are a confectioner and not a French polisher, in case you forgot). These plates are then decorated with royal icing. No pictures.
General instructions for piping landscape scenes on flat surfaces. Very short, but nice for inspiration.
Well illustrated, this chapter covers the basic royal icing flowers.
This is the last chapter on royal icing. Now for the modelling part:
Modelling in Gumpaste and Marzipan
This chapter covers modelling in general. There are pictures of modelling tools, and they are the exact same tools we use today. Crimpers are also mentioned, although they are called marzipan pinchers. There’s also a recipe for gumpaste that haves you soaking pieces of gum tragacanth for 24 hours before pounding them in a white marble mortar. In other words, the recipe is a bit dated, but fun to read. Makes you appreciate the modern inventions that makes cake decorating a breeze these days.
There are instructions for decorating a 3 tier cake entirely with gumpaste as well. No pictures.
Modelling in Marzipan
A short chapter on making your own moulds from wood or brimstone. No pictures.
Instructions for making flowers from a mixture of gumpaste and marzipan, as well as how to use the flowers to decorate marzipan plaques or cakes. A popular item for Christmas, he writes. There are progress pictures, and the flowers are very basic.
Modelling of Fruits
What the title says. And from marzipan. Who doesn’t love marzipan fruits? They are cute and edible, and the instructions are for freehand modelling, not moulds. There are instructions for cherries, apples, pears, apricots, peaches, plums (and greengages), black and green grapes, as well as lemons and oranges. Strawberries and raspberries, he writes, requires a mould. No pictures.
Painting of Marzipan Fruits
For those of you who like your marzipan fruit all nice and tinted, this is the chapter for you. It tells you how to paint marzipan fruits, which brushes to use and how to mix the edible paint. No pictures.
Shop Window Attraction
How to make awesome window display pieces for your very own bakery. How about a pillow with flowers, a giant chocolate egg, or perhaps a tiny car, driven by the Easter Bunny? You know you want to. Again, the instructions are superficial, but they are there, and if you have experience, you should be able to figure it out.
Vegetable Flower Cutting
Vegetables = turnips. So basically it’s how to turn turnips into something pretty and flowery. There is also some decorating of a ham, and the infamous beef tongue lyre, known from many a vintage baking book. And lest we forget, the wildly popular Boar’s Head. A Christmas staple in Northern Europe since medieval times, whether a real boar’s head or one made from bread or cake. Today they are mostly made from some kind of gingerbread, but back in the day it used to be a really big deal. Farmers in some areas of Scandinavia saved the boar shaped bread for the oldest farmhand to eat in the spring time. Sometimes it was fed to the horses as well. This was considered to be good luck and was done to ensure a year with plenty of food and a good harvest. But this boar’s head is not bread, it’s the real deal. Boned and pickled, stuffed with force-meat and decorated with turnips and elegantly piped butter. Merry Christmas.
And with that stunner of a centerpiece, we are left only with the index. It’s a nice index, useful and short. So, in spite of net nails and all, I highly recommend this book. The cakes are beautiful, the pictures are plentiful and it’s a nice, big book. The only drawback is that it can be difficult to find, but I guess that’s part of the fun as well.