This recipe must be well over 100 years old in “Swingin’ Along’s” family by now. At that point in time the average homemaker didn’t have an electric mixer or rotary beater (invented 1884), so a wire whisk was probably used. Mom had a whisk that was shaped like a spring in an oval shape attached to the handle. I remember seeing her making a meringue using that whisk.
Without a thermometer the cooked syrup had to be tested with a dish of water near by. This clipping does a good job of describing when the syrup is at the “spinning a thread” stage. When making divinity or fudge from scratch, you might cook the syrup to the soft ball stage by dropping a tiny bit from the cooking spoon into the water.
I don’t think Swingin’ is referring to the density of the frosting itself when she says , “If you wanted an especially thick frosting….” because the remedy would only make more frosting. Instead, I think she’s referring to whether you want the frosting to be 1/4″ thick on the cake or 1/2″ thick. She does advise about the perils of making frosting too thick on a stacked cake, though.
Here is a boiled icing used by my mother over 60 years ago. The old rule was 1 cup sugar to each egg white used. If you wanted an especially thick frosting, add another cup sugar and another egg white.
She used to bake cakes for parties and weddings and would sometimes tint frosting a delicate pink, a feat that was rather hard to do before commercial fruit colorings were on the market, and when the layers were stacked up, lo, the frosting was as thick as the layers and the cake as tall as it was broad! A little experience is all that is needed to get the knack; anyone who is adept with candies will know how. The method of boiling the syrup is similar to that used when making fondant candy, and the finished product is like marshmallow creme or divinity.
For an average three-layer cake use 2 cups sugar, one-half cup water and 2 egg whites. Beat whites to peaks in quite a large bowl, as they puff up when syrup is poured. Combine sugar and water and stir cold to dissolve, then boil without stirring until syrup will spin a hair when dropped from spoon. Watch closely; you can almost tell by the size of the bubbles when it is done. Just dip in spoon, letting syrup drop off in a thin stream and when it is about ready the last few drops will spin a hair.
Lift immediately and pour in a thin stream over the beaten egg whites, beating quickly all the while to cook whites in hot syrup. Continue beating until mixture looks glossy and is fairly thick, three or four minutes. Add (1) teaspoon vanilla, stir, and it is (re)ady to spread. Have layers cold or (coo)l, spread on all layers, let stand (a m)oment to be sure icing won’t roll (down, t)hen Stack. –Swingin’ Along, Iowa.
I’m guessing the words that are in the piece that’s missing.