My Fancy Halloween.
I come to you wrapped up in my finest fair isle jumper, and a cup of tea in hand, because it’s bloody freezing outside! I think the heavy fog we’ve had all this week was keeping the heat in a little, because now that it’s lifted, the temperature has taken a bit of a nose-dive. Oh well! More excuses for lovely Winter food I suppose.
Although, saying that, the thing I’m bringing today is not in the slightest bit Wintry. It couldn’t really be less Halloween-ey, but I’m gonna indulge myself later on so I don’t entirely mind.
I’ve been saying for weeks (months, years actually) that I should try my hand at my own take on popular cakes/desserts. I think everyone at some point in their life will do something like this, it’s inevitable. I will wager that it’ll also be for one of the following reasons:
1) You’re sick of the same flavours of shop bought treats, and want to tailor a popular classic to your tastes.
2) You want to surprise somebody with a birthday/anniversary/celebration with their favourite sweet with a little more love.
3) Bakesale or charity fundraising, and somebody needs to make the cake.
4) You want to flaunt your inner domestic god(/dess) and impress somebody.
5) You have an afternoon free and you want some cake.
Mine was the latter, maybe I went a little overboard for personal treats, they did take an awful long time. Paired with the fact that I’ve just bought loads of food colour pastes and I was dying to try them out.
Yeah, as you can tell, I made fondant fancies, or french fancies, whatever you like to call them. Now, if you don’t like sweet things, this may not be your cup of tea, they are sweet. But they’re only a little bite so you’re not exactly eating a huge slab of it (unless you want to, then I suppose you could go to town!). If you have no idea what I’m talking about, fondant fancies are little squares of sponge, usually vanilla, which is covered in a small blob of butter cream and covered with icing and chocolate. I went for the classic drizzled pattern, but I didn’t fancy the chocolate so I just stuck with a slightly darker coloured icing.
I’m in two minds about what to do with this recipe, personally, I prefer them without the butter cream, but some people that I donated them to said they were lovely with it. So I’ll let you decide on whether or not you fancy including it (pun sort of intended, ha!). Oh the cheese of it all, I apologise! If you want to leave it out, just skip a few of the middle steps in the recipe. You guys aren’t stupid, so I don’t need to highlight which bits.
I’ll keep it short though, if you wanna do flavoured sponge, be my guest. I went for lemon, because I had unwaxed lemons I needed to use, but it honestly doesn’t matter as long as you pick complementing flavours.
NB:- I’m not including the exact recipe for a sponge cake here because there’s not much point. You can pick whatever recipe you like, you’re very welcome to have a peruse of my recipe index to see if any cakes stands out to you. Or use one that’s good for you, it’s all well and good having a moist lovely cake, but that’s not what you entirely want here. It’s better to have a slightly sturdier sponge, like maybe a Victoria sponge. Or something similar?
Lemon Fondant Fancies
1 square sponge cake. I used my lemon drizzle sponge, which was pretty yum (which you can find >here<).
1kg box of icing sugar (I didn’t use all of it but it’s good to have spare)
3 or 4 tablespoons salted butter
1 scant tsp of vanilla.
Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
Food colouring of choice (I went for violet and electric blue)
– Make sure that when you bake your sponge, you flatten the mixture down in the pan so it doesn’t rise unevenly. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem in a big pan but still. And let it cool completely. Don’t be impatient with this, it needs to be ‘Steve Austin’! Make it the day before if you can.
– Cut the cake into equal squares, you can chop off the darker edges of the cake if you like, It’s good to snack on whilst you’re doing it. And leave them on the cooling rack!
– I’m quite lazy with butter cream, if i’m honest, I don’t whip it up until it’s light at fluffy, I basically stir everything together until I get the texture I want. Shameful of me, I know! Stir the butter, vanilla and lemon rind (if you’re doing a lemon batch like I did) into the butter, and slowly keep adding icing sugar until you get a consistency that sticks to the spoon without falling off. If it’s too runny, it’ll slip off the top of the cake once you start to spoon over the icing (which I totally did on my blue set of cakes!).
– You can pipe it on top of the squares if you like, or you can spoon it on the top and flatten it down with a finger that’s been dipped in water, to help round it off a little bit. For the sake of aesthetics, you know how it is!
– Leave the butter cream to form a slight crust in the open air while you’re prepping the icing.
– Empty about 3/4 of the remaining icing sugar into a bowl, and start adding water in tablespoons, stirring between each one. It’s important to do it in small intervals because I always end up with icing that’s too runny!
– When it’s a really thick consistency, think the texture of acrylic paint, divide it between two bowls. Then get a third smaller bowl, and take out 3 or 4 tablespoons from each half and put it in the third bowl. So you end up with two relatively equal big bowls and one smaller bowl.
– Add food colouring to both big bowls, to make a light pastel colour (or whatever colour you want to use) until it’s just right. Then, using the same colouring, dye the smaller bowl a darker shade of the same colour. Sorry, I know, so many ‘colours’ dotted around, bear with me!
– Add a teaspoon of water to the one big bowl until it’s a little thinner, and keep adding it in bits until it’s almost runny. Not water-runny, but runny icing.
– Put down some newspaper, and put a baking try under the cooling rack you’re working on.
– Drizzle the runny icing over the top of all of the cakes, spreading it along the sides of each one if it doesn’t quite coat it well. And leave them to dry. It’s quite common to do this in baking, it’s like a smaller version of a crumb crust. The thicker icing gives a better finish, but it can drag loose crumbs off the outside of each little square, so using the thinner one helps.
– Once dried, spoon over the thicker icing, you might need to “encourage” it to run all over the cake, by smoothing it with the back of a spoon. It’s kinda messy, but easier than dipping I found.
– Once the thicker icing’s dried, pop your darker coloured icing in a piping bag, and drizzle a lovely little pattern over your cakes, and you’re sorted!
It sounds a lot quicker on this page, but it does take a while. It’s quite a lot of waiting around for stuff to dry, but it is fun to do. Also, it might look like you have way too much icing, but most of it will go on the tray underneath so don’t worry about developing diabetes, although I probably wouldn’t recommend eating these if you’re worried, they are a deliciously sweet little petit four. The lemon really did help though, I’ll probably add even more zest and juice to my cake next time, to add a little more tartness to it!
But there you go, I know a few of you were wondering how to make them, they’re not difficult, just a little time-consuming. Good if you want to keep yourself occupied, it’s quite relaxing spooning icing over things actually, a nice stress relief. Not that I have much to stress about in my life right now, but you get my point.
I had actually intended this to be a short post today, because I’m about to go and make some Halloween-based treats (if I can get the motivation to stop reading silly stories online). Oopsie! I’ll leave you all to go get dressed up for your Halloween nights out, have a good ‘un!