Fondant Fancy fail…

Like most of the country, we were glued to the recent series of The Great British Bake Off. Louis and Xav had their favourite (James) and we were all on the edges of our seats for last Tuesday’s final, watching as the three remaining bakers did their best to impress Mary and Paul with their creations.

However, I have to confess that when Brendan, James and John put their fondant fancy efforts in front of the judges, we were a bit ‘hurrumph’ about them. They looked rubbish didn’t they? Not what you’d expect from any of them, and definitely not what you’d expect to see in the final.

In hindsight, I should have taken that as a warning. If three top amateur bakers, each with the most delicate of touches, could only pile-drive their way through fondant fancy making, then it probably isn’t easy.

But I didn’t heed those warnings. Neither did I think twice as I walked past Mr Kipling’s FFs in the supermarket for £1 a pack, favouring instead the multiple ingredients we would need that cost ten times that.

Yes, we had made a plan to make fondant fancies and so that is what we did. Well, I say we. In reality, Louis gave up after 40 minutes so I was mostly doing it on my own in a mess of marzipan and pink fondant icing.

We followed Mary Berry’s BBC Food recipe. It says preparation time is 30 minutes to 1 hour. Now either Mary works at the speed of light or that’s a gross under-estimation of the time it takes to create these babies. I think I spent a good two hours on them in all (plus a further hour spent scraping icing off most of the kitchen surfaces).

I’ve included some staged pictures above so you can see what’s involved in making them (and then mentally remember that Mr Kipling sells them for £1 a box….).

Normally, I love a good baking project but this was tricky, faffy and I still can’t work out how Mary gets such beautifully even sides to her iced fancies. Her technique involves sticking a fork into the sponge bases at an angle, dipping them into the fondant, whipping them out and easing them off the fork onto a wire tray. It seems all of this must be done without actually touching any of the sides with your fingers.

THIS IS WAY MORE DIFFICULT THAN YOU WOULD THINK.

I tried. Honestly I did. I tried 25 times in fact. I tried Mary’s method (iced sponge too heavy and inverted to come out of the fondant without splitting in half or falling off the fork). I tried spooning icing over the tops of them and letting it fall down the sides (uneven coverage). I tried dunking them as you would a biscuit in a cup of tea (too unbelievably messy for words). Nothing seemed to work well. There wasn’t a completely covered or smooth-sided fondant fancy in sight.

I guess covering the sponge squares in butter-cream first of all doesn’t help. Buttercream is bumpy so how could the fondant then be smooth? And I detest marzipan so sticking a square on top of each fancy was never going to be a winner in my book. The overall presentation was mildly pulled back by drizzling melted chocolate over the top of each fancy but all in all, I’d say this was a baking experiment never to be repeated.

I’ve kept half of them, and chucked half away. I rather expect the remaining half will be in the bin by the end of the week. Then I’ll resort to my secret stash of Halloween fondant fancies for this weekend’s party…