Introducing Icings ~1902

Frosting and Icing Recipes.

Cooked and Uncooked Icings.

Homemade icing is simple to make, yet the automatic reflex is to reach for the pre-made frosting in a plastic tub on the grocer’s shelf. Why is that? It always leaves a cloying taste of sweetened preservatives that only the kids will eat (by the spoonful, no less). The adults in the room? Not so much. Time to leave that frosting in the back of the pantry and break out the powdered sugar for some icing fun!

Here’s the breakdown on our options: Uncooked and Cooked. Simple? I think so, too.

Cake Icings and Decorations 1902

The author further breaks down frosting categories by identifying what materials one will need for uncooked icing, namely powdered sugar, or confectioner’s sugar, and fresh eggs and other flavoring ingredients. Interestingly, there’s a clear distinction between confectioner’s sugar and powdered sugar in this early 1900s era cookbook. Today, one hundred and some odd years later, confectioner’s sugar and powdered sugar are the same commercial product, though there may be regional differences in the term one prefers to use. That’s cool. Whatever works. (Just for the record, though, I grew up calling in powdered sugar.)

Simple Icing Ingredients 1900s

Story time! Not long after my daughter began taking home economics classes, she learned how to make a simple buttercream frosting. Overnight, it seemed, my confectioner’s sugar began disappearing and bowls of half-eaten frosting dyed fantastical colors magically appeared, tucked back behind the yogurt in the fridge. Suspicious.

Powdered sugar is now a shelf staple in my home because it is so easy to whip up a simple icing. Cupcakes? Got it. Doughnuts? No problem. Spice cake? Yup. Just feeling like you need a spoonful of frosting? Okay, we got that, too.

Mocha Cream Butter Icing.

Notes from the past… This Butter Icing (Mocha Cream) was a popular recipe for my cookbook’s previous owner. The annotations read “2 times for Sunday night, Excellent with chocolate.” Chocolate cake with mocha cream icing? Yes, please! Who else is loving that these four magical words are combined together into one amazing confection?


Decorative Icing.

Any cake decorators out there? Check out this overview of piping bags, decorative tips, and advice on getting started, namely trial and error.


Today’s home cake decorator enjoys some of the same tools as one hundred years ago. Frosting bags for piping and the tips used for making different decorative frosting bits seem to be timeless! Look familiar?

Source: Practical Cooking and Serving c. 1902.

More Fun Discoveries from Antique Cookbooks

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