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History of English Over-Piping & Lambeth Method Cake Decorating

The following information was shared by several cake artist; it is really hard to figure exactly where the English overpiping really began; we know in Europe.  There are many extraordinary cake artists who authored books on overpiping in the late 1800's.  If you have any other information you would like to share on the history, please contact Kathleen Lange.


History of European Overpiping & The Lambeth Method of Cake Decorating

European overpiping techniques were first thought to have developed in Italy, then lost to France, then lost to Germany and then to the UK; they call the style English overpipng.

A gentleman by the name of Secunda Pietro Borella, born in Italy in 1864; he was married to Annie Maria from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and had a son by the name of Guiseppe and a daughter Stella.  S.P. Borella wrote one of the first books on European cake decorating techniques in 1901 and passed away while living in Hendon, London October 1939; at the age of 75.

Cake Decorating and embellishments were handed down from generation-to-generation European bakeries, since the beginning of cake decorating. There have been many cake design artist throughout Europe, adding their own flair and styles to English overpiping techniques.

The Lambeth Method of Cake Decorating became popular when Joseph Lambeth visited from the United States and was a constant competitor and successful award winner at the International Food and Confectionery Exposition of London, and Provinces, Great Britain, for a period of 12 years.  He won several gold and silver medals, diplomas and awards.

Joseph Lambeth moved from the United States, starting a pastry school in England called the Lambeth Decorating School.   Lambeth popularized English overpiping by add his own flair; he did not invent the method. Joseph Lambeth published a book called the" Lambeth Method of Cake Decorating and Practical Pastries," first published in 1934. Some of the pictures in the book were also done by Mrs. Joseph Lambeth the ninth and last printing of his book was in 1980.

The Lambeth Method was not only used in competition, but Joseph Lambeth also used buttercream frosted and decorated cakes in a lot of his designs.  In the Lambeth Method Cake Decorating book, he explains making royal icing baskets, flowers, run sugar plaques gum paste and pastillage structures ahead of time, to be used and place on cakes when receiving orders from a customer.

The English overpiping techniques require a lot of practice, pressure control and precision.  This method requires repetition in which gives any cake design artist precision and the ability to do any design in frosting, an ultimate challenge for a piping cake design artist.

There are several different distinguished forms of cake design artistry using many different piping techniques; Australian, South African and Nirvana to name a few. All design work was done with egg white royal icing, true precision and piping techniques.

A true cake design artist should know how work to with all the mediums in cake decorating / confectionery arts and add their own modernized versions and styles to the older style techniques; this will allow cake decorating to progress throughout the coming years and add interest to more distinguished old school styles, while keeping the traditions of older techniques alive.

Since Kathleen Lange attended her very first cake decorating class in January 1980, the Lambeth Method has remained one of her all-time favorite techniques in cake decorating. Intrigued by the dimensional work and the challenge of precision, she considers herself fortunate to have studied extensively with the world-renowned Hall-of-Fame Decorator Betty Newman-May. Kathleen completed a 150-hour course known as the “Lambeth Method” Master Course of cake decorating, widely regarded as one of the most unique international methods of cake decorating today.

Today, Kathleen is a highly regarded innovator and is internationally known for her expertise in the Lambeth Method. She has revitalized this old-school technique by infusing it with her own contemporary, romanticized, and modernized flair. As a result, Kathleen has gained prominence as an instructor, renowned for her Lange/Lambeth Boot Camps, as well as for her skills in confectionery sugar art and the quality of her demonstrations and classes. Kathleen's passion and expertise inspire enthusiasm in everyone who attends her sessions.

Lambeth Wedding Cake, 1984 - Kathleen's final cake after completing Betty Newman-May's 150-hour class.

"Victorian Elegance - 2009 Kathleen used her own style and techniques to add a contemporary, romanticized, and modernized flair to the Old School Lambeth Method.

History – Some of the Main Cake Decorators Regarding Royal Icing

The following names are famous confectionery artists since the late 1800s who have contributed to the art of royal icing by creating new designs and techniques to share their cake decorating art worldwide.

Traditionally, decorating has been inspired by nature, antiques, and lifelike works of art. As techniques evolve, modern artists infuse their own styles, adding a contemporary twist to traditional methods.

We apologize if we have missed listing anyone's name or information. If so, please Contact Kathleen, at Confectionary Chalet to provide your details.

The following Information was shared by:

  • Christine Flinn - Master Royal Icer, Author, Tutor, and Demonstrator - United Kingdom

  • Barry Dickinson - Cake Artist & History of Cake Decorating Library

To the best of Christine Flinn's knowledge, the main creators of all the piping techniques we use today stem from Herr Willy, Edwin Shur, Ernest Schulbe, George Cox, S.P. Borella - everyone thereafter could, in theory, be classified as a copier.

United Kingdom

  • Ernest Schulbe - German, based in Withington, Manchester, England, book published in 1898 and 1906.

  • Herr T. Willy

  • R. Gommez - 1895

  • Edwin Schur- based Putney, a district of Southwest London (his son Fred piped Queen Elizabeth's wedding cake 1954) wrote at least one book 1901?

  • George Cox - book published in 1903.

  • Francis Dingle

  • S.P. Borella - Italian wrote many books but the main cake decorating book was published in 1910.

  • George Burton - creator of the run sugar flange based in Blackpool, Lancashire, England, wrote a number of books in the 1920s.

  • R. Jenkins (Belgravia, London)

  • Nirvana

  • Ronnie Rock - (one of the best royal icers from the UK) Born 1916 South East London, died 1958 (aged 42 years) Father; - Ronald Walter Charles Rock; Mother- Florence Eleanor Atkinson; Father/Grandfather operated a bakery – W. Rock and Sons A picture of one of Ronnie Rocks competition cakes can be found in the book- Cake Design and Decoration by L.J. Hanneman and G.I. Marshall- Pg. 173

  • Alex Bransgrove

  • Eddie Spence- Master of Royal Icing, Tutor, Demonstrator, Author, one of many Designers for Royalty Cakes - United Kingdom - Kathleen attended a 3-day master class with Eddie in April 2014 - Rome, Italy

  • Audrey Holding- Tutor, based Glossop, Derbyshire, England

  • Stuart (Stewart) Grey (Gray) - was a Tutor, at Salford College, Manchester

  • Reg Oakes - Tutor Salford, Manchester, England

  • Lindsay John Bradshaw - was a Tutor at Salford College, Manchester, England

  • Colin Burge - based in London?

  • Nadene Hurst - was a Tutor at Salford College, Manchester, England

  • Lesley Herbert - was a Tutor at Brooklands College, England

  • Chris Jeffcoate - was a Tutor at Brooklands College, England

  • Christine Flinn - Tutor, from the Northeast of England now based in Warrington Cheshire, England

  • Audrey Holding- wrote two books - The Art of Royal Icing and The Practice of Royal Icing

  • Ceri Griffith - Tutor, Author specializing in English Overpiping - Cardiff, UK

  • USA

  • Joseph Lambeth - USA & London, UK -Deceased, 1947 - Tutor, Author of the Lambeth Method Book

  • Edith Gates - CA - Instructor, Demonstrator, Specializing in the Lambeth Method - Deceased

  • Betty Newman - May - Lakeside, CA - Instructor, Demonstrator, Specializing in the Lambeth Method - Deceased 1996 (Kathleen's Instructor 1980-1985 & 1994)

  • Cleve Carney - Cakes and Pastries

  • Edward Maximillian Berling - (born 1888?) Art in Confectionery and Pastry (published New York 1930)

  • Nicholas Lodge - Essex, UK & Atlanta, GA - Pastry Chef -French Pastry School, Chicago, IL, Author, International Instructor

  • Earlene Moore - Texas - Master Cake Design Artist, Instructor, Demonstrator & Business Owner- Inducted into ICES Hall of Fame - 2009

  • Carolyn Wanke - Mangold - TX & CO- Master Cake Design Artist, Instructor, Demonstrator - Inducted into ICES Hall of Fame - 2013

  • Kathleen Lange - CA & ID - Master Cake Design Artist, Int'l Instructor, Demonstrator, Specializing in the Lange Style of English Overpiping and Lambeth Method of Cake Decorating Since 1980

  • Dawn Coffin - Parrott - TX - Pastry Chef, Master Cake Design Artist, Instructor, Demonstrator Specializing in Royal Icing


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