In the Final of this year’s Great British Bake Off, the Technical Challenge was to make Fondant Fancies. None of the contestants did very well, and while viewers may have been surprised by that, they were almost certainly taken aback by the frankness with which Mary Berry, who is normally so supportive, expressed her disappointment at the bakers’ efforts. But I knew exactly what they were going through, for I have made Fondant Fancies myself, and it was not by any means my happiest baking experience.
Mind you, I think I did inadvertently choose the most complicated recipe in the world. The process took hours and was extremely fiddly and frustrating. Icing the cakes was a nightmare, and after I had finally managed to get them covered I thought they looked dreadful. Feeling rather despondent, I set them aside to dry. But to my surprise, after I had put a few dashes and swirls of icing and some flowers and baubles on top, and placed them in cake cases, they looked a whole lot better, even quite pretty. They tasted good too. But I was still not convinced they were worth all the time and effort I had put into making them.
Now, if I found it so challenging to make these, in the comfort of my own home, with as much time as I liked at my disposal, imagine how difficult it must have been for the Bake Off men, with the accumulated pressure of having minimal instructions, a tight deadline, cameras watching their every move, and presenters and frowning judges milling around and interrupting them with questions. Not to mention the stress and emotion of it being the Final. I did not envy them, and I’m not all surprised that their cakes did not really make the grade.
Mine may have turned out reasonably well, but at the time I swore never to make them again, and I would very possibly have told anyone else that they would be mad to try. However, I may now be prepared to give them one more shot. Sarah Trivuncic has recently published a lovely little book called Bake me I’m yours… sweet bitesize bakes in which she describes an unusual method for icing them that certainly sounds worth a try. As it happens her recipe has also been published on-line at Stitch Craft Create. I’ll be interested to hear if any of you are brave (or crazy) enough to give it a go.