Boiled Icing


Wednesday was a foggy, humid Nova Scotia midsummer day. The wild roses tumbling over everything, thistles sending up their spikes, blueberries just hinting at ripeness – the thick air scented like fruit and flowers. This is the weather that stretches memories all the way back to the idyllic summers of childhood.

Eleanor and I spent this particular afternoon in our dear neighbour’s kitchen. I requested that she make a traditional Nova Scotia dessert with me and she kindly obliged. She is such a good sport that way. I wanted to see how boiled icing is made. Having seen this mysterious, glistening topping at several community suppers recently, I was curious. It turns out that it is very simple, which is why it has been a mainstay in rural Nova Scotia since the turn of the century.

I raided my hens’ nest boxes for fresh eggs and off we went. We threw together a one bowl chocolate cake – two layers, because layered cakes are pretty. We compared recipes and went with the handwritten one below. The directions are dead simple. You will need a thermometer, a double boiler, a retro mixmaster (or a stand mixer), an espresso to keep you going, and a toddler for stirring.

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The blank canvas of this cake begged for decoration. We sprinkled on some borage flowers and calendula petals because we are drowning in beautiful edible flowers around here. Help!

I learned a great tip for icing cakes: slide waxed paper sheets between your cake and your plate when icing and pull them out when you are done for clean presentation.

I have never had much of sweet tooth, but lately I can’t stop thinking about cakes. They are just so fun and gorgeous. How about this one? It is pretty much the most famous cake on the internet right now.


Please come over and help me eat this cake. I sent half home with my cousin today but I still have a few incredibly sweet slices left.


I would so love to hear some words from readers. Please click on the orange circle to the right below to leave a comment and your contact info. Thank you for reading!


6 thoughts on “Boiled Icing

  1. I think I can safely say that, of all the boiled icing cakes I’ve had at community suppers in my day, this is the most beautiful of all. Edible flowers on a boiled icing cake? A first? A must!

  2. what a joy to share old traditions – boiled icing – and make new ones – calendula petal topping – with new friends. Thanks.

  3. I love your blog! It is always a reminder of the sweet an simple parts of life. I was wondering: where did you get Eleanor’s little apron? Did you make it?

  4. Kate, that is a dress or pinafore by O Sweet Madeline – you can find her at the Kentville Farmer’s Market and online. Her stuff is gorgeous!

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