Sunday, 13 January 2008

Seven Minute Frosting

This is an old-fashioned frosting, with a fluffy marshmallow texture, that is has stayed popular for a long time. It uses less sugar than most icing recipes (and no fat!), but it still seems extremely sweet because there is so little else in it besides sugar. It is fairly flexible about flavouring; you can replace some or all of the white sugar with brown sugar or Sucanat for a caramel flavour; or use lemon or orange extract with lemon or orange juice in place of the water. Mint extract would work, and probably coffee would work as a flavouring as well. I'm told that you can fold in an ounce of chocolate, melted, once the frosting comes off the stove, for chocolate frosting, but I have never tried that.

This single egg-white recipe makes just enough to frost the top and middle of a 9" 2-layer cake. If you want to frost the sides as well, you should double the recipe. I find it so sweet that in most cases the single recipe will be plenty, if a little less glamorous, and of course if you are only making a single layer it will be enough.

Don't frost the cake too long before serving it if you can help it. I noticed that the middle layer of frosting got absorbed into the cake after it sat for a day.

Chocolate Cake with Seven Minute Frosting3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cold water
1 extra-large egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla or other flavouring extract

Combine all the ingredients except the vanilla in the top of a double boiler (or in a metal bowl that will be supported by the rim of a pot without touching the water in it.)

Bring the pot of water to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Put the top of the double boiler, or the metal bowl, over the pot and begin beating the contents with an electric mixer. Continue to beat for 5 to 7 minutes, until the frosting is stiff enough to stand in peaks. Have a spatula standing by, and scrape down the sides occasionally.

Remove the frosting from the heat, and beat in the vanilla or other flavouring extract. Continue to beat the frosting for a minute or two. Let the frosting cool somewhat before icing the cake. This icing is best put on the cake just before it is served, and can be kept chilled in a covered container for up to 24 hours, although it may become ever so slightly sandy in texture if kept that long. It should be at room-temperature in order to spread.

This recipe may be doubled; but you should also increase your pan size; not just in depth but also in width in order to ensure that the mixture cooks evenly. It is possible that it may take a minute or two longer to be done.

Making Seven Minute FrostingThis photo shows an improvised double boiler. There should be room for an inch or so of water in the bottom of the pot, and the water should not touch the metal bowl. The bowl does need to be metal; other materials will respond too slowly to changes in temperature.

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