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How to make a Renaissance sugar sculpture

Learn how to make a sugar sculpture, a small yet luxurious art spectacle from the Renaissance Period. Food historian Tasha Marks demonstrates how to create these displays from a sugar plate recipe in this episode of The British Museum‘s Pleasant Vices series.

The history of sugar sculpture is one of status, power and storytelling, so what forms you choose to make and what tales you choose to tell are up to you – but as Tasha will show you it takes just three ingredients to create a decoration that could last for centuries.

Recipe: 454g icing sugar, 28g gum tragacanth, 61ml rosewater.

The video is a follow-up to this sugar-in-history explainer in which Marks discusses the history of sugar in the United Kingdom, including its roles as a medicine, a luxury item, and an artistic medium. She also describes the inextricable link between sugar and slavery in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In the museum’s collection: Blue glass sugar bowl inscribed in gilt ‘EAST INDIA SUGAR/not made by/SLAVES’, circa 1820.

Next: Casdoce, a confection made for lords & emperors, Incredible Amezaiku candy animal sculptures by Shinri Tezuka, and Food of the Enslaved: Michael Twitty cooks recipes from American history.

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