Amazing Cakes #29: Fondant Fancies

When you hear the name Fondant Fancies you immediately think of Mr Kipling’s yellow, chocolate and pink creations. Or if you live in Yorkshire like me, you might have even tasted the delectable version which Betty’s creates. I must admit I find Fondant Fancies too sweet and sickly, even though I’ve got a sweet tooth. The other week I met my friend at Betty’s and while she had a Fondant Fancy, I tucked into a Fat Rascal! Her Fondant Fancy looked so pretty though, with the icing and delicate pink flowers.

Last Thursday and Friday were my main baking days for SmartCookieSam as I had had my Mum up here visiting. I had an afternoon tea order as well as some brownies and shortbread to go out to customers. I thought of what I could maybe offer as an option on my afternoon teas and Fondant Fancies came into my head. Although I don’t really like eating them, there are plenty of people who do.

For Fondant Fancies you start off by baking a square shaped sponge cake. I did this in one of my square tins I use for my brownies, etc. It was a simple sponge, delicately flavoured with lemon.

As soon as I started baking, I realised I had not got any marzipan in. I only tend to have marzipan in around Christmas for my Christmas cakes and also at Easter for Simnel Cake. I’d been to do my shop the day before and completely forgot. Luckily later on that day I was heading out to the post office to ship my brownies and shortbread and the village shop it was attached to has a wonderful array of baking products. Phew!

After the sponge came out of the oven and I was home after my post office run, I removed the sponge from the tin. It had to be cooled but it was so hot in my kitchen that nothing was cooling down.

To the sponge I added a layer of apricot jam and then a layer of the marzipan on the top. The marzipan was very sticky to work with and my hands felt so hot. I had to dust the surfaces very thickly with icing sugar to stop the marzipan from sticking to it when I was rolling it out. I then put it on top of the sponge and trimmed round the edges of it.

The next job was to make up a batch of buttercream. This buttercream needed to be put in the fridge to harden up slightly but this didn’t work because as soon as I got it out of the fridge it became runny again.

The sponge cake was then cut into 16 equal squares and on top of each square I put a blob of buttercream. This blob is to create the little hump you get in the middle of a traditional fondant fancy.

Of course when you are tired, you misread recipes. This one being a complicated recipe with zillions of steps should have been read carefully and I didn’t. I was meant to put the cakes into the fridge to harden up again for 20 minutes but I didn’t. This then made the next steps more tricky. I had to crumb coat each of the four sides of the fondant fancies with the rest of the buttercream. This was very awkward. How do you hold the blinking things and ensure that they are all covered without getting your hands covered in more buttercream?

Now for another complicated part. The recipe asked for roll out fondant icing or sugar paste which to make runny you have to put in a mixer with water to make it runny. I felt this made it extremely messy and didn’t give the effect I wanted. I wondered whether I should have bought some fondant icing sugar instead and coloured it with food colouring. I started off trying to colour the pink icing first. It took ages to get even a hint of pink with the food colouring I have at the moment (a mixed box of Wilton food colours, which to be honest I’m not a fan of, compared to the likes of Sugarflair, etc.) The cakes from not been hard enough through not being in the fridge, were difficult to hold and the icing just went everywhere. It was meant to pour over the cakes but it didn’t. It was too thick despite me following how much water to add to the icing. I tried spreading it with a small pallette knife but that made it even messier!

Then I tried to colour the rest of the icing yellow. Unfortunately the yellow in my food colouring set doesn’t bring the icing out a deliciate pastel yellow, it came out as this flourescent, lurid yellow like you would have on a high-viz vest! You’d be able to spot it from the International Space Station. By this time I had given up caring and so long as I’d got the bloody things iced and all the stuff cleared up, I didn’t care what colour it was.

Finally, I used some left over lemon drizzle icing for the pink fondant fancies which seemed to pipe on ok through my plastic bottle. But the melted chocolate was having none of it and just wouldn’t go through the hole. It just clogged up the whole time.

There’s a couple of lessons to be learned here: Don’t make Fondant Fancies when you are short of time or are tired. Always read the recipe and use ready made fondant icing sugar, not sugarpaste watered down.

I did taste one of the Fondant Fancies and it was sooooooo sickly sweet. Not my favourite bake to eat or to make, I’m afraid.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #28: Mint Chocolate Roulade

Baking roulades and Swiss Rolls always fills me with dread. They look fiddly and messy whenever I make them and the filling never looks neat when I roll them up. Or the actual sponge cracks so much.

Roulades are usually made without flour and fat and are whisked sponges baked in a flat rectangular cake tin. I have a new Swiss Roll tin but it gets used for all manner of things including roast potatoes. Before using it for cakes, I make sure it has been cleaned carefully and I always line it with baking parchment. With this cake being flour free, it is also gluten free.

Last Sunday I had my mum visiting for a few days and planned a roast chicken dinner followed by a dessert. Now it’s usually just Mr S and I at home on a Sunday (our daughter is at work and our son is at uni), we don’t usually do roasts for ourselves. I thought having my mum to stay was the perfect excuse to have a roast as well as a pudding after!

The Chocolate Roulade as featured in The Great British Bake Off Book Of Amazing Cakes looked stunning, yet fairly quick to bake. However, looking in my baking cupboard I didn’t have any plain/ dark chocolate left. I did have two bars of mint chocolate which I love. Whenever we go up to the Isle of Arran on holiday I buy bars of Mackies chocolate in the Co-op there. Where I live in North Yorkshire, you can get Mackies icet cream but not the chocolate. Mint is just one of the best flavours out there, I love it! So a Chocolate Mint Roulade it had to be, then!

First things first was to prepare the Swiss Roll tin for baking. As I said before, it was cleaned carefully as I didn’t want residues of olive oil on it from the last time I used it. Then I lined it with some baking paper. At the same time I also cut out another sheet of baking paper to use to help me roll up the roulade later.

I then melted the mint chocolate in the microwave carefully. The recipe said to do this on the stove in a bowl over simmering water, but I find it easier to do in a microwave if I do it in small stages. Then, in my KitchenAid I whisked egg yolks and caster sugar together until the mixture had turned into a thick type mousse.

As the eggs had had to be separated, in another bowl I whisked up the egg whites. They had to be whisked up until they were stiff peaks. These egg whites were then folded into the whisked yolks and sugar mixture. Finally I folded in some cocoa powder.

When the roulade was ready, I put it on a wire rack to cool down but left it in the tin until it was completely cool to move it. I still managed to make it crack as I got it out of the tin. Using the spare piece of baking parchment sprinkled with a little icing sugar, I turned the roulade out onto it upside down. I then filled it with whipped cream. As I kept doing this, the roulade started cracking. The instructions said that it was normal for it to crack. But the recipe book photo didn’t have the massive cracks that mine did! Upon looking at the roulade from above, it resembled a giant long poo! Tasted amazing though, and I sneaked a couple of off cuts!

The complete mixture was then poured into the tin and spread carefully so that it touched each corner of the tin. I then baked it in my fan oven at 160oC for roughly just over 20 minutes.

A recipe I think I will bake again as it was quite quick to make. I just need to work on the good old presentation.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #27: White Chocolate and Blueberry Layer Cake.

The White Chocolate and Blueberry Layer Cake from the Great British Bake Off Big Book Of Amazing Cakes.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve tried out a recipe from The Great British Bake Off The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes. Most of the recipes I have left over in the challenge are the more complicated ones or the ones you would bake for a special occasion. Can’t imagine me baking a three tier wedding cake just for my family to have with a cuppa!

This week I have had a lot of baking to do for smartcookiesam.com, my online baking business. These have been brownies, blondies and cookies so it was a change to bake a cake for once! I chose to bake the White Chocolate and Blueberry Cake in the Chocolate chapter of the Amazing Cakes book.

The cake is a three layer blueberry sponge filled with white chocolate buttercream and finished with another layer of buttercream. The top decoration is some more white chocolate buttercream but with blueberry jam swirled in the icing to add flavour and to turn the icing a beautiful shade of lilac.

As with baking these recipes, I look to see what ingredients I have or need to get in. I had to buy double cream in for the recipe but I didn’t have any blueberry jam. I used some blackcurrant jam we had bought on holiday on the Isle of Arran instead which is gorgeous.

After doing my blondie and cookie order, I adjusted the oven termperature to 180oC fan which was stipulated in the recipe. I then thought this was a bit too hot, so I reduced it to 160o.

The cake itself was simple to make itself in a stand mixer: unsalted butter, caster sugar, vanilla extract, free range eggs and self raising flour mixed together to create the cake batter. Then I added in the blueberries, folding them in carefully until they were combined but taking care that they wouldn’t get squashed! I prepared three 20cm/ 8″ diameter sandwich tins with greaseproof lining and Cake Release Spray.

While the cake was baking, I made the buttercream in my KitchenAid mixer. First I whipped the butter for a few minutes. While that was being whipped, I melted some white chocolate in the microwave. I know some don’t approve of using the microwave method but it works for me if I do it in short blasts of time! When the white chocolate was melted and still warm, I stirred some double cream into it. The butter was now ready for me to add the icing sugar to it. No matter how hard I try I still get icing sugar all over the worktops and on the floor even on the lowest speed on the mixer! Finally, when this was blended I added in the white chocolate cream mixture to whip up into the buttercream.

The recipe time said to bake the cake for 20-25 minutes. I checked on it after 20 minutes and I noticed they were already done and coming away from the sides of the tin. I quickly got them out of the oven and onto the cooling racks.

When it was time to ice the cake I noticed the buttercream was a bit runny. It was really hot in my kitchen and I had no spare space in my fridge to chill the cake between it’s crumb coat and needing the top layer on. I also found it impossible to do the white chocolate shavings myself as the chocolate was melting in my hot hands! When the crumb coat was on, I then split the remaining icing in two. One half went as part of the topping and then the remaining part had some of the blackcurrant jam added to it to turn it lilac. I made up a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and then piped the rose swirls on the top of the cake. As the kitchen got hotter and hotter, so did the blooming icing which drove me crazy! It was definitely too runny for my liking. The white chocolate curls were meant to go on the side of the cake but I found this far too fiddly. Instead i just sprinkled them on top.

Would I bake this cake again? Yes I would, although there are a couple of issues I have with the recipe. I think the oven temperatures are too hot and also the cooking times were too long. This is definitely a special occasion cake as you need three packets of butter, some double cream and 400g of white chocolate as well as a huge box of icing sugar! Definitely not a recipe you would bake every day. But worth it when you do. I also think that you could change the flavours by using raspberries and raspberry jam instead of blueberries.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam. xx

Chocolate Orange Tiffin (aka Terry’s Tiffin)

This blog post is written in memory of a very special person. My Dad Terry passed away on June 11th. As I was growing up, my Dad was always encouraging and enjoyed sampling my baking. In more recent years he would enjoy various treats I would make for him and my step mum. Dad was only 74 when he died after contracting Covid. Before the disease took a turn for the worse we spoke on the phone. This was to be the last conversation I had with Dad and he asked me for a favour. He asked if I would bake the staff at the hospital some cookies to say thankyou for all they did for him. It was the least I could do to help. Dad then added that he would love some of my special tiffin for when he came out of hospital.

Sadly that was not to be as the following day Dad started to deteriorate and passed away only 4 days later. I wanted to carry out his wishes and although he didn’t get to have his tiffin, I made some for our family to eat after Dad’s funeral service. I also baked some cookies and took some Rocky Road through to the hospital with a batch each for the Covid Ward and the ICU. Although I was upset going back to the same place where I had seen Dad after he had died and to talk to staff who had looked after him, it was a pleasure to make the treats for them. They were so grateful and also took the time to chat to me, asking how I was as well as how the rest of my family were coping.

One of the batches of Tiffin I baked was a chocolate orange flavouted Tiffin using melted chocolate orange chocolate bars as well as mini Terry’s Chocolate Orange Segments which you can buy in those treat/ sharing bags. The reason why I chose chocolate orange was because my Dad’s name was Terry and he used to joke “That’s my chocolate because it says Terry on it!” And that was before Dawn French was on TV advertising saying “It’s not Terry’s, it’s mine!” Not only that but Terry’s chocolate oranges were originally made in York near where Dad lived for the last twenty eight years of his life and near where I live too!

If you would like to make your own version of Terry’s Chocolate Orange Tiffin, then here is the recipe:

Terry’s Tiffin

Makes 9-12 pieces, depending on how big you like them!

You need a 9″ square tin, greased and lined with baking parchment.

Ingredients: 100g melted unsalted butter, 25g soft brown sugar, 3 tbsp Sugar and Crumbs’ Chocolate Orange Cocoa Powder, 4 tbsp golden syrup, 400g chocolate orange chocolate (such as Dairy Milk orange or any chocolate bar flavoured with orange), 200g Digestive biscuits and a sharing pack of Chocolate Orange Segments.

  1. Put the melted butter, sugar, cocoa powder and golden syrup into a bowl and mix together until combined.
  2. Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a heatproof bowl over simmering water or in the microwave in 30 second blasts.
  3. Put the digestive biscuits into a clear plastic bag and smash them into pieces with the end of a rolling pin. Try and get them in random chunks as this looks effective when you cut the tiffin up! Add in to the melted butter mixture and stir to combine. Chop the pieces of chocolate orange up and stir these into the mixture as well.
  4. Press this mixture carefully into the prepared tin, making sure it is level and filled to all four corners.
  5. Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the biscuit mixture and spread carefully.
  6. Chill in the fridge for half an hour and then slice into bars or pieces carefully. I’ve found the bars cut more easily if the knife is warm. Return to the fridge to finish off setting until needed.

I have found this Tiffin recipe is so adaptable. I’ve made other versions recently with Crunchie Bars and Maltesers and they have been really successful. Please note, some of my Tiffin photos were taken in a rush after a busy day and not of the best quality!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #26: Spanish Lemon Meringue Cake.

Helena Garcia’s Spanish Lemon Meringue Cake. Recipe from The Great British Bake Off Book of Amazing Cakes.

It has been a very difficult few weeks in our family following our recent bereavement. Blogging had been going by the wayside for a while anyway as work in school and baking for SmartCookieSam’s online business has been occupying a lot of my time. It is a shame as I love trying out new recipes.

We had a family BBQ one Sunday and although when it is hot I don’t really bother with a pudding or cake. It’s just too much effort. But a recipe in the Great British Bake Off Book Of Amazing Cakes caught my eye. In the 2019 series, the lovely Helena Garcia baked a gorgeous sounding Spanish Lemon Meringue Cake which was a childhood family favourite which her grandmother used to make. It has a digestive biscuit base like a cheesecake, a filling made of condensed milk, lemon juice and egg yolks. Then topped with meringue and a final sprinkling of crushed digestive biscuits. I thought it would be perfect to serve with berries and was an ideal summer dessert.

I was a little bit rushed by the time I wanted to start the cake. We had been over to the coast for a walk on the beach with the dog and we got back later than planned. This was down to Mr S losing his glasses on the beach so we had to go back and retrace our steps while he looked for them. They must’ve got swept out to sea. So by the time we got home, it was well into the afternoon with not much time left before the BBQ was going to be started.

I got out the cake tin I needed; a 20cm springform one and got it greased and lined. When that was done, I crushed the digestive biscuits up. I couldn’t be bothered to get my food processor out so I crushed the biscuits by hand by putting them in a clear plastic freezer bag and banging them to crumbs with the end of a rolling pin. When that was done, I melted some butter and mixed it together with the crushed digestives, save for two spare tablespoonfuls which were reserved for the top of the cake to decorate it. The rest formed the base of the cake which got pressed into the tin.

Now to work on the filling. The filling was a simple mix of lemon juice, egg yolks and condensed milk mixed together and then poured on the top of the base. Then onto the topping: I used the egg whites used after separating the yolks out to make the filling as well as some caster sugar to make the meringue. I whipped the egg whites up until the meringues formed stiff peaks and then folded in the caster sugar bit by bit. The meringue was then spooned onto the top of the cake. For a final touch the remaining digestive crumbs were spooned in the tin before baking.

The oven had been preheated since I had started getting the ingredients together and I put the cake in the oven for roughly about 25 minutes. After about this time it came out of the oven and was left to cool in the tin for 30 minutes. I found that my cake cracked slightly and that it looked a bit unappetising but that didn’t put us off it.

I’m pleased to say the cake went down extremely well and a couple of family members even had seconds. One even picked at the crumbs off it! There were some leftovers for the next day (I sneaked a piece when I got in from work!)

I think that the Lemon Meringue Cake would work well with other flavours, such as lime and ginger or coconut. I might test this out in the coming weeks, so watch this space!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam! xx

Amazing Cakes #24: Lemon Madeira Loaf

This post was written at the beginning of May believe it or not! It’s now the beginning of August and the first time I’ve logged onto WordPress in three months. That’s another story which I’ll explain in my next post. I just looked in my drafts and found it there. I cant understand why it was never published. Maybe I wasn’t concentrating. So here is the post as written on May 6th!

I looked at my original SmartCookieSam blog and realised I hadn’t added anything to it for ages! So I thought I’d better bake something from the Amazing Cakes book which fitted in around what we had in the cupboards and the fridge. I had three lemons nearly past their best so anything with lemons in was a winner! The original recipe also used orange zest but I didn’t have any. I had to keep to lemons only!

Madeira Cake is not from the island of Madeira but called so because it is a cake which was traditionally an accompaniment to Madeira wine. I must admit I’ve always wanted to go to Madeira, though as it looks such a beautiful place from photos. I can’t say I’ve tasted Madeira wine either! It’s been a while since I’ve baked a Madeira and I usually like to make them as a base for celebration cakes.

The Madeira loaf cake was simple to bake: butter, caster sugar, eggs and self raising flour with zest of lemon grated into the mixture. I then put it in a loaf tin liner and baked inside a loaf tin for just 55 minutes.

Once the cake had baked and cooled on the worktop, I made up some lemon glace icing and drizzled on the top of the cake.

To finish off the cake, it was meant to be topped with homemade candied citrus peel. I didn’t have time to make my own, so I cheated and used the last of a tub of jelly lemon slices I had in my cupboard. They have been a real favourite buy from Lakeland.

And ta-dah! Here are some pics of the finished cake!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx