By Sir Ian Kennoven.
For the Coronation dinner of Marcus III and Margerite of Æthelmearc, held at Harvest Raid in the Shire of Heronter on September 24, I created an edible crown. There are several crown styles available to the monarchs of Æthelmearc, but the Byzantine style looked to be the simplest to reproduce, so that is where I started. My intent is to do the others at some future date…
Master Janos (majordomo for the reign) provided me a with few pictures of the crown in his care.
I then made a cardstock mock-up and shaping form.
Next, I mixed up a batch of sugarpaste:
- 1/2 tsp. gum tragacanth
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. orange blossom water
- 1 Tb. egg white
- 12 to 16 oz. sugar, ground fine
Wet the gum with the lemon juice then add the orange blossom water and egg white.
Rest for several minutes and slowly incorporate the sugar until the desired consistency is reached.
The paste was rolled out and with the mock-up used as a template, the front piece was cut out. I worked the piece flat (smoothed the center areas and textured the borders), but when it was lifted to place onto the form the surface crinkled and much of the detail was lost. The form was too flimsy to work on, so if I make this crown again, I will create a more rigid form to work upon. The sugar was cured for a day in the dehydrator before being removed from the form. The sides were then cut. They slid off the form through the night, but luckily broke along the lines delineating the individual plaques. I now had an eight-piece sculpture instead of four.
They were placed back on the form and cured for another day before being removed so that the back piece could be manufactured.
A template was made and the escarbuncles were quickly cut out of sugarpaste using an X-Acto knife.
Once all the pieces had cured for a few days it was time to gold & silver leaf them. Each section was painted with egg white and allowed to dry. Twenty-four sheets of edible gold leaf and six sheets of edible silver leaf later, they were shiny.
I made a very quick plaster mold from wax cabochons. They shifted on me while pouring the plaster, but enough were workable to make the carnelians. After melting out the wax and allowing the form to cool, it was soaked overnight in water. I dissolved 1 cup of granular sugar in 1/2 cup of water, tossed in a small red beet from the garden and a tablespoonful of red sandalwood powder. (Editor’s note: red sandalwood, or sanders, is edible, while brown sandalwood used for incense is inedible.) This was brought to around 200 degrees Fahrenheit then the solids were strained out. The syrup was quickly placed back on the heat, brought to 300 F, removed from the heat and the bottom of the pan was placed briefly in cool water. The mold was patted dry and a spoon was used to drip syrup into the mold. As they cooled the carnelians were popped out and more were cast.
Once cooled the sugar carnelians were glued in place with a thinned-out version of the sugarpaste.
This was allowed to rest for a day, then the whole was assembled using the same sugar glue. The crown was placed in the dehydrator overnight.
The seams were then covered in gold leaf and the crown was returned to the dehydrator for another night.
I presented the subtlety to Their Majesties about halfway through the feast. By the end of the meal, Her Majesty had broken the crown into pieces and distributed them to be eaten by the populace.
Reprinted from Sir Ian’s blog. All photos courtesy of Sir Ian, except where noted.