Sugar and Precursors of Today’s Sugar Craft Courses

Sugar and Precursors of Today’s Sugar Craft Courses

According to the old children’s nursery rhyme that appears to have its origin in 19th-century Britain, little girls are made of “sugar and spice and all things nice”, while the outlook for little boys is rather less pleasant – “snakes and snails and puppy dogs’ tails”.  If the rhyme was penned today, some would be up in arms!

Highly Prized and Priced Commodities

However, the rhyme illustrates the fact that spices and sugar were still highly prized commodities at that time, while the old spice routes, fraught with danger, were travelled to the East via land and sea in order to obtain fragrant spices for Europe’s wealthy classes. Sugar was also scarce and very expensive, only within the means of the most affluent.

Baking and the Addition of Sugar

Before the advent of cake decorating and the evolution of the subsequent art of sugar craft, use of honey and sugar to make sweet treats goes back to ancient times. It is thought that the ancient Egyptians learnt baking from the Babylonians as far back as 1175 BC, and that they may have produced sugar-sweetened baked goods by 700 BC.

From Almond Paste to Marzipan

It appears that an almond paste, covering wedding cakes, was the forerunner of modern cake decorating and sugar craft. This was followed by a new trend in the 1660s – a crust of sugar, decorated with baubles. During the same century, Italian pastry chefs discovered how to sculpt sugar confectionary adornments. A 100 years later, in England, bakers took to covering rich cakes with a layer of marzipan and icing, and soon the race was on to create the most elaborately decorated confectionary.

Cutting-Edge Sugar Craft Courses

 The Oxford Dictionary defines sugar craft as “the art of creating confectionary or cake decorations from sugar paste”, but our modern, cutting-edge sugar craft courses – Certificate in Sugar Craft and Advanced Cakes and Decorations – take our students at South Africa’s renowned Prue Leith’s chefs’ school beyond decorating, into the realm of creative, edible art.

Certificate in Sugar Craft

 This excellent course is designed for people who are enthralled by the dream of creating sugar craft masterpieces and also culinary students who wish to add something truly special to their baked goods. After obtaining your certificate upon completion of this 3-month part-time course, the door is open for you to enrol in our Advanced Cakes and Decorations course to master more specialised techniques. During 13 half-day sessions – mornings or afternoons – you’ll be taught the following skills:

  • Sugar flowers and modelling paste.
  • Royal icing.
  • Brush embroidery and embossing.
  • Piping techniques.
  • Modern and traditional cake design.
  • Covering of cakes.
  • Fruit cakes and marzipan.
  • Final presentation.

Advanced Cakes and Decorations Course

 Prue Leith’s advanced course introduces skilled home bakers, holders of the Certificate in Sugar Craft, chefs, and bakers to the world of French patisserie during four intensive days’ training on:

  • The theory on necessary techniques to assemble advanced cakes.
  • Cake bases and inserts, including sponges, mousses, jellies, pastries, and advanced pastry creams.
  • Finishing techniques – spraying, ganache, icings, glazes, jaconde, and piping.
  • Garnishings, including macaroons, basic chocolate, crystallised fruit, and sugar

Enrol for Prue Leith’s sugar craft courses and learn from the best to how to decorate like a professional pastry artist.