Fondant fancies are one of my favourite miniature treats, so I decided to liven them up by creating vegan robot versions. These can be a little fiddly to decorate – just take your time and make sure the cake and buttercream are chilled at the right points. Also, use a vegan butter with enough fat to set the buttercream properly. Don’t worry if there are imperfections – you can disguise these with the robot decorations.
For the cake
390g soy milk
1¾ tsp white wine vinegar
155g sunflower oil (or other neutral-tasting oil)
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
¼ tsp salt
350g self-raising flour
260g caster sugar
1¼ tbsp baking powder
For the marzipan
100g icing sugar
100g finely ground almonds
35g aquafaba (chickpea water)
¼ tsp almond extract
For the buttercream
150g vegan butter (use one between 74% and 80% fat, otherwise the buttercream won’t set firmly)
220g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
For the fondant icing
500g white fondant
Gel food dyes to colour (pink, green and yellow)
4-6 tbsp strawberry jam
Sprinkles, fondant and extra food dye to decorate
First, make the cake. Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Use vegan butter to grease a 22cm square tin, then line with greaseproof paper.
In a large bowl, mix the vinegar with the soy milk until it curdles and thickens. Add the rest of the wet ingredients, plus the salt, and stir together.
In a separate large bowl, combine the other dry ingredients. Add this to the wet mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour immediately into the prepared tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
When baked, run a knife around the edge of the tin and turn out on to a wire rack, peeling off the baking paper.
While the cake cools, make the marzipan. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir until it comes together in a smooth ball. Wrap in clingfilm, ready for later.
Next, make the buttercream. Add the butter and icing sugar to a bowl, then cream together using an electric whisk, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and whisk together for a few seconds. Cover with clingfilm.
When the cake is cool, wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer for one to two hours (this will make it easier to cut neatly later).
When the cake is chilled and firm, spread jam over the top, then roll out the marzipan thinly and place on top of the jam layer. Then cut the cake into 25 pieces, trimming the edges if necessary to make them neater.
Use a palette knife to spread buttercream thinly over the four exposed sides of each fondant fancy (there is no need to spread buttercream on the base or on top of the marzipan).
Place the remaining buttercream into a piping bag and cut a medium tip. Pipe a small amount of buttercream in the centre on top of each fondant fancy. Dip your fingertip in water and use it to press down the peak of each mound of buttercream. Place all the fondant fancies in the fridge and leave to chill until the buttercream is firm.
Next, tear the fondant into chunks and add to a stand mixer bowl (a stand mixer is ideal, but you could use an electric hand whisk). Mix on low with the paddle mixer attachment, until the fondant is smooth. Then, gradually add the water while continuing to mix, until the fondant is smooth and pourable. Divide the fondant icing between three bowls and stir through gel food colouring until the desired colour is achieved.
Pierce the base of a fondant fancy with a fork (at an angle, to make it easier to slide off again), then hold it over a bowl while you spoon the icing over the top, making sure to cover all the edges.
Remove the excess drips, then slide off the fork and on to a wire rack. Repeat until all the fancies are covered in different colours. Leave for a few hours, until the icing is set.
Lift from the wire rack and place in cupcake cases that have been folded into squares.
Decorate as robots using various sprinkles (attach using some of the fondant icing). Add painted fondant for the screens. Create your robots however you like.