Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Giant Jaffa Cake: Recipe and Philosophy

Inspired by my friend Madame Jo Grey's impressively accurate giant French Fancy (baked for her daughter's 2nd birthday last year), I decided to attempt a similar feat with the humble jaffa cake. Like most sweet-toothed Brits, my other half Ant is a big fan of the jaffa cake and I loved the idea of presenting him with a home-baked giant version for his birthday. After much pondering and a little online research, I settled upon the method below - a mixture of existing recipes, intuition and my own invention. I was rather pleased with the result, which you can see pictured here (next to a standard jaffa cake to demonstrate scale).

The Giant Jaffa Cake was served at Ant's birthday party last night and became the subject of much admiration and discussion as it sat waiting to be eaten all evening. But the proof is in the pudding as they say, and I am happy to report that there was a big thumbs up all round from our guests, who scoffed the lot enthusiastically within minutes of it being cut.

Giant Jaffa Cake Recipe

Equipment & Ingredients

  • Wok or large curved frying pan (make sure this will fit in the oven), lined with greaseproof paper
  • Curved breakfast plate or shallow dish
  • Note: the wok/frying pan is to make the base and the plate will be the mold for the jelly, so make sure the two are the right proportions in relation to each other to create a convincing jaffa cake.
For the jaffa cake base:
225g unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
200g self raising flour
25g cornflour

For the jaffa cake topping:

Jar of shredless marmalade
Packet of orange or tropical fruit flavoured vegetarian jelly crystals (available from any good healthfood store)
150ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate, broken into small chunks


Preheat the oven to 180〬c/gas mark 4

Cream the butter and sugar together, by hand or in a mixer, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time. As spoonful of flour between eggs will stop the mixture from curdling. When well combined, add the rest of the flour and the cornflour and finally a little milk to bring the mixture to a sticky batter consistency.

Pour the mixture into the lined frying pan or wok and check after 25 minutes. Use a cocktail stick to see if it is cooked through - if it comes out with cake mix on it you'll know it's still raw in the middle and will need to give it a bit longer. When's it's done it should look golden brown and feel springy to the touch. At this point, remove from the oven and leave in the wok on a rack for 10 minutes or so before carefully turning out the cake to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the jelly using half the amount of recommended liquid. Because I could only find tropical flavour vegetarian jelly, I made it up with a mixture of orange juice and water (boiled together). Add a dollop of orange marmalade to get that extra tanginess and mix with a fork until everything has dissolved. Pour into the plate or shallow dish, leave to cool then put in the fridge to set.

When both bits of the giant jaffa cake are cool, carefully slice the top off the cake to make a flat surface for the jelly. Mix a tablespoon of marmalade with a little freshly boiled water to make a paste. Brush this onto the centre of the cake where the jelly will go and leave to go sticky. Now comes the tricky bit. Carefully lift the cake and turn it upside down, lowering onto the plate of jelly. Holding both bits together firmly, turn the cake back over and hopefully the jelly will come loose. You may need to do a little adjusting to get it to sit centrally on the cake.

And now for the chocolate topping. Rather than using unadulterated melted chocolate - which is difficult to spread neatly and may melt the jelly - I prefer to use a ganache icing, which goes on cool and is much easier to spread. Pour the cream into a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the vanilla, butter and chocolate. Bring to the boil, agitating as you go to stop the chocolate pieces clumping. As soon as the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and whisk until thick and glossy.

Allow the icing to cool for 10 minutes or so, whisking occasionally to keep it smooth and making sure it doesn't start to set. Using a spatula or palette knife (I use the scraper that came with my Kenwood Chef), dollop the icing onto the cake, starting at the top of the jelly and spreading around evenly, working your way down in stages and making sure not to let it drip onto the underneath of the cake. Smooth everything over as much as possible, then use the side of your spreader to mark lines across the top in a criss-cross pattern. Go in opposite directions for each line to get the best effect.

Pop the cake in the fridge to set, then serve with pride.

Thanks and credit are due to my culinary guru Nigella Lawson whose baking bible How to Be a Domestic Goddess proved an invaluable resource in the development of the Giant Jaffa Cake.

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