Home cooks use Icing Sugar principally to make Icing or frosting and other cake decorations. It is often dusted onto baked goods to add a subtle sweetness and delicate decoration. This brand of Icing Sugar was available in coloured and flavoured versions.
When mixed with water the Icing is called ‘Water Icing’, when mixed with egg white it is ‘Royal Icing’ which is the classic icing for Christmas and Wedding Cakes – it is ‘royal’ because it was the British Royal Family that used it for their wedding cakes, and naturally if the Royals did it, then we copied it. Butter Cream is made with Icing Sugar and butter or margarine and is used as either a filling for Victoria Sponges or spread on the top of cakes as decoration.
Icing has been around since the eighteenth century; before that, there was not the technology to refine the sugar appropriately. The first icing was similar to royal icing, it was spread over the top of the cake but then the cake was returned to the oven to set hard. The final result was a nice flat, shiny surface like that of a frozen lake, hence we call it Icing.
Various grades of powdered sugar are used in industrial food production when a quick-dissolving sugar is required. Icing Sugar is one of the finest grades of sugar used.
The finer particles of Icing Sugar absorb more moisture, which results in ‘caking’. Icing Sugar or powdered sugar, also called confectioners’ sugar, is a finely ground sugar produced by milling granulated sugar into a powdered state. It usually contains between 2% and 5% of an anti-caking agent – such as corn starch or potato starch. Because of anti-caking agents, it cannot always be used as a substitute for granulated sugar.
Snow powder (or snow sugar) is a non-melting form of icing sugar used for visual appeal on cakes or pastries that require refrigeration. It usually contains glucose, starch and anti-binding agents which gives it a vibrant white colour, and retains its structure and look good even when dusted onto baked items that are slightly wet, like fruit bars and tarts. It will not melt even if it is sprinkled on whipped cream or ice cream. It is mostly used for decorative purposes.
In 1877, Norwegian Quaker Sivert Hjerlied established a company for the manufacturing of icing sugar until 1886 when the works were taken over by Walter and Martin Pumphrey. The Pumphrey family specialised in sugar milling, almond processing and the manufacturing of preserves. The Pumphrey’s Factory closed in the 1970s to make way for the new road system which was to be connected to the A66.