One of my strongest childhood memories is the ritual of our family's Sunday Tea, which always took a certain form. My nan would put the kettle on at just before 4pm, and a pot of steaming hot tea would soon be brewed. There were sandwiches, and always, always some form of cake. Quite often, if nan and mum had had a busy weekend, it would be provided by Mr Kipling. My brother and I looked forward to this with some enthusiasm, as there were quite often French Fancies and Vienniese Whirls, which were our hands-down favourites. We could leave the Battenburg Slices, and the jam tarts were often a bit too dry for us (definitely not as good as homemade). But the soft sweet inside of an iced French Fancy (my favourite being the lemon yellow ones), and the moistness of the Viennese Whirls were something to savour. Of course, you can still buy these. But they just don't seem to taste the same somehow.
So when Amy announced this week's Bake Off challenge as the Apricot Swiss Cakes from Mary Berry's 100 Cakes and Bakes, and I read through the recipe, it reminded me of those Vienniese Whirls. Throughout the week, my fellow bakers began their versions, and the feedback was that they were delicious - their likeness to Viennese Whirls being mentioned every so often. I was really looking forward to this one then, hoping to recreate a little of that magic.
This is a fairly straightforward recipe, but a new method for me of making cakes. The texture is quite short, due to the amount of butter (and no eggs!) and is more of a biscuit than a cake. If I was anticipating something along the lines of a Vienniese Whirl, I was wrong, as I don't think these were quite as soft. They were very delicate and fragile, easily crumbling if cut.
You cream softened butter with icing sugar, and then add in self raising flour and a much smaller amount of cornflour. This is beaten together to form a paste.
This is then transferred to a piping bag, and the mixture piped into prepared bun trays lined with fairy cake liners. I used a very large star nozzle for this, which is what MB suggests.
The mixture was very stiff and difficult to pipe, but nearer the end, it seemed to soften slightly, probably from the temperature of my hands on the piping bag.
I then baked them in a 160 fan oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.
MB's instructions then say to add a small amount of jam into the centre and dust with icing sugar - I did it the other way around, dusting first and then adding the jam, as I didn't want the jam to look 'dusty', and it seemed more in keeping with the photo in the book.
Maybe that's a lesson for me though as well. Trying to recreate a fondly held memory doesn't always work out. Maybe it shouldn't. Maybe it's better to leave them to that particular place in time, and simply enjoy them for what they are.