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 #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

Carrot Cake: Amazing Cakes #19


Hi everyone! I’ve realised I’ve not been on my blog and updated it for well over two months!  Happy New Year to you all for a start! Not only that but it hasn’t been a great start to 2021 has it? The pandemic and the latest lockdown aside, I always find January and February really difficult.  I know I’m not alone in struggling with SAD and the depressing, miserable rainy weather we have but this year it has been doubly hard.  There has been another reason for the lack of blogging: I am currently setting up a little business selling cookies and other treats online! So watch this space!  This is something I have wanted to do for years but I never had the time due to work commitments in the day job.  Leading up to Christmas I was working long 10 hour shifts in a day nursery with a 40 minute commute each way. I had no time for my family and I was relying on Mr S to cook dinner. It got to Christmas and when I realised that I had the first night’s decent sleep in ages, I realised something had to give.  So for now I am supply teaching in local primary schools part time and hopefully trying to achieve part of my dream of baking for a living. I feel like a different person!

Looking back in the drafts on the blog I found I had a post for Carrot Cake.  It was a shock to look back and realise I’d actually baked this cake on 30th November.  This Carrot Cake was another recipe from The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes and do you know I can’t even remember why I baked it. I think it ended up at work for the other staff to eat to keep them going! I don’t remember eating any of it. But I do remember it not lasting long.

This carrot cake recipe contains sultanas but I guess you could swap them for nuts, such as pecans or walnuts if you aren’t keen on dried fruit.  I left the sultanas in as I don’t like taking products with nuts into work for fear of allergies even though no one had a nut allergy at the time. Other flavour in the carrot cake was created with the zest of an orange and also with ground mixed spice.

The frosting is a traditional cream cheese frosting flavoured with orange and vanilla paste.  I “cheated” by buying the carrot decorations in my local supermarket as I didn’t want to go out and buy sugarpaste and colour it myself for just these decorations. The original recipe illustration in the Amazing Cakes book had three real, tiny carrots poking out of the cake and with added cocoa powder and chopped hazelnuts to look like soil on the top of the cake.  I didn’t want this effect as it would mean having to go out and buy some hazelnuts just for two tablespoonfuls. It looked like an effective decoration idea, but not for me this time!





Happy Baking!
Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #17: Traditional Fruit Cake

I was far too disorganised to bake my Christmas Cake early, let alone on Stir Up Sunday! I got as far as buying and mixing the dried fruit up and soaking it in some port on that day. I did manage my Christmas pudding as that steamed away in my slow cooker while I did other things. I was even thinking of not making a Christmas cake at all this year. Things as you know are very different this year and it will just be my own household for Christmas: Mr S, myself and our two grown up children. Neither of my children like Christmas cake. Mr S and I like it but by the time we get round to eating it in the New Year I am always on my usual New Year Diet!

Last year’s Christmas Cake leftovers are still in the same tin I put them in back in January. We had one slice each I think on New Year’s Day after I had cut some off for my mum to have. I think I love making the Christmas Cake just to decorate it to be honest! Last year’s cake was decorated with Christmas roses and holly leaves but I just do not have the time this year. Mr S suggested buying a small cake from M&S. I was outraged! Telling a cake baker to buy a cake is not what you do and although I love M&S food and their cakes are lovely, there’s nothing like homemade.

In the end I decided on a compromise. I would like something like a Christmas cake but with smaller bitesize portions and less marzipan and icing. So I found a recipe in the Amazing Cakes book which would do just that. There is a recipe for a traditional fruit cake but there are adaptations to and ingredient quantities for baking the cake in various size tins. I was pleased to see one option was for a shallow traybake cake. This meant I could cut the cake into tiny amounts and only be able to ice the top as well.

Finally, my cake was baked last Monday morning when I had a day off work. I was at home catching up and so glad I could finally put all that dried fruit soaking into a cake instead of seeing it in a bowl covered in a clean tea towel on the worktop.

Now you may be wondering why I had soaked my dried fruit in port when usually it is traditional to soak it in brandy. Well that’s because I forgot to get some brandy and we had a bottle of port left over from Christmas last year. We ended up with two bottles of it given to us and it’s not something we really drink much of except at Christmas. I have a port with my Christmas pudding or with cheese and that’s about it! So the dried fruit was soaked in some port and it did smell lovely. I will feed the cake once a week until I get round to icing it nearer Christmas.

To start the cake itself I had to melt butter and dark brown sugar in a pan on the hob. The recipe asked for molasses sugar but I couldn’t find any so used dark brown muscovado sugar instead. Once this had melted I took it off the heat.

I then weighed out some plain flour and various spices, such as ginger, cinnamon and ground mixed spice. The mixed spice was in place of ground cloves and nutmeg as I wanted to use what I had in the cupboard. Then I added beaten eggs and the whole mixture was carefully folded in before spooning carefully into my prepared traybake tin.

As it was a traybake tin, the cake’s cooking time was a lot shorter had it been in a different and deeper tin. It only needed roughly about an hour but I checked with a skewer.

The cake doesn’t look all that attractive and looks very bumpy but I am sure it will look much better once it is decorated! I will update the post as soon as that’s done nearer Christmas.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Amazing Cakes #14: Almond Poppy Seed Bundt

This recipe has been a great favourite bake from Amazing Cakes From  The Great British Bake Off.  It was created by last year’s winner David Atherton.  According to the recipe introduction it was his “favourite recipe from when he was growing up- he’s always been obsessed with the flavour of almonds.”

I love almond recipes as well but have never put poppy seeds in a cake with them before. I usually put poppy seeds in bread or a lemon cake. I must admit I had to buy in some poppy seeds to bake the recipe but I had some almond extract in. I love almond extract, the aroma of it is just heavenly.

Looking back at the photos, I actually baked this cake at the end of October and it ended up being one that was taken into work to share with my work mates.  I can’t even remember what day of the week it was baked on as it was such a busy, full on time and I had just gone back to work after having to self isolate for two weeks.

Baking this cake also was a fantastic excuse to get out one of my Nordicware Bundt pans! I chose to use my Elegant Party Bundt Pan which is just perfect for this recipe with the drip icing and the grooves.  Although I didn’t have any toasted flaked almonds to top the cake, I used whole cherries which turned it into more of a Bakewell recipe.

To begin with, the poppy seeds were infused in a pan of milk which came up to the boil and then simmered for a few minutes. I took the pan off the heat and then got the rest of the cake batter sorted out.  The fat content is oil based, rather than butter or margarine and David uses olive oil in his. I thought the olive oil I had in my cupboard would be too strong for this recipe so I used sunflower oil instead. 

In one bowl I whisked eggs and caster sugar together for about 4 minutes until the mixture became creamy and thick.  To this, I then added in the oil and some almond extract. I whisked this carefully so it was well mixed in.  The dry ingredients were weighed out in a separate bowl.  Plain flour, baking powder and ground almonds were then added and carefully folded in. 

Finally, the milk and poppy seed infusion was folded into the batter.  I loved the look of the batter: the pale colour with the contrasting dark poppy seeds throughout the whole mixture looked really pretty. 

Into the prepared bundt pan it went.  I was hoping I wouldn’t have a bundt pan failure like I did last time but I took extra care to grease it.  The cake takes less time to bake than a usual bundt recipe. Usually any bundt I have baked has taken about an hour or so but the required cooking time for this recipe was 30-35 minutes. I checked the cake at 25 minutes and it definitely needed the extra ten minutes.

To see the cake slide out of the pan as a whole without snapping in two or having half of it welded to the pan was a huge relief.  It smelled wonderful as well.  I just love the smell of almonds and my kitchen was full of this delicious aroma.



As the cake was cooling, I decided what I would do with the icing.  When icing sugar was in very short supply in the supermarkets earlier on this year, I put in a massive order to Sugar and Crumbs for some of their flavoured icing sugars. I’ve always loved their icing sugars.  I hadn’t got any plain icing sugar which I could flavour with almond extract so I had to use one of my Sugar and Crumbs flavours.  I had a packet of their Cherry Bakewell icing sugar in my cupboard so I used some of that being as that was almond based. To top the cake I used glace cherries as I didn’t have any flaked almonds in.

The cake went to work to share with my work colleagues.  I didn’t taste any but judging by the way the cake disappeared over the next day it must have tasted fine.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx


Amazing Cakes #13: Swiss Roll

I’ve been so behind with my blog posts recently. One day I’d like to have the time to write up about what I’ve made on the day it was actually made. Since we went into the second lockdown (though I can’t really call it that as I don’t think anything has closed where I live, except the pub and local cafes!) I’ve been working virtually full time and haven’t had much time for baking over the last couple of weeks. On the day after Boris’ announcement, it was business as usual for us at home. Loads of jobs to catch up on and a nice Sunday roast to cook, followed by some sort of dessert or cake for pudding.

I was looking through my Amazing Cakes From The Great British Bake Off book and was thinking what would make a great pudding. I thought about a Swiss Roll as I can’t believe I’ve never made one before. They look so fiddly and awkward to handle that I’ve thought I can’t be bothered with all that effort.

This recipe for a Swiss Roll is a quick bake and is made in just ten minutes. As a whisked and fatless sponge it doesn’t last long but then again anything with cream inside never lasts long in our house!

I didn’t have a special Swiss Roll tin for the bake but I used a shallow baking tray which usually ends up being my roast potato baking tray as it was the same size. I lined it carefully with some baking paper. You need quite a bit of baking paper for this bake as you need an extra piece to help you roll up the Swiss Roll when it has baked.

I got started on the sponge part just before lunchtime on the Sunday after I had waded through a huge pile of ironing. A baking session with music playing in the background is always my spur to get the chores done. To begin with, I whisked eggs and sugar together until the mixture was thick and like a mousse. It took a while to get the ribbon trail hanging down from the whisk!

I used the spare sheet of baking paper to sift the flour and salt on it. I then took half of the flour off it and folded it into the whisked egg mixture with a large metal spoon. Then I added the other half of the flour and did the same.

The mixture was then poured into the prepared tin. I had pre-heated my oven to 200oC fan which seemed very high but that was what the recipe stated. I was meant to put the sponge in for 9-10 minutes but after 8 minutes it looked burnt and was coming away from the sides of the tin. I hope it wasn’t because the oven was too hot!

Feeling disappointed and deflated, I sprinkled caster sugar onto the spare baking sheet and then turned the sponge onto it. Hoping the caster sugar would cover up the mistakes and any cracks, I was careful to roll it up until it was completely cool.

I was thinking about what filling to put in the Swiss Roll and thought ooh great I’ve got some lemon curd! I didn’t realise that there wasn’t enough to spread on even half of the roll. Same with some blackberry jam. In the end it became a hybrid lemon-blackberry combo with far more whipped cream than jam.

I know when I bake sometimes things do look like the pictures in the recipe book but the same can’t be said of this recipe! I couldn’t see any jam when I rolled up the Swiss Roll. All I could see was the cream and it didn’t look that pretty. This was a true case of it tastes better than it looks!

The Swiss Roll was ready before I had even started on the roast chicken dinner we were planning on eating. I felt hungry and ended up cutting off a piece to eat. It tasted lovely and definitely not burnt!

Next time I make a Swiss Roll I’ll check if the oven temperature really should be 200oC even for a fan oven or maybe I’ll reduce the baking time. It was true that the cake should have been eaten on the day it was made, we had all had a piece but the following day it tasted stale.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Chocolate Drip Cake: Amazing Cakes #12

It was my daughter’s birthday back in October. It had been a strange couple of weeks for us and her birthday coincided with her last day of self isolation. I had originally planned her cake for her weeks ago and had bought ingredients and the decorations well in advance. Had I known, I wouldn’t have baked such an extravagant and massive cake!

I’ve seen lots of these fancy drip cakes around and although I bake lots of cakes it has been a while since I have made any celebration cakes. Making a drip cake is something I’d always wanted to have a go at but never had chance to do. So even though my daughter said “Don’t make me a massive cake, Mum!”, what did her mother do? Make a massive cake!

I looked at the recipe for the Chocolate Drip Cake in the Great British Bake Off book Amazing Cakes to help me for quantities, etc and I adapted it to suit the ingredients I had at home at the time. The original recipe has two layers each of chocolate sponge and also of a brown butter sponge! As the brown butter sponge used a whole packet of butter which I didn’t have enough of, I chose to make this one as a Vanilla sponge but bake both sponges using Stork instead. I had a whole tub of Stork which needed using up and only enough butter for the buttercream. Also I chose to adapt the decorations. My friend Amy had bought me a tub of Cake Decor Chocolate Mirror Glaze icing in a tub which I had not used before and I thought it would be perfect on the top of the cake for the drip. Instead of homemade chocolate shards, I used Lindt Dor Salted Caramel Truffles and some honeycomb pieces. For the buttercream icing, I had to use a mixture of plain Tate and Lyle Icing Sugar with a packet of Sugar and Crumbs’ Honeycomb flavour icing sugar as I didn’t have enough plain for all the buttercream. So the chocolate cake ended up being a chocolate, salted caramel and honeycomb flavour cake!

On Sunday morning, the morning of my daughter’s actual birthday I baked the sponges and made up the buttercream. This did not take long. It wasn’t until later when I had to assemble the cake that the panic started. I see so many perfect cakes on the internet where the buttercream is so smooth. I can never get mine like that. You can also bet your bottom dollar that the moment you start piping or something is the exact moment when Mr S comes in the kitchen and wants to get something out of that very cupboard right where you are working! This time he came in asking for a cup of tea! (fit eyeroll emoji in here!)

It was as I was assembling the cake that I realised how big it actually was and why I needed 500g butter and 1kg of icing sugar in the buttercream. It also contains 200g dark chocolate and double cream which was made into a ganache and then whipped into the butter and icing sugar. Assembling the cake was fine and I put it on my larger Cath Kidston cake stand. Once it was assembled, I gave the cake a crumb coat and put it to chill in the fridge for an hour. While it was chilling I made the cup of tea and tried to clean up as best as I could.

Another coat of buttercream went on and then I spent ages smoothing it with my cake smoother before melting the pot of chocolate glaze gently in the microwave. I have seen people use plastic bottles with nozzles on for piping on the chocolate drip but I chose to use a piping bag to help me. The chocolate glaze was slightly too thick really and some of the drips didn’t look as neat as others. Once the chocolate was on then I put on the Lindt balls and sprinkled the honeycomb pieces in the middle. The finishing touch was some gold Happy Birthday lettering.

I was very pleased and proud of the cake and my daughter loved it which was the main thing. Since she has gone back to work she has taken it to share with her work mates and they enjoyed it too.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Parkin: Amazing Cakes #11

It’s that time of year again as Autumn draws upon us that I begin to think about recipes I love baking when it gets colder. One recipe I love making at this time of year is Parkin.

If you don’t know what Parkin is or you have never tasted it, then you are missing out! Parkin is a gingerbread and oaty cake very popular in the north of England. It’s one of those traditional Yorkshire baking recipes your granny or mum may have grown up on and families will have their own special recipe. My own grandma, my Nana Margaret who was from West Yorkshire was not a good cook and definitely not a baker! Any cake or sweet treat she had would be bought from a local bakery or M&S and she would try to pass it off as her own! So, I never had a grandma favourite recipe for Parkin. My other grandma on the other hand, Nana Mary was a fantastic cook and baker although she did not come from Yorkshire. She made gorgeous lemon drizzle cakes.

I first tasted Parkin when I moved to Yorkshire myself as a recently qualified teacher in the 1990s and I taught a Reception class. On a Friday afternoon all the classes in Key Stage One used to have an Activity Afternoon and I chose to do baking as my activity. In groups of 6 we would bake or make different things and I would try and link our recipe to that time of the year or a particular festival being celebrated at that time. For one week we made Parkin. At the time I had never attempted to make it myself before and as I was single at the time, I didn’t even have baking ingredients in my house! How things change! I now get all panicky when I run out of eggs! I even had to ask the other teachers if they had a Parkin recipe as this was in the days before good old Google!

Despite having never made Parkin before and neither had any of the children I taught, we had a fantastic baking session and we had some gorgeous Parkin to take home. How I wish I could bake with children like that again, now there’s no time at all on the curriculum and that was even before the Covid pandemic started.

As I type it is my last full day of self isolation myself and over the past week or so I have been baking more than I should. Usually anything I bake goes to work to share out but this last week I have had to hide everything or keep myself out of the kitchen! I couldn’t resist baking some Parkin though.

The Parkin recipe I use is from the very first Great British Bake Off Book “The Great British Book Of Baking” which accompanied the very first series way back in 2010! Parkin is meant to be kept for a week wrapped up in foil for a week to improve the flavours but I never can wait that long! There is something about the aroma of gingerbread baking that sends your senses going. I chose this time to follow the recipe in the 2019 Bake Off book “Amazing Cakes” which was really great to follow.

First, I greased and lined my square baking tin and put the oven on to heat up. While it was heating up I beat one egg with some milk in a jug.

In a saucepan I put butter, treacle, golden syrup and sugar and melted it altogether over a very low heat.

Once the butter mixture was removed from the heat, the mixture was poured into a large mixing bowl. To this I weighed out rolled oats, self raising flour, ground ginger and some mixed spice. This was then folded into the melted butter mixture with a large metal spoon until well combined.

The mixture was then put into the tin and baked for about 55 minutes in my fan oven at 140oC.

When it was finished, I left the Parkin in the tin until it was completely cold and then cut it into squares. I then wrapped them in foil and put in a tin planning to keep it there for a week. I didn’t! The following day I felt I needed something to eat and grabbed myself a piece. Oh my it was like heaven!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx