Friday, 30 September 2011

Fondant Fancies

I have no idea what posessed me to do this to myself today...
After a dreadful morning running around hunting down my lost iPhone and wasting at least half a tank of gas retracing my steps I thought - I know, lets bake some really fiddly time consuming Fondant Fancies - I must be insane!  To be fair I had been obsessing about cooking these little beauties all week long (low carb diets will do that to a girl...)

I was always a fan of the Mr Kipling French Fancies.  Then after the popularity of the Lamington post last week I thought - how can we expand upon the complexity of that but with a similar theme...Fancies.

To the un-initiated a Fondant Fancy is a square of sponge cake topped with a little dollop (technical term) of flavoured buttercream - in this case strawberry. Then covered in a smooth glossy fondant icing to give a smooth appearance.  They sometimes accompany coffee as Petit Fours after a meal.  One perfect little mouthful.

I used the same basic sponge mixture as the Lamington from last week but used a much larger sheet cake tin and as I thought the sponge again worked beautifully.  While the cake is cooking mix up your flavoured buttercream (won't need too much) to a stiff'ish consistency but can still be piped.

Ingredients - Sponge
4 Free Range Eggs
3/4 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Cup GF Plain Flour  (self raising makes for a soapy taste in this large cake)
1 Teaspoon GF Baking Powder

2 Cups Pure Icing Sugar
1/4 Cup softened Unsalted Butter
Strawberry Essence
Little milk 

3 Cups Pure Icing Sugar
Strawberry Essence

  1. Heat oven to 160C fan forced.  Little higher if not fan forced.
  2. In a large bowl or in your bowl mixer if you have one, beat your 4 eggs for 10 full minutes until thick and very creamy.
  3. Gradually add the sugar to the eggs continue beating until sugar is dissolved.  You can test for this by pinching a little of the mixture between thumb and forefinger and rubbing.  If you still feel granules keep beating a little longer.
  4. Sift the flour and Baking powder into the mix and carefully fold it into the egg mix being careful to keep the beautiful air in the mix.
  5. Into the greased and lined sheet cake tin pour your mix.
  6. Bake until set - about 35 - 40 minutes.  Remove and turn out immediately onto a wire cake rack that has been covered in a sheet of baking paper.
  7. Once cool - using a large sharp knife trim the edges of the cake and slice to the size you want for your fancies - usually about 2-3 cm squares.  I did not need to refrigerate mine but if crumbly place in freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
  8. Make up the buttercream icing in a separate bowl by using an electric mixer to mix the icing sugar, flavouring and butter then add just enough milk to achieve desired consistency.  and pipe a small mound onto the top of each square of cake.  It is roughly the size and shape of a marble placed in the centre of each little cake.  Set aside and let these harden.
  9. Once the buttercream has become a little dry and harder they are ready to be coated in the fondant icing.  I read many recipes for this but decided to try the most simple method - see above ingredients.
  10. For the Fondant, mix the sifted 100% pure icing sugar (not icing mixture) into a bowl.  Add about 1 tsp strawberry essence to the mix and begin mixing.  Be very careful adding only 1 tsp of water at a time until the right consistency is achieved.  Not too think but not too thin.  This is a trial and error process.  Have a couple of test runs coating your cakes. using a spoon on a wire rack over a bowl.
  11. As the fondant begins to harden, either warm slightly in the microwave or add another drop of water.  Use a desert spoon to ladle over the icing it will smooth out as it slides down.  If the layer is too thin wait til it dries a little then apply a second coat.
  12. You can then place little icing flowers, cachou balls or other decorations on the top. 
I really hope you like these, yes they are fiddly but a few little gorgeous ones go a long way and they really are very pretty on a plate.


Saturday, 24 September 2011

Strawberry Lamington Pillows

Really, these are Lamingtons but rather than using pink icing I am using the Strawberry Jelly version which I guess technically makes them Jelly Squares.  But for all intents and purposes you have two little sponge squares coated in lovely pink strawberry yuminess - rolled in desiccated coconut then sandwiched together with a little cream.  I like the sandwiching thing.  Especially as my GF sponge did not rise very high (it would have if I had not split my mix in half) and I used a slice pan instead of a Lamington tin - technicalities sheesh!  I also liked making them bite sized - I need the calorie control...

I have always been defeated by Gluten Free sponge but this recipe nailed it.  Absolutely gorgeous fluffy and light just melting in the mouth.  I dare anyone to tell me Gluten Free cannot be light and airy.  I may try baking this recipe again in a large cake tin in one hit to see how the larger sponge turns out.  Key to the lightness of the sponge is that 10 minute (! yes don't skimp) beating time for the eggs at the beginning - thats what gives you the lightness and not doorstops for sponges.

I love a Lamington but have never seen a GF one to buy but I hear such a mythical creature does exist in some far flung places - obviously nobody is flinging any near me!  A little fiddly - yes, but cute ?  Yeah.  Don't you think so ?

4 Free Range Eggs
3/4 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Cup GF Self Raising Flour
1 Teaspoon GF Baking Powder

1 packet Red Jelly Crystals - strawberry or raspberry
Desiccated Coconut

  1. Make up the Jelly as directed and place in fridge to cool and come to desired "Runny cake mix consistency".  Make sure it doesn't set too far as it won't stick to cake.
  2. Heat oven to 160C fan forced.  Little higher if not fan forced.
  3. In a large bowl or in your bowl mixer if you have one, beat your 4 eggs for 10 full minutes until thick and very creamy.
  4. Gradually add the sugar to the eggs continue beating until sugar is dissolved.  You can test for this by pinching a little of the mixture between thumb and forefinger and rubbing.  If you still feel granules keep beating a little longer.
  5. Sift the flour and Baking powder into the mix and carefully fold it into the egg mix being careful to keep the beautiful air in the mix.
  6. Into the greased and lined cake tin pour your mix - don't worry if you have to do it in two halves like I did it was fine waiting for the first lot to cook.
  7. Bake until set - about 35 - 40 minutes.  Remove and turn out immediately onto a wire cake rack that has been covered in a sheet of baking paper.
  8. Once cool - using a large sharp knife trim the edges of the cake and slice to the size you want for your lamington.  I did not need to refrigerate mine but if crumbly place in freezer for about 5-10 minutes.
  9. With the jelly in one bowl and the coconut in another have one large plate or tray handy to place the coated lamingtons on.  If using a tray line it with baking paper.
  10. I used the wet hand dry hand method.  One hand dips in the jelly, the other coats with the coconut - meaning each hand stays relatively clean and doesn't end up with a huge mess.
  11. Leave them to dry out a little before assembling.
  12. You can sandwich them like I did by whipping a little cream and putting them together.  They taste deeeevine. 
The PERFECT gluten free lamington fix and actually not as hard or fiddly as I thought.  Love these 100% more than Whoopie Pies - the Americans can keep those - give me an Aussie Lamington any day!


Thursday, 15 September 2011

Ginger Whoopie Pies

OK, after the Macaron, the next most talked about thing in baking at the moment has to be the Whoopie Pie.  Not one to get sucked in too quick to the latest craze I have held off on these babies too.  Now, quite surprisingly for a female - I am NOT a chocolate fan.  It can sit in my house for weeks at a time and I won't touch it. Don't get me wrong, if its the only thing there is I will eat it but given a choice between a choccy desert or a nice apple crumble ? the crumble wins hands down.  Fruity over chocolate every time.

Unsurprisingly then, my foray into the Whoopie Pie has not been with chocolate.  They come in many flavours but I have opted for ginger in some kind of a replica of a "Ginger Kiss".  I adored these as a child but my husband fails to remember them.  Apparently so the story goes,  the name for these little cake sandwiches came from the Amish people in North America.  The men, upon finding one of these little beauties in their lunch pail were often found to exclaim - "Whoopie !"  hence the name.

Anyway, they are like 2 half cupcakes sandwiched together with either a buttercream or marshmallow filling between the two halves.

These have turned out just beautifully despite adapting the American recipe to Oz measurements not to mention Gluten Free.

I have used a lemon buttercream filling but a cream cheese icing with a little lemon zest in it would also be outstanding.

8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
3/4 Cup light Brown Sugar - firmly packed
1 large Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 + 3/4 Cups Plain GF Flour
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
3 teaspoons ground Ginger
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Pinch Salt
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil (I used Macadamia Oil)
1/3 Cup Treacle or Molasses (I used Treacle - Golden Syrup would work too)
1/2 Cup Natural Yoghurt or Sour Cream (I used half and half)

2 Cups Pure Icing Sugar
25g Softened Unsalted Butter
1 Large Lemon

  1. Preheat Oven to 160 Celsius Fan forced or 180C if not.
  2. In a large bowl, cream your butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy then beat in your egg and vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine with a balloon whisk, the GF flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger along with the baking soda and salt - set aside.
  4. Then in a smallish bowl you need to mix together your wet ingredients and give them a little mix around.
  5. Continue using your electric mixer and alternately ad in the we and dry mixes to the large bowl until until combined.
  6. I used a shallow-round bottomed patty tin to bake these scarping in the mix and using my spatula to level them in and fill the holes.  This gave a nice smooth rounded pie.  You could just pipe the mix into circles or place drops onto a baking sheet.  Be sure however to make them the same size as you will need to sandwich them.
  7. Bake for approx 7-10 minutes - they don't take long until a wooden skewer comes out clean.
  8. Remove and cool then prepare your filling.
  9. In your mixing bowl combine the softened butter and the icing sugar beating well with electric beaters.  Grate the zest of the lemon into the bowl and beat in.  Then use the juice of the lemon to mix the icing to the desired consistency that will be able to sandwich the pies together.
Voila - Whoopie Pies!!
L x

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Mango Coconut Bread

If I had to pick one food to live on forever on a desert island, what would I pick ?  Mangoes ! Truly these little gems are foods of the Gods.

Mangoes always seemed like such an exotic and tropical fruit when I lived in New Zealand and especially when living in London.  It conjured up images of tropical beaches, palm trees and holidays.  How very fortunate that I now live in a place that produces mangoes by the truckload.  At the end of summer here in Queensland, Australia, there is usually a glut of them and you can pick up whole trays of mangoes for about $15 each (about 50c/mango!)  So each year I buy a tray.  I skin and package up the cheeks and freeze them for use over the winter months in deserts, baking, smoothies etc.

I came across a recipe for a Mango Bread today and thought I would give it a go with a Gluten Free twist and throw in some other bits and bobs I had lying around.  I thought Coconut would be a good match with the Mango, I had some beautiful fresh pecan nuts and some plump juicy sultanas - in they all went.  I used a Macadamia Oil in this recipe also so a very Australian recipe indeed.

2 Cups Plain GF Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon GF Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Cup Oil (Macadamia or vegetable)
1/2 Cup Melted Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Chopped Nuts (I used Pecans, Macadamia or walnuts would also be nice)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1.5 Cups Finely Chopped Mango (you could use fresh, or tinned even)
2 Eggs, beaten
1/2 Cup Sultanas or Raisins

  1. Heat Oven to 160Celsius (fan forced) or 180 if not fan forced.
  2. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
  3. Combine your dry ingredients together in a large bowl and mix with a balloon whisk to aerate flour.
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add all the other ingredients into the bowl.
  5. Stir well to combine,
  6. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a wooden skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Mine actually took about 90 minutes so remember every oven is different.  Use the wooden skewer and keep checking every 5 minutes after 1hr passes.
  7. Leave to cool slightly before removing from the tin.
This makes a beautiful but moist loaf that will keep well in an airtight container for a few days.  It is easier to slice when completely cooled.  Enjoy cold, perhaps with a scrape of butter or warmed slightly with some mango puree drizzled over...mmm yummy.


Thursday, 8 September 2011

Cake Decoration and Fun with Fondant!

No recipe post today and not even strictly Gluten Free, but as I had such a HUGE response to the Plants vs Zombie cake I thought you would like to see a couple of new creations from this week.

The first picture above is the decorated Rich Fruit Cake with Marzipan and Fondant Icing.  I had to create a 60th Birthday Cake for a friend of the family and surfing buddy of my Dad.  He adores fruit cake and its one of my most favourite cakes too.  Usually I like my fruit cakes to have a good 6-8 weeks to 'mature' but this one had 2 weeks so it was given several good 'feeds' of brandy to help it along.

The cake was then covered in Almond Paste (which I prefer to Marzipan) and then a thin overall layer of plain white rolled fondant icing.  I would like to take credit for the design of this cake but sadly I am not in the least arty.  I plug in my key words into the magic Google and hey presto pics appear.  This design is not taken from a cake site.

I create all my coloured fondants in one hit.  I cover my bench with cling film, grab my latex gloves and work backwards from lightest to darkest colours.  In this instance I created the blue then the brown.  I use gel colours to tint the fondant this allows you to get a good colour depth without wetting the fondant or it becoming sticky.

I split the cake into rough thirds and worked backwards from sky to sand.  I created the Surfboards by cutting them in various shapes and heights from plain white fondant.  I then hand painted them all using the gel colours and some food decorating colour pens.  I have a selection of small paint brushes I use for my freeform painting.  Once the boards were decorated I set aside to dry and harden.

I then used a small very sharp knife to cut freeform clouds out of white fondant and using stencils cut out the '60' and also set aside to dry and harden.

I was originally in two minds about how to approach the sand.  The design I was copying from used coloured fondant but as I was in and out of my cake drawer I spied light brown sugar and wondered how good it would look as real 'sand' on the cake.  So glad I did that now as it really lifts the whole thing.
I positioned the hardened boards against the wooden fence and then set to creating the little balls that formed the frame for the picture.  I attached the fondant balls to the cake using a little eggwhite brushed around the edge.

I then used the light brown sugar to fill in the beach on the scene using a little painted on eggwhite to have it stick to the fondant.  Now for the final touches.  I stuck the clouds into the sky and the '60' onto the cloud and mixed up two colours of royal icing to pipe the palm trees and trunks.  I used a small Wilton nozzle for the palm fronds called "grass"  I think.    Hey Presto - Complete'o.

Cake number two was my very first "paid" for creation.  I was more than a little nervous making this cake.  When you are taking someone's money for a cake you want it to look good, taste good and feel like it was worth their money.  The cake was for a farewell from work function.  The lady in question being a HUGE Cherry Ripe  fan which for my non- Australian followers is obviously a choc-cherry chocolate bar.

The cake was a Double Chocolate, Cherry and Coconut Mud Cake coated in chocolate ganache.  I surrounded the cake in cut to size Corinthian biscuits and made a bed of chopped Cherry Ripe for the top and completed the top with a fondant version of the Choccy Bar.  I had to to freeform cut out the letters as my stencils were too large for the bar.  I think it turned out not too bad.

Hope it inspires you to have a go yourself!


Saturday, 3 September 2011

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

OK this is a lovely recipe for GF baking and one thats so easily adaptable to any fruit you happen to have handy so if you don't like pineapple substitute whatever fruit you do like or have on hand.  Bananas, berries, apples, apricots, pears all will be equally fabulous.

Now you will notice that my cake has not risen very much in  the picture.  Two reasons here.  I had adapted a nonGF recipe and I think I needed to up the raising agent.  Also my ring tin was a large one so the mixture was not very deep.  If you use a normal sponge cake sized tin of about 20cm diameter you will be fine, but if your tin is a large one, you may want to double the sponge cake mixture and amend the cooking time a little longer.

One other note.  I used a normal soft brown sugar in my recipe - I would probably recommend if you have it, using a dark brown sugar or muscavado sugar to give a real dark caramel colour and flavour to the top of your cake when you turn it out.

440g Tin of Pineapple in juice or other fruit of your choice
1/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar

90g Unsalted Butter
1/2 Cup Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1 + 1/4 Cups Self Raising GF Flour
1 teaspoon GF Baking Powder

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 Celsius
  2. Line the bottom of your sponge tin or ring tin with non-stick baking paper
  3. Drain your pineapple or other tinned fruit and keep some juice
  4. Sprinkle the brown sugar into the base of your cake tin evenly and arrange your pineapple or fruit in the base.  For your pineapple its easier to cut the circles into half and arrange.
  5. Now in a large bowl cream your butter and caster sugar together until light and fluffy 
  6. Add one egg at a time beating well between each addition
  7. Add your flour and baking powder and fold in adding a about 2-3 Tablespoons of the reserved juice.
  8. Pour the batter over the fruit evenly being careful not to disturb the arranged pieces
  9. Place in oven and bake for approx 40-50 minutes or until wooden skewer comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes then turn out onto a large plate.
Beautiful served hot or cold.  It makes a nice cold cake but also a beautiful desert with custard.
Enjoy !