Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mystery Frosting Quiz

In the preliminary negotiations re: Jessica's birthday cake (and believe me, cake is no light diplomatic matter around here), she mentioned that she loves the icing that used to be found in old school Italian-American bakeries. According to her, this treat is not a straight buttercream, not a stiffened whipped cream, and it used to be sold packaged in stores when we were young. (Update: Jessica says it was not packaged in stores, but available on supermarket sheet cakes). My inquiries have yielded very little decisive info except the fact that large bakeries use wholesale quantities of gross-sounding products like 'Sweetex' and 'Bright White.' I have a feeling that this icing lives differently in the memories of everyone, and if you asked ten people they'd all say they remembered it and each be describing a different one. So far, I have one recipe I think might get me close, and I'll say no more until it comes to the test.

But, this seems like an excellent opportunity to open up the question, in the manner of the wicked son. What does 'old-fashioned Italian bakery sheet cake frosting' mean to you? Got a recipe? A memory? Please share. Your contributions could prevent an international incident.


Unknown said...

I am very excited that my birthday cake is the subject of Katya's blog today!!! I would like to make 2 points of clarification:

1. This frosting is still found in Italian bakeries
2. It wasn't sold packaged in grocery stores, but came on the cakes that you could order FROM the grocery stores--you know, the sheet cakes with the frosting roses. I liked the pink ones.

Katya said...

Stacey says:
i wonder where jessica remembers this from - a bakery here in
brooklyn? or somewhere in michigan? when i hear sheet cake, i think of
that horrid stuff that is probably basically corn syrup and crisco,
horrid business. in the italian bakeries around my neighborhood very little is frosted, actually - they seem to be more into sugar,
chocolate, jam, cream or custard. very interesting.

Catherine said...

the italian bakeries in my old neighborhood had some sort of hard whipped cream-tasting frostings. they didn't have the sugariness of the grocery store sheet cake icing, but they had the hardness. although that also could've been because they were dried out a little so they could be written on with other frosting?

Anonymous said...

my mother and her sister swear by the birthday cakes they used to get as kids in cleveland, to the extent that, before my mom moved back there, she would bring a cake back to brooklyn with her when she went to visit. the frosting is very sweet and white and fluffy; sort of buttery but sort of chemical-y; and there's a whole lot of it. it's good in a nostalgic, sort of trashy way, but it can be pretty overwhelming. i don't think the bakery is/was italian, but you can google it -- look up "hough cleveland" or somesuch.