In this week’s British Pantry, we continue to pay homage to our froggy cousins across the Channel. Today, is of course, Bastille Day; a foundational day for the modern French nation. As well as republicanism, the French make great cakes. And it seems, the British make great fake French cakes. For while we’re sure your average Gaul would balk at the painfully sweet and sticky fondant icing atop a Mr Kipling French Fancy, we think it’s one of the most decadent things you will ever have the pleasure to pop in your mouth.
As the 1985 advert below shows, French Fancies are often found on the table at kids parties, but this doesn’t mean they’re not good enough for adults. A cube of soft sponge topped with a dome of buttercream and enveloped in the aforementioned fondant icing: you’d be very hard pushed to get more indulgent textures into a 2-inch cube.
Despite rigorous research, we’ve been unable to unearth what is so French about French Fancies. We thought the resemblance to petits fours may have explained it, but haven’t been able to verify this. Otherwise, we’re at a loss: they’re not particularly pretentious, they don’t smell and they’re certainly not widely hated. If you know what it is about these delicious treats that makes them so French, do let us know!
It seems French Fancies are a not uncommon choice for a wedding cake. A fantastic idea!
We sell French Fancies in-store and online (when in stock). Call us on 212-989-9735 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire further.
This week’s recipe is for Marie Antoinette. What with it being Bastille Day tomorrow, we thought we’d honor the woman who famously declared “let them eat cake” when told the peasants couldn’t afford bread and winded up losing her head a few years later. Vive la revolution!
As with many of our recipes, this is taken from our cookbook ‘Tea & Sympathy: The Life of An English Teashop in New York’, which is available in-store and to ship. If you’re interested in a copy, send us an email at email@example.com or give us a call on 212-989-9735.
Sugar-Glazed Lemon Cake
This cake has a delicious tangy, sweet, slightly crunchy topping and is a firm favorite of all the staff here. The whole thing often gets eaten long before it makes it to the customer, sorry!
Preparation Time: 1 hour and 35-50 minutes
For the cake:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup whole milk
For the glaze:
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 4 lemons
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- To prepare the cake: Grease and flour an 8 x 4 1/2 x 3-inch loaf tin.
- In an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- With a spatula, fold in the flour and baking powder.
- Add the lemon juice and zest and the milk a little at a time.
- Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and bake for about 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours, until soft and spongy to the touch.
- To prepare the glaze: Gently heat the sugar and lemon juice together until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to boil for about 15 seconds.
- Pour the syrup over the cake while it is warm and let cool.