It’s ages since I baked something new. It’s so hot and sticky in the summer and no one really feels like eating cake all that much.
Jaffa cakes are one of the treats that my children miss from England – a kind of mini cake come biscuit – a fatless sponge with a disk of orange flavoured jelly on top and covered with a layer of chocolate. Most kids perfect the art of eating the sponge and chocolate from around the jelly so that they can pop that into their mouths last.
When we were last in England, we bought some for about 50 pence in Tesco, I remember unbranded ones being 28 pence a pack. We rely on a taste of them every other year when relatives visit and generously bring our favourites over. This year our English treats have been more frequent as we had visitors in June, have more in September and our eldest son took a trip to England earlier in the Summer. Treats galore! Needless to say theses things don’t last long.
I’ve never considered making Jaffa cakes myself. Why would I? They’re so cheap in Tesco (even a few thousand miles away).
The Great British Bake Off is back on telly in the UK. I hadn’t planned to bake along with the technical challenge this year, but in the first episode it was jaffa cakes! I resisted the temptation to have a go for about three days…
Jelly is different here and it’s called ‘jello’. It comes in the same shape little pack as in the UK, but it’s powder rather than concentrated wobbly jelly. I wasn’t sure whether it would work the same as Mary Berry’s recipe. It tells you to add much less water than it calls for usually, and add the zest of an orange. When I tasted the result once it had set, I thought it might be way too strong – it tasted to me like concentrated UK-style neat orange squash (that’s a drink not a vegetable). The colour is pretty scary as well.
The sponge bottom is easy enough, just whisk together some eggs and sugar then fold in a little flour. When they’re cooled, which takes no time at all, the orange jelly discs are plonked on top.
The recipe calls for 46% cocoa chocolate for the topping. I couldn’t find that specified so used Cadbury’s Dark chocolate. Once I melted that, I had to wait a long time for it to cool and thicken – it’s very humid here at the moment. By the time it came to spread it on top of the cakes, it was late and I had little patience to make them perfect. I failed at making criss-cross patterns on them, their appearance wouldn’t win the technical challenge. After waiting ages for them to set, in which time I made some chocolate and banana bread, I stuck them in the fridge to finish off…
It was about 10pm when we had a taste test. To mine and everyone else’s surprise they taste perfect! Some magic must happen when that neon disk is put with the sponge and chocolate. They taste just like a Jaffa cake should. Apparently, my son popped one his mouth and his eyes glinted, Paul Hollywood style.
I can’t say I’ll be making them all the time – it costs far more than 50 pence to throw these babies together – but at least the kids may get them more than a bi-yearly treat. The icing on the (Jaffa) cake is that my husband can’t stand the things, whether shop bought or homemade, meaning that they’ll last that tiny bit longer.