Friday, 1 May 2015

Vanilla Fondant Fancies (Wheat Free; Dairy Substitute)

Happy Friday all!! As of today, I'm up to 185 likers on my Facebook page, and thank you to each and every one of those people who follow my blog and try my recipes. And as I promised, here's a nice weekend baking project for you: Fondant Fancies!

When you buy the branded fondant fancies in the shops, from a baker who makes exceedingly good cakes, they are little fluffsome squares of sugar overload. Their daintiness is their appeal, not necessarily the quality of how complex they are flavour-wise: they do exactly what they set out to do, and that is provide you with a nice sugar hit.

They sound like a simple confection. However, the skill of making 'fondant fancies', also known as petits fours glacés in their native land of France, has eluded me; glazing is a difficult art form, as is getting the right level of fluffiness in the sponge cake itself. So, I decided to experiment with my usual go-to cake recipe, as I did a few weeks ago when I found that it could be done just as nicely with a one-bowl method.

I have found from my new method of making cheesecakes, where I separate the eggs and beat the whites, produces cheesecakes that are still deliciously rich, but not so heavy, being a little bit more light with the inclusion of whipped egg whites. I applied the same thinking to this recipe, and it yielded fantastic results! I think the sponge for this batch of fancies was one of the finest cakes I have ever made.

It's probably hard to tell from the above picture, but the texture was super light and fluffy, and the crumb was delicate. However, it wasn't so light that it was a nightmare to cut, which can sometimes happen with these super-whipped sponges. I always add a little oil to super-whipped sponges anyway because it sort of helps keep them moist and keeps them a little more flexible and less brittle.

 Once I had cooked the cake, I split and filled it with some simple vanilla buttercream (in the true spirit of focusing solely on the sugary sweetness of the confection) and then cut the whole cake into small square cakes, trimming the crusty edges off the cake. Traditionally, these are glazed with a boiled sugar fondant, but that is unnecessarily complex for a home baking scenario; these are glazed with a simple glacé icing, made with icing sugar, water, and a little melted coconut oil or butter.

 Half way through the glazing process, I tinted the icing pink so I could have two different colours. If you liked,you could do what I did in my spelt doughnuts video, where I dipped a third of the dough nuts in white, then tinted the icing pink and dipped another third, then added some cocoa powder to the icing for the last third, giving my a sort of Neapolitan batch of doughnuts. It really is up to you, and you could of course change up the filling and the flavour of the cake!

☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Yeast
☑ Wheat
☑ Nuts

☒ Eggs
☒ Dairy (dairy substitutes can be found in italics)
☒ Gluten
☒ Refined sugar products

Makes eighteen 1¼ inch (3 centimetre) cakes

For the sponge cake:
  • 1½ ounces (40 grammes) white spelt flour
  • ½ ounce (15 grammes) cornflour
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1½ ounces (40 grammes) caster sugar
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) sunflower oil
  • 1 fluid ounce (30 millilitres) milk, or water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence

For the filling:
  • 1 ounce (30 grammes) room temperature butter, or margarine
  • 3 ounces (85 grammes) icing sugar
  • 2 or 3 teaspoons (10 to 15 millilitres) room temperature milk, or milk substitute, or water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence

For the pouring 'fondant icing':
  • 6 ounces (170 grammes) icing sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) melted butter, or coconut oil
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60 millilitres) warm water
  • Silver dragees, hundreds and thousands, glace cherries, chopped nuts, or small sweets for decorating

First, prepare the cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 170ºC (325ºF/Gas Mk. 3) and grease and flour a 4½x8 inch loaf tin, or you can use a silicone one which doesn't need greasing or flouring.
  • Separate your egg, putting the yolk in a jog or small bowl, and the white into a mixing bowl. Add the oil, milk or water, and vanilla essence to the yolk and mix with a fork until fully blended.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and the pinch of salt together until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar gradually, about a tablespoon at a time, beating all the time, until the egg white is glossy and stiff.
  • Take a spoonful of the egg white and mix into the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the white, and fold gently but thoroughly with a balloon whisk or spatula until there are no streaks left.
  • Sieve the flours and baking powder into the egg mixture, folding gently but thoroughly until the flour has all dissolved.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out with a spoon. Tap firmly on the work surface about two or three times to even out the surface and release any trapped air bubbles.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pale golden brown, risen, and springy to the touch. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the cake, then allow to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.

Next, fill the cake:
  • Make the buttercream according to the method found here. Carefully cut the cake in half horizontally, gently flipping the top off. Spread the buttercream on the bottom layer, and then sandwich the top back on. Allow to set for about 30 minutes.
  • With the assistance of a ruler, trim the crusts off the cake until you have a 3¾ by 7½ inch (9.5 by 19 centimetre) oblong cake. Mark into 1¼ inch squares, 6 lines along the wide side and 3 along the short side. You will get 18 little cakes (you can nibble on the trimmed edges, if you're not worried about your waistline)

Now comes the glazing:

  • To glaze, you will need a wire rack and a large roasting dish to put the rack on. This is so the icing that drips off the cakes can be collected and re-used.
  • Make the icing by mixing the melted butter or oil and water into the icing sugar in a small bowl or jug to get a flowing consistency, but still thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. This might take all the water required, maybe a little more, but only add in the water a teaspoonful at a time to avoid wrecking it.
  • Put three or four little cakes at a time on the rack, and pour a copious amount of icing on each one, paying particular attention to the corners and the sides. Make sure to drench them, using nearly all of the icing, because once they've finished dripping you'll be scooping up the excess icing and reusing it.
  • While the icing is still wet on the top of the cakes, sprinkle on some decorations if you like. I used silver dragees for mine, but you could use anything you like.
  • Once the icing has finished dripping off the cakes, gently remove the rack and scoop back into the bowl or jug. To restore the flowiness, pop into the microwave for a few seconds, or dip the bottom of the jug in a bowl of hot water and stir.
  • When the first lot of cakes has set enough to move, about 5 or 10 minutes, pick them up with a palette knife or fish slice and move them to a plate or chopping board.
  • Repeat with all the cakes. Half way through the process you can colour the icing to have a two tone batch of cakes, if you like.
  • Once the cakes have all set enough to pick up, about 30 minutes, put each cake in its own little case. Standard fairy cake sized cases are ideal for these, not mini cases or muffin cases.

These were delicious, and quite a hit with the mother and sister 'in-law', and with basically everyone else who ate them. I was super pleased with how they turned out. I think my next batch will be a coffee flavoured one...

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