GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF Technical Challenge One: Jaffa Cakes

As you can see, I’m not writing about makeup today!

If you’re in the UK you know what I’m talking about. Even if you aren’t you may know, as I’m sure it has become quite popular in other countries, too… I am of course talking about the Great British Bakeoff!

This year I have decided to challenge myself a bit. I have fallen out of baking recently, and I wanted to get back into it, so I thought this would be a good way: I am going to attempt to bake every technical challenge from the show this year.

This week I’m running a bit late, seeing as episode 2 was already aired last night, but today we’re concentrating on week one’s technical: Jaffa Cakes!

If you don’t know what a Jaffa Cake is, they usually look a bit like this:

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They’re most often made by popular biscuit and cracker company McVitie’s, and are a baked good with an orange jelly interior and coated in dark chocolate.

There’s been controversy in the UK as to whether they are cakes or biscuits, despite the name. There was even an appeal from McVitie’s regarding their VAT classification in the 90s, which they eventually won, defending their opinion of them as a cake. In the UK societally however, the debate rages on. I personally will always see them as a biscuit…

Anyway…

The contestants did this challenge, and I did what many do when watching shows involving challenges: sat back thinking “I could do that”. How wrong I was!

The recipe which the contestants used was Mary Berry’s own, which is being featured on the BBC Food website here. However, I also decided that I wanted to attempt a vegan base, even though I wasn’t doing a vegan jelly, because I seem to like making things difficult for myself. I googled “vegan jaffa cake recipe” and found this one.

So starting off with the base, I used the vegan recipe linked above, which I will print here as well:

Ingredients

Directions/Method

  1. Grease a bun tray. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and caster sugar. Add the milk, oil and vanilla, stirring until just combined. Drop a small spoonful of the batter into each of the holes in the prepared tray and bake for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the tray for 2 minutes before turning the bases out on to a wire rack to cool completely.

And this is what mine looked like after the recommended time:

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As you can see, they are rather pale. When I turned them over the bottoms also still seemed a bit doughy, and so I took some initiative and decided to put them back in the oven. I actually ended up putting them in for double the time recommended, however they looked much better after their second trip out of the oven:

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Next up was to do the jelly and chocolate topping once they were cooled, and for this I went with good old Mary’s recipe. However, like I said above, I tend to like making things difficult for myself… my husband doesn’t actually like Jaffa Cakes and so I was thinking of what I could do in order to adapt the recipe for his liking, and decided that instead of doing the traditional orange and dark chocolate, that I would try a lemon and white chocolate one.

Here is Mary’s recipe:

Ingredients

For the jelly

  • 1 x 135g packet orange jelly
  • 150ml/5fl oz boiling water
  • 1 small orange, finely grated zest only

For the sponge

For the topping

  • 180g/6¼oz plain chocolate (about 36% cocoa solids)

 

Method

  1. For the jelly, break the jelly into pieces and place in a small bowl. Pour over the boiling water and stir until the jelly is completely dissolved. Add the orange zest, then pour into a shallow 30x20cm/12x8in tray. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour, or until set.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4 and grease a 12-hole, shallow bun tin with butter.

  3. For the sponge, whisk the egg and sugar together for 4-5 minutes until pale and fluffy, then gently fold in the flour. Fill each well in the bun tin three-quarters full (about a dessert spoonful per hole) and smooth the tops. Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until well risen and the top of the sponges spring back when lightly pressed. Leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes then finish cooling on a wire rack.

  4. To assemble, break the chocolate into pieces then melt in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and leave to cool and thicken slightly.

  5. Turn the jelly out onto a sheet of non-stick baking parchment. Cut 12 discs from the orange jelly using a 5cm/2in round cutter. Sit one jelly disc on top of each sponge.

  6. Spoon the melted chocolate over the jelly discs. Using the tips of the tines of a fork or a skewer, lightly press to create a criss-cross pattern on top of the chocolate, then leave to set completely. You may need to reheat the chocolate a little if it starts to set before you have finished all the jaffa cakes.

 

Obviously I decided I could do all of this, but switching out orange jelly and orange zest with lemon, and the dark chocolate with white. However, I made a slight miscalculation when making the jelly and added too much water, making it much more difficult to work with.

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This is my chilled jelly next to my bases. The jelly looks strange because of it being so pale and wrinkling the paper underneath.

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I tried to cut small sections using a biscuit cutter as suggested, however as you can see this didn’t exactly work out due to the water content in my jelly (I suspect).

I melted the chocolate and topped my cakes, but many of them remelted and made a kind of marbled jelly-chocolate topping. Which is why you’re only getting to see a few of them!

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Out of the twelve, these were the few that looked at least-half decent.

Luckily, they taste delightful! I’m sure if I did them again I’d be much more successful due to learning from the failings I have had this time around, and adapting. I have also been thinking that the dark chocolate in this recipe may be vital due to the higher melting point from it being made up of cocoa solids, whereas white uses only cocoa butter.

I still decided to go through with this post, though, to prove that not everything goes right all the time, and to show how these challenges work out for someone who is not one of the “12 best amateur bakers in Britain”.

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I look forward to this week’s!

Kirsten xo

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