Hello, I'm sorry I've been absent for so long. I really can't believe it's been four weeks since I shared anything with you here so thank you for sticking with me. I've been busy, busy, busy and some of that busyness has been about celebrating Tom Kitten's 2nd birthday.
"Mum, can you make a Mr Tumble's Spotty Bag cake for his birthday?" asked my daughter. Hmm. I didn't commit myself immediately. I like baking but my cakes are rather homely, I've never wielded a piping bag because one of my children didn't like butter icing and I've never used fondant either. My grandest cake is the Christmas cake, which gets covered in royal icing whipped up with a knife to look like a snow scene. I didn't feel that I had the necessary skills to meet the current birthday cake standard for two year-olds so it was a couple of weeks before I agreed, reluctantly, on the basis that I can bash out a sponge quite easily and Mr Tumble's bag is a simple, square shape.
What I do have is a good friend who makes incredible celebration cakes so I asked her for advice. "What proportions should I use to make a single tier sponge in an 8" square tin?" I asked her. She suggested that a Madeira cake would be better than a Victoria sponge and gave me her recipe. Now, I expect that many of you are familiar with all of this, and I don't wish to teach anybody's granny to suck eggs, but I have decided to share my new-found knowledge with you because some of you may be as inexperienced as I was and I managed to make something far better than I expected! Would you like to see my fabulous Spotty Bag cake? Here it is. -
Isn't it fab? Best of all, it was far more straightforward than I had anticipated. So, if any of you are called upon to make a Mr Tumble's Spotty Bag cake, this is what I did.
8oz margarine or butter
8oz caster sugar
4 large eggs
10oz self-raising flour
First I put the oven on - my friend said 170 degrees Celsius so I know that means 160 degrees Celsius in my fan oven. Then I sieved the flour into my biggest mixing bowl and added 1tsp baking powder because I noticed that my flour was out of date. Hey ho. Then I put everything else into the bowl, added a dash of vanilla extract because it felt like the right thing to do, and turned on my electric whisk. Pretty soon it was ready and I spooned it into my tin. Then it was into the oven and 55 minutes later, it was ready. (My friend said to bake it for 60-75 minutes but to check it after 30 minutes.)
I cheated enormously here. While the cake was cooling on a rack I went out to Hobbycraft and bought coloured fondant icing in yellow, red, blue and green - I know that I could have bought white fondant and coloured it myself, or even made white fondant and coloured it myself, but I've never done that before either and I didn't think that this was the right time to experiment. The coloured icing was expensive but it was within my budget.
Well, I have to tell you that the whole process went like a dream. I heated up some apricot jam (in a bowl in the microwave oven) until it was runny and brushed it over the cake. I didn't sieve it first but I tried to make sure that I avoided the lumps of fruit, not that there were many because I used cheap jam! I zapped the yellow fondant in the microwave oven for about 20 seconds to make it more pliable and then, having watched a few instructional videos online in advance, I sprinkled icing sugar on the worktop and on the rolling pin, rolled it out, draped it over the cake and smoothed it out before cutting off the excess. Then came the fun bit: the coloured spots. I used small enough quantities that I could squeeze the fondant icing in my hand to warm it up to soften it, rolled them out and used a small dessert glass for the large spots and the metal screw top from a bottle of wine for the small ones, sticking them on with a dab of water. It was so easy that I completed it very quickly, which was a shame because I enjoyed doing it SO much! I can totally understand why some people love this hobby now.
So, we packed up the cake and I sat in the passenger seat of the car and nursed it on my lap all the way to The Teacher's house. The birthday boy and his family had been to the safari park for the day and he was very excited. "Mr Tumble, Mr Tumble!" he said when he saw the cake, and he toddled off to find his own spotty bag. We lit the obligatory birthday candles and sang the birthday song to him and then his mummy helped him to blow out the candles. The cake was cut and I can assure you that it tasted delicious, and I'm not afraid to say that myself.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x
P.S. I'm sorry that my photos are so poor. The lighting in my kitchen really isn't photo-friendly and I'm just not a good photographer and we got so caught up in the excitement at The Teacher's house that I forgot to ask anyone else to photograph the cake before it was demolished.