You know what we haven’t had in a while? A good old fashioned all out baking fail. Well, do I have a treat for you. Don’t let the bright colours and tricky camera angles fool you, this bake was one disaster after another. Or at least one minor problem followed by one more colossal one. Is it fair to blame the eclipse? Or I heard Mars is in retrograde maybe that affects sugar in some undiscovered ways. Mostly though I’m pretty sure it was down to baker error.
Before I even attempted this recipe I was sceptical. Not only was it the final of series three, and all the bakers had a terrible time with it, but it just seemed pretentious. I don’t think I’m demure enough appreciate these little bite sized confections. I get that they are served after massive meals when you are too stuffed to enjoy a full piece of double chocolate brownie caramel explosion or whatever. But that has never happened to me. I always have room for dessert and I mean a proper dessert, something equivalent to about 5 petit fours. As my sister in law would say there is a separate compartment for dessert!
Even if I did think this bake was too dainty for my post-Christmas Grinch heart I got settled into bake. The first order of business was to read the recipe and roll my eyes. Enough with the lemons Mary! We get it you like things tart, it cuts through the sugar blah blah. I’m on strike there are only so many lemons one can buy before you go to the store and start lusting after any other citrus fruit. And in the end I came home with this.
Isn’t it beautiful? Ok, it’s just an orange but I was happy. And I love orange flavoured things. This Easter I tried to make an orange creamsicle cake that came out like a brick because of expired baking powder, but ever since then, I have been craving an orange cake redo.
I had to make my own self-rising flour for this recipe since it’s not readily available at my usual grocery stores. I checked the instructions online and mixed together my all purpose flour, baking powder and salt. At least I’m pretty sure I did. I was overcome with selective amnesia when I was mixing the cake batter the next day, I couldn’t remember if I put the salt in! I really have no idea. Can missing salt result in a crater in the middle of a cooked cake? Because that’s what I got.
Everything I read online says it’s because there was too much raising agent, or I opened the oven door before it was done baking. Both are possible, but regardless of the reason, I had a crater cake.
I turned my back on my second orange cake fail and got started on the butter cream. I made Mary’s butter cream recipe for the Victoria Sponge and I found it very soft and almost too buttery. I guess greasy would be the right word. And this mixture was the same. After a few more scoops of powdered sugar and a sneaky teaspoon of orange juice, I got something more to my taste.
Once my cake was cool I made some strategic cuts to bring it back a more conventional cake shape (I’m not trying to body shame my cake but it had to be done). The surgery did allow me to try the off cuts and they were good!
I brushed the top with apricot jam (without heating or sieving it first – oops) and placed my marzipan on top. I got out my trusty tape measure and turned a perfectly respectable cake into 16 little cakelets (it’s a word, ask Smitten Kitchen).
Remember that colossal fail I promised you? It’s coming, don’t worry. But first I had the finicky job of icing each of the cubes and piping a nipple ontop, because that’s a totally normal thing to do…. As my fancies cooled in the fridge and got acquainted with a watermelon I embarked on the fondant part of this recipe.
For the fondant, I was supposed to use store bought and break it down in the mixer. I did not do that. I found this recipe online and thought it looked much easier and convenient since I had every thing I needed in the cupboard and I did not have a block of pre-made fondant in said cupboard. making pourable fondant is not easy. It went from looking like a giant clump of damp icing sugar to stiff royal icing. The recipe I used said to cook the fondant until it reached 100 degrees. Well at 100 degrees it wouldn’t pour over anything,
I soon learned that making pourable fondant is not easy. It went from looking like a giant clump of damp icing sugar to stiff royal icing. The recipe I used said to cook the fondant until it reached 100 degrees. Well at 100 degrees it wouldn’t pour over anything, finally, at about 150 it was pourable, kind of. It was thick and set so quickly this is what I got.
As you can see I was a little heavy handed with the food colouring. That is not actually Pepto Bismal on a cake. Determined to see it through I kept pouring with the same results until I ran out of fondant to pour. Sadly I had not also run out of fancies to cover. So a panic second batch of fondant went onto the stove. This time I heated it up to 170 and it was a bit better but still too thick. And I couldn’t recapture the same Pepto pink from the first batch so it ended up with multi coloured sickly looking sugar cubes. After artfully drizzling chocolate over all of the cakelets I gave up.
In the end, I came out with three or four nice (only from one angle) looking fondant fancies. One bite was enough to understand why they are traditionally so small. Apparently, you can pack all the sugar of one monster browny caramel fudge colossal sundae into a 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch cube. I met my baking and sugar consumption match in these fondant fancies and it wasn’t pretty.