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 #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 #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

Amazing Cakes #5: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I’ve always loved Pineapple Upside Down Cake. It was a great favourite when I was a child. I hadn’t baked one for a while and had yet to find a recipe I liked and was really happy with. Until now. It was quite by chance that I spotted there was a recipe in the book I’m attempting to bake through at the moment: Amazing Cakes from The Great British Bake Off. Coupled with the Technical Bake from week one in this year’s Bake Off, I was even more keen to have a go!

The caramelised pineapple layer is made so by using golden syrup in the bottom of the cake tin. This gives the gloriously sticky but delicious topping when inverted out of the tin. Other bakes have used brown sugar and butter to create a type of caramel. I really thought the syrup was a great idea and much less of a faff!

I used a 23cm diameter spring form cake tin which is usually my cheesecake tin! I lined and greased it then poured golden syrup on the bottom of the tin. When this was done I arranged the pineapple rings to fit in the base of the tin. Some rings had to be cut to fit in the gaps as well as leaving the circles to adorn with glace cherries. I do think it makes a pretty cake and the pineapple rings remind me of flowers with their red cherry centres.

The cake part was made by creaming together butter and sugar. When the butter and sugar had been creamed for a few minutes, I added in eggs slowly, followed by sifted self raising flour and some baking powder. The batter was very stiff so it needed liquid. To this we needed some milk and vanilla extract. When I looked in my cupboard I realised I didn’t have any vanilla extract left! I needed something to add to it so in the end I used some Monin Coconut sugar syrup which was from a cocktail set I got at Christmas. It’s useful having this set as the syrups are great substitutes for flavour extracts.

Bearing in mind that last Sunday, when I baked the Pineapple Upside Down Cake was a very stressful day, I was actually calmed down by baking. A task on the computer which should have taken half an hour on Sunday morning ended up taking me 5 hours. I was so stressed and wound up. Then the task didn’t work and I had to do it all again on Monday night. But that’s another story. By the time the cake was in the oven it was Sunday dinner time and we were having a sausagemeat puff pastry plait. That was in the oven while I was preparing the cake. The cake had to be in the oven while we were eating.

After the stresses of Sunday afternoon, I was hoping and praying that the cake wouldn’t be a disaster. It was fine! We didn’t eat any for dessert as it was still too hot to eat and too late. So I cut ourselves three slices and saved the rest to take to work for my workmates. I had a piece on Monday night when I got in from work. I am meant to be cutting down on sugar, but I was so tired I needed the energy. It hit the spot!

My slice on Monday night. It goes really well with custard, cream or ice cream. I ate mine plain though!

Did any of you try Paul Hollywood’s version of the individual Pineapple Upside Down Cakes? I thought they looked wonderful as an individual dessert with the whipped cream piped on it. I also thought about using my Nordicware Pineapple Upside Down Bundt pan but it does come out really big. I thought we’d be eating the cake for weeks afterwards!

If you would like to try Paul Hollywood’s version, here is the link to it:

https://thegreatbritishbakeoff.co.uk/recipes/all/paul-hollywood-pineapple-upside-down-cakes/

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

A New Challenge!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about my SmartCookieSam blog. Recently I’ve been so sporadic in uploading posts and when I do, I struggle to fit in blogging as well as everything else going on in these crazy times. Part of me has even thought about packing in this blog. I don’t have much time for baking at the moment. Every time I bake something it seems to go wrong. I just sit looking at other people’s perfect creations on social media and feel so fed up/ I guess I’ve lost my baking mojo. This is sad as I always used to love baking as a form of relaxation and therapy. But now it makes me feel anxious as I can’t get it right. I don’t want to give up baking but at the same time I am really struggling with my weight since going through the menopause. I even thought about changing my blog to healthy recipes but I still think baking is a huge part of who I am. I guess I just need something to motivate me and to be given a bit of encouragement.

I love the idea of baking through a book and thought of this as an idea to base my blog on going forward. I have lots of books I would love to do this with but it has to have recipes that I actually have time to bake. It also had to contain recipes that I can share with family and friends and not containing obscure ingredients which would be offputting.

So which book would I go for to start my challenge? I know that the Mary Berry Baking Bible has been done by a few people! I would have loved to have done this myself but I didn’t want to be seen as copying! I thought about the lady who fanned my obsession with baking back in the early noughties, the one and only Nigella herself with her Domestic Goddess book. But after lots of thought, I was thinking about all the Great British Bake Off books I had, including ones from former contestants and winners and decided on the latest one to come from last year’s series. “The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes” which came out at the beginning of last October.

Although I bought the book when it came out, I’m shocked I haven’t tried any of the recipes in the book. They range from a mixture of classic and modern, from easy to more challenging and contain recipes from previous series as well as offerings from the last series’ contestants. I feel this might help me get my teeth back into something after all the upheaval we have had over the previous months.

I’m not sure how long it will take me to bake the seventy plus recipes in “The Big Book Of Amazing Cakes” but I reckon I can manage a couple a week if time allows. I can fit some in around various times of the year, such as Parkin at Hallowe’en or on Bonfire Night or to be attached to various occasions such as a birthday. Lets see how I get on! Whether I get the blog updated as well is another job entirely!

Watch this space!

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx

Half Term Baking

It feels like an eternity since I last updated my blog. I was working in a long term and full time post last half term. Baking, let alone any blogging was the last thing on my mind.

The last few weeks have been extremely stressful. Even though baking helps me to relax and unwind, I didn’t have the time and the energy to lift a wooden spoon. As soon as my work was finished for the night, it was bedtime and the cycle would start again at 6.00am the next morning.

Although half term week was last week up here in Yorkshire, it’s taken me that long to get my head back to writing up my latest post. But I was so happy, esctatic even to be back in my favourite place doing what I love. So I am sharing with you what I have baked this last week.

At Christmas I was given a copy of Jamie Oliver’s latest book “5 Ingredients” which I really love. As there are only 5 ingredients in each recipe, a lot of the recipes are simple to make and quick to throw together after a busy day. Although poor Mr SmartCookieSam ended up cooking our dinner most nights last half term! As usual, whenever I get a new recipe book I’m always looking at the sweet stuff at the back of the book.

On the Monday of half term week I went over to Leeds to meet up with my cake club friends at one of our friends’ houses. Linda cooked us a delicious Spanish Chicken Traybake (from the Hairy Dieters first book) and we had some sweet treats afterwards. This was a real tonic to catch up with my friends as I hadn’t seen anyone for a couple of months. My contribution was a Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake (more of that to follow) and some St Clements Polenta Biscuits from Jamie’s 5 Ingredients.

The St Clements Polenta Biscuits could have been used with lemons or oranges but I used just lemons in my recipe. The five ingredients were: butter, fine polenta, self raising flour, caster sugar and lemons or oranges. The biscuit dough could be made up in my food processor, so it was really quick to put together. When the dough had formed into a large ball, I split the dough into 24 equal pieces and laid them onto a lined baking tray. The biscuits spread a lot during the baking so I needed to space them well apart on the tray. I usually put 6 biscuits per tray. These were baked for about 10 minutes in the oven, but my oven temperature is a bit out at the moment so I was watching them like a hawk.

I was very pleased with the biscuits and they went down well. My only problem was not to eat them before I met my friends! It’s the first time I’ve used polenta in a biscuit recipe. I’ve baked polenta in savoury recipes and also in a cake. The latter was a complete disaster and the cake fell apart. Cake balls, anyone?!

The other bake I took along to my friend’s house was a Chocolate Orange Bundt Cake. Anyone who knows me well will know that I collect Nordicware Bundt pans. Much to the annoyance of Mr SmartCookieSam who complains about them taking up space in the garage! I chose to use my Elegant Heart pan to make my cake in, being as it was two days before Valentine’s Day. I had a packet of mini Chocolate Orange Lindt D’Or balls in my baking cupboard which I could use to decorate the top. I’m still confused. How were they still there in the cupboard? I’m surprised they hadn’t been scoffed.

I adapted the Tunnel of Fudge Bundt recipe from one of my Nordicware cookbooks and used one of my favourite products in the mix. I’m a huge fan of Sugar and Crumbs’ Natural Flavoured Icing Sugars and Cocoa powders. I used the chocolate orange cocoa powder in the cake itself and in the glaze on top.

The third bake of the week was on the Thursday of half term week. I was at home on my own that day just catching up on jobs around the house and by the afternoon I was fed up of doing boring chores. The kitchen beckoned again so I had a go at making another recipe from Jamie’s “5 Ingredients” This time I baked “Buddy’s Flapjack Biscuits” Jamie must have made the recipe for his son, Buddy. The five ingredients in this recipe were: butter, mixed dried fruit and nuts, porridge oats, self raising flour and golden syrup. Basically a flapjack style recipe without sugar in it, only syrup and more sweetness derived from dried fruit. I chose to substitute the dried fruit for a packet of Vahine choco-caramel chips which I had in the baking cupboard. They had been brought back from France last August and I hadn’t got round to using them. They melted into the mixture, though and turned it darker. I was hoping they might stay solid, rather like chocolate chips do in a cookie. Once again, this recipe was simplicity itself pulsed together in my food processor.

I also treated myself to Mary Berry’s latest book “Classic” and used her recipe for flapjacks which definitely are a classic to me. If I could only ever eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would easily be a flapjack. Though it has to be said, both my son and Mr SmartCookieSam ate these.

Finally, I had a very special cake to bake at the end of half term week. My friend was celebrating her 60th birthday so her husband asked me if I could bake her a cake. Marion and I met a couple of years ago before our favourite band of all time Wet Wet Wet were playing in Scarborough at the Open Air Theatre. Her husband was bringing her away for the weekend at Nidd Hall near Knaresborough in North Yorkshire and they asked Mr SmartCookieSam and I to come over to Nidd Hall for drinks and afternoon tea. I baked Marion’s special cake the day before and had great fun decorating it with a fanastic cake topper from mycupcaketoppers.co.uk. I used the image from Wet Wet Wet’s very first album cover Popped In Souled Out and added stars, hearts and sugar coated crispy balls around the edge. The cake itself was a Madeira sponge which I cut in half horizontally (not straight as you can tell from the photos), and layered with strawberry jam and buttercream. I then crumb coated the cake with buttercream, left it to dry and then added the sugarpaste layer. I hate covering cakes with sugarpaste and even though I’ve been decorating cakes for years, I still get anxious and nervous about the sugarpaste breaking and falling off the rolling pin. But thankfully today, it all worked out fine.

As I type, it’s now the following Thursday morning and I’m not at work today. I’m wondering what I can bake. I daren’t bake anything as I know I’ll eat it though. Maybe I’ll have to keep out of the kitchen and do my knitting instead once I’ve done all my chores.

Happy Baking!

Love Sam xx