We’ve already published several posts on the arts and techniques of sugar boiling from a variety of cookery and confectionery books and manuscripts.
William Jarrin’s The Italian Confectioner of 1820 begins his book with “Section I. OF SUGAR.” Following his advice on the quality of sugars and their types available in 1820, he next talks about clarifying those sugars. Then comes the advice on sugar boiling:
No. 4.-- Degree of Boiling the Sugar.
Confectioners, in general, have seven essential degrees of boiling sugar, or bases of their art: (1) Le Lissé, or thread, large or small; (2) le perlé or pearl; (3) le soufflet, the blow; (4) la plume, the feather; (5) le boulet, the ball, large or small; (6) le cassé, the crack; and (7) the caramel.
No. 5.-- A Thread.
Dip the tip of your fore-finger into the syrup, and apply it to your thumb; on parting them, you will find a thread, which will break at a little distance, and remain as a drop on the finger; this is the small thread; if the thread be longer, it is the great thread. [p 3]
No. 6.-- A Pearl.
When you separate your thumb and finger, and the thread reaches, without breaking, from one to the other, it is the small pearl; if the finger and thumb be stretched to their utmost extent, and the thread remain unbroken, it is the large pearl; this may also be known by the bubbles on the boiling sugar, which are round and raised; but this test is not always sure.
No. 7.-- A Blow
May be known by dipping the skimmer into the sugar, shaking it, and blowing through the holes: if in doing this, sparks of light or bubbles be seen, we may be sure of the blow.
No. 8.-- A Feather.
The larger and greater quantity of bubbles, when blown through the skimmer, are the large feather. [p 4]
We’ll continue with the last of Jarrin’s instructions on sugar boiling in the next post.