I did, however, get some sleep. The Patriarch starts a new job tomorrow and so after a week of Mister Baby affording me many explosive shits and no rest, I fled to the grandparents so that some kip might be obtained for us both.
Before baby came along, I held a Maternitea with pals I was aware I wouldn’t see again for some time without poop or tears. Having seen the Great British Bake Off fondant fancy challenge the previous week, I naturally and stupidly thought that I too should attempt them. I then barely ate any of the large array of baked goods I produced because I felt so grim. C’est la pregnant vie.
These treats make for a fun afternoon of baking. They’re sickly sweet and just perfect with a cuppa.
The sponge recipe is largely lifted from Olive.com here. However I found their glaze didn’t quite work for me and besides, I wanted some marzipan too. Behold, chocolate marzipan fondant fancies.
TIME A lot. At least an hour and a half. Longer if you are mortal.
175g plain flour (gluten free, if required. I use Dove’s Farm)
175g golden caster sugar
One teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs, beaten in a mug
One heaped tablespoon of cocoa powder
One block of marzipan (sold in 500g packets in supermarket baking sections)
200g chocolate (dark takes the edge off the sickliness but milk chocolate is an unrefined and enjoyable sugar rush)
8 tablespoons of icing sugar
Milk or white chocolate to decorate
Whisk together the sponge ingredients with a handheld electric whisk. Add water to thin as necessary (approximately half a cup) until the mixture drops easily from the whisk. Cook for 35 minutes at 160 degrees in a 20x20cm lined tin.
If possible, make the sponge the morning or the day before so that it has time to cool completely.
Lay down a sheet of baking paper or dust a clean surface with icing sugar. Roll out the marzipan to 3mm (about the thickness of a pound coin). With a ruler and a knife, cut the marzipan into twenty-five 4cm squares. If you watched Bake Off too, you’ll know that these cakes require you to be precise if they are not to resemble their own drunken cousins. Roll 25 marble-sized balls of marzipan and smooth these onto the squares in order to create the distinctive dome-shaped “hat” of the fondant fancy.
Cut the cooled sponge into 25 corresponding 4cm squares. Top with the marzipan hats.
Melt the 200g of chocolate with the butter in a Bain Marie (this is a posh way of saying in a glass bowl popped in a saucepan over an inch of boiling water). When these have melted, sift in the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a thick, silky glaze. And for god’s sake, do sift the icing sugar.
Otherwise you’ll spend half an hour chasing pin sized lumps around the bowl, as I did with increasing resentment.
One by one, put each topped sponge square on a slotted spatula and spoon the glaze over it until the sponge is completely covered. Do this over the bowl so that any excess returns to the pot.
The glaze won’t cover all 25 squares. Don’t worry. Cool those that you have glazed.
Melt your white or milk chocolate and drizzle artfully over the glazed squares. Use the rest of the chocolate to drip artfully on top of the uncovered ones, then top these with sprinkles.
Chill until you are ready to serve to your duly impressed guests.
The glaze can be made with dark chocolate, and the supermarket baking marzipan is naturally vegan (unlike fancy marzipan, which can contain egg).
I would be curious to know how the sponge would work in a vegan option. Butter can easily be replaced with a non-dairy spread. The difficulty is the eggs. In vegan cakes I always do a one for one chia egg substitution (one chia egg = one tablespoon chia seeds, soaked for ten minutes in three tablespoons of water). The problem in some cakes is that though the chia seeds provide the binding quality of eggs, they don’t provide the rise for the sponge. You could try a commercial “egg replacer” powder, but I would add an extra half teaspoon of baking powder for the rise anyway. Let me know if you try a vegan version and how you get on. I get the feeling the sponge would be structurally sound, but not as light as the non-vegan version.