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

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

Amazing Cakes #25: Coconut Sugar Fruit Cake

I’ve been trying out recipes from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes recently. The book has a chapter brimming full of Free-From recipes which is really useful. So far I’ve made the Gluten Free Brownies, the Vegan Marble Bundt Cake and the Vegan Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake. To fit in with dietary requirements, lifestyles and allergy needs, it’s fantastic to have a collection of recipes to fall back on.

One of the recipes was a Coconut Sugar Fruit Loaf Cake. Although the recipe contains natural sugars in the form of dried fruit, it does not contain refined sugar. Coconut sugar is palm sugar produced from the sap of the flower bud stem of the coconut palm. I have used coconut sugar before, in a vegan cake and it is definitely more expensive to buy than your average refined sugar. It’s roughly about twice as much as the same weight of soft brown sugar. I bought The Groovy Food Company’s Coconut Sugar to bake this recipe.

To start making the cake, I soaked mixed dried fruit in some hot tea the night before. I left the bowl covered in cling film overnight.

The following day when I got in from work in my day job, I started on the cookie and brownie order I had for that afternoon. When they were finished, I kept the oven on and started to make the fruit loaf.

I put self raising flour, the coconut sugar, some ground ginger and mixed spice into my mixing bowl and stirred it before adding in two beaten eggs, I then added it into the dried fruit and tea mixture.

I then spooned the mixture into my loaf tin. I use ready made loaf tin liners as I’m dead lazy and any shortcuts you can have are a massive help. I’ve bought some more recently from Tesco and they’re a godsend.

The cake baked in the oven at 160oC (fan) for about 55 minutes. I tested it and it was still a bit sticky right in the middle, so I gave it another 10 minutes. This did the trick. When it came out of the oven I left it to cool in the tin for about 15 minutes.

Usually when I have fruit loaf, I spread it with a bit of butter and serve it the Yorkshire way with a slice of Wensleydale cheese. I was so hungry, I ate a slice straightaway without either. The result was a moist and delicious cake but without feeling overly sweet.

Would I bake it again? Yes I would although the coconut sugar does make it a rather expensive bake. You can only get two loaves out of one bag of sugar.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #23: Vegan Lemon Drizzle Loaf

It’s been a busy week here, not had much chance for actual baking as I’m getting my website ready for my online cookie business! All will be revealed by next week. I’m waiting for some new packaging to arrive so I can send out cookie samples to my taste testers. I’m also rethinking a couple of recipes so that they will leave my kitchen looking perfect.

I’m also a supply teacher working in primary schools in my area and work has been a bit quieter this week what with home learning for some and the pandemic issues. I have been grateful for this week being a bit quieter though as it has given me time to focus on jobs at home, my new business and to have some wintry walks out with my dog. On Wednesday afternoon, though I was wanting to bake something other than cookies. This is where my Big Book Of Amazing Cakes Challenge has been enjoyable and it’s nice to bake something different.

Looking through the book I wanted to make something quick, easy and that needed to use up ingredients I had at home. It was a toss up between the Pecan and Banana Loaf to use up very ripe bananas or the Vegan Lemon Drizzle Loaf. My daughter came downstairs to put the kettle on between her online uni lectures and said “Urgh no, not banana cake with nuts in!”, although it wouldn’t have had pecans in anyway. I didn’t have any in, only walnuts! She was really keen on the idea of the lemon cake as she loves lemon drizzle and although she is not fully vegan, she does have lactose intolerance.

So, the Vegan Lemon Drizzle it was! I have never made a Vegan Lemon cake before and oh my it was so worth it. It was different to some of the loaf cakes I have made before in that it came out with a flat top and not a curved one. To substitute butter and eggs, the replacements are with soya milk, apple cider vinegar and non-dairy spread. We use oat milk in our house so I hoped that would work as well. It did in the other vegan cake I baked recently, the Vegan Marble Bundt Cake. I nicked some of my daughter’s non-dairy spread and we were ready! This recipe is versatile because not only did it give quantities for the small loaf I baked but also for other size bakes including a square tin and a traybake size.

To start with I measured out the oat milk into a jug and mixed in a tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar. This had to be left for a few minutes to curdle. It looked and smelled horribly sour!

In the meantime I creamed together some caster sugar ,the non dairy spread and the zest of a large lemon. I then added a spoonful of vanilla extract to it. Then the smelly oat milk mixture was added to the creamed mixture. This looked horrible and I was worried about the curdling effect. But as soon as I added self raising flour, baking powder and ground almonds to the mixture, this sorted the problem out. I kept the rest of the lemon aside as this was going to be used in the drizzle and the icing.

The loaf cake baked in the oven at about 160oC for just under an hour and came out after I poked a skewer in it. It came out clean so the cake came out and was put on a wire rack still in its tin to cool down. After a few minutes I made up a quick lemon sugar syrup which was poked into the cake with a cocktail stick. Usually when I make lemon drizzle cake that’s all I put on top of the cake and there’s more of it so it crystallises on the top. This was the case with the first recipe from my challenge the Lemon Drizzle Traybake. Instead, this recipe also has a fondant icing on top.

Later on, I mixed up some icing sugar and lemon juice and spread it carefully on top of the cake. As shown in the recipe picture it was designed to drip down the side and not to look perfect. If you wanted you could add some edible flowers and decorations. I had some jelly lemon slices but I’m not sure if they are vegan or not. I bought them from Lakeland in a little pot and it didn’t say not suitable for vegans on the ingredients.

My daughter and I couldn’t wait to have a piece and the icing was still runny when we cut the cake. But it was delicious and I can definitely recommend the recipe. Another one on my getting increasingly longer shortlist to bake again!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #22: Angel Cake Slices

As I mentioned before in my previous Cherry Cakes post, there are a couple of recipes I’ve already baked which I can tick off my Amazing Cakes recipe book challenge.

Angel Cake as from a British point of view is the traditional cake you buy in slabs which contains a triple layer of sponge in three different flavours. Not to be mixed up with another type of Angel Cake which is a light, pale cake baked with egg whites and made in a special ring like tin. This version was the former: using three genoise sponges and cut into dainty slices. It was a technical bake in the 2019 Great British Bake Off series from one of Prue Leith’s recipes. I must admit at that time I’d never baked a genoise sponge before and I couldn’t be one hundred percent sure what one tasted like. All I know is that the sponges came out flat and looked like rubber! In the end I decided to adapt the recipe and created three layers of a traditional creamed sponge, colourung and flavouring them accordingly with lemon and raspberry extract and gel colouring.

This worked out much better and I was much happier with the result! At the time I made the Angel Cake, I didn’t write a blog post as I was busy at work. The remains of the cake ended up being taken to work to share with my work colleagues. It was baked in three circular 20cm/ 8″ tins instead of a giant traybake tin split into three.

Looking back at the pictures on my phone, I must have deleted or not taken photos of the cake disaster but kept the ones of the new cake. I also entered it in #TwitterBakeAlong for that week, hence the handwritten note. Looking back at the cake from the outside you can’t really tell it’s a three coloured Angel Cake. But when you cut into the cake, it’s a different story altogether.

I must try and have a go at a génoise sponge again. I mastered one on my Patisserie Course evening class I did at college before the pandemic started and I feel confident to have another try.

Happy Baking!

Love Samxx

Amazing Cakes #21: Cherry Cake

I’m trying my hardest to do a baking challenge: baking all the recipes in the Great British Bake Off book “The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes”, which was published to tie in with 2019’s series. What I hadn’t realised was that because some of the recipes had come from previous series, I’d actually baked a couple of the cakes before.

This is what happened with the Cherry Cake from the Classic Cakes chapter. It originally was a Technical Bake from the 2014 series and one of Mary Berry’s recipes. The original post about this bake is here:

Mary Berry’s Cherry Cake- Great British Bake Off Technical Challenge.

I love glace cherries especially when they go together with ground almonds to give that “Bakewell” flavour and it was even better to bake the cake in one of my Nordicware bundt pans. I used my Elegant Heart for the recipe and also another time exactly five years ago when I was at a Clandestine Cake Club event at the beautiful Carleton Towers near Selby. Today, as I type its a Sunday afternoon and I could just do with baking the cherry sponge again. But we used the last of our eggs up this morning on our cooked breakfast. I’m not going out just to get eggs as it’s food shopping day tomorrow.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx