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Years ago, before canned frostings came on the market, bakers and housewives prided themselves on being able to produce cakes with snowy white, impossibly fluffy cooked frostings. This frosting, called seven-minute frosting or divinity frosting, is an old recipe. It is not especially difficult to make, but does take constant attention.
Seven-minute frosting is a cooked vanilla frosting, suitable for frosting cakes or cupcakes. It has been around for many years, since it uses simple ingredients which have been readily available to most cooks. The “seven-minute” in the name refers to the time needed to beat the frosting.
A cook wanting to make seven-minute frosting for the first time should always sit down with the recipe and read it over thoroughly, to make sure he or she understands every step in the process. Preparation is key in this recipe. The cook should first cut a small piece of cardboard and poke a hole in it for each beater. Place the cardboard over the beater holes and insert the mixer beaters. Tape the cardboard to the body of the mixer, if necessary. This sounds strange, but this kind of frosting tends to “walk” up the beaters and the cardboard keeps the frosting from getting into the mixer itself. Next, the cook needs to make sure his bowl and beaters are absolutely clean. Any grease or fat on the beaters will keep the egg whites from stiffening properly.
The cook should then prepare either a double boiler or use a heatproof mixing bowl. The water should be boiling, but should not touch the upper pan or bowl. The cook should also separate the egg whites ahead of time, and measure out all other ingredients so she will not have to fumble for something while mixing the seven-minute frosting.
The ingredients for a basic seven-minute frosting recipe are simple. The recipe calls for 2 egg whites, 1 1/2 cups sugar (341 grams), 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or light corn syrup; pinch salt, 1/3 cup water (71 milliliters) and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Add all ingredients to pan or mixing bowl and beat for one minute. Place pan or bowl over boiling water and beat continuously on high speed for seven minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Beat in vanilla. Frost cake or cupcakes. This recipe will frost two standard cake layers. Other flavorings, such as almond or lemon, may be added, as well as small amounts of food coloring to tint the seven-minute frosting.
A word to the wise: do not attempt this frosting on a rainy day or when it is otherwise humid. The ambient moisture in the air will keep the frosting from becoming fluffy. A cool, clear day is best. The seven-minute frosting should be in every cook’s baking arsenal.