Common Terms

Armature: An underlying, unseen, supporting component usually of wood, plaster, wax or metal. This structure would be covered by sugar paste.

Banquetting stuffes: The final course of a banquet, usually dedicated to sugar work and confections.

Binder: A substance used to “stick” two unlikely ingredients or materials together, usually a starch, gum or egg.

Fondant: A modern, moldable sugar paste made with water and white sugar, bound together by gelatin.

Glair: A glaze or size made of egg white.

Paper maché: French for ‘chewed paper’, it is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, often reinforced with textiles and bound with a starch. Paper pulp was a by-product of the book binding industry. Modern paper pulp can be purchased at any craft store or online.

Paste board: A type of thin board made by pasting together sheets of paper. Pasteboard was a by- product of the book binding industry. The modern equivalent of pasteboard might be a heavy weight card stock or thin, non corrugated cardboard.

Pastry powder: This is a modern powdered, non-toxic paint color used for decorating pastry. These colors can be used dry and dabbed on with a dry brush or activated using alcohol to create a brushable paint. Pearl paint or luster dust is a type of dry paint that has a luminescence to it.

Refined sugar: Sugar that has been extracted from a plant material such as sugar cane or sugar beets. The higher grade of the sugar, the greater yield of clean, purified, usable sugar was available to the end user.

Sizing- Any substance used to coat or fill the fibers of a support. It protects an under lying layer from other layers that may cause damage or deterioration.

Sugar paste: A moldable paste made with water and white sugar, bound together by tragacanth gum. Sugar paste can be formulated for a variety purposes, including sculptural and edible. Formulas for sugar paste have not evolved much from the first formulas in the 15th century.

Tragacanth gum: A viscous, odorless, tasteless and water-soluble sap which is drained from the root of the plant and dried. These qualities make it an excellent binder. In period recipes, these qualities would be used to bind the rosewater and egg whites with the sugar. This gives sugar paste its elastic qualities. Modernly, powdered tragacanth gum can be purchased from specialty and online pastry vendors.


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