Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Have your jaffa cake… and eat it

There’s a special place in heaven, I think, for people who make home-made jaffa cakes.

More sponge, more jelly and more chocolate… they taste as though the packet variety shouldn’t exist – not that I have anything against the ubiquitous McVities Jaffa Cakes and other similar own-brand examples from supermarkets, mind you. A phrase often heard about the house of a weekend afternoon is, “gone, throw us out the packet of jaffas there, if yous starvos haven’t et them all.”

I ate three of these (the ones in the picture) on Saturday with a cup of coffee and a big smile and I tell no lie, if the sky had started falling down, I’d have finished my afternoon treat before I went outside to look. To a morsel, they were delicious and I would and could have eaten far more, if there were any left, which there weren’t. It was a limited batch, you see and three was the entire allocation for me, the greedy batch.


Nor can I take any credit for these wonderful creations. The budding baker in the house, Sarah Grace, insisted that she fire up a batch (there’s that word again) after spotting someone on the telly making them.

“God, it must be great having your own live-in baker,” a friend suggested after I sent her a pic of the jaffas.

And yes, while this situation does have its gastronomic upsides (Sarah also made a sensational carrot cake last week with pecans and a tangerine and cream cheese icing), the increase in my consumption of these super bakes isn’t helping with my waistline management. In fact, they are most definitely working against my waistline management. Maybe I need a live-in personal trainer too.

Did you know that McVities reduced the number of jaffas in their boxes a couple of years ago? They did.

They went from 12 to 10 and I for one was not amused. I mean, I could put away a dozen without breaking a sweat – and even when I was breaking a sweat. I long ago discovered that jaffa cakes are good fuel for runners, you see and so you can picture me jogging along, grinning away as I was chugging down jaffa cakes, like I was out on day release. The only downside was that the chocolate tended to melt during a run since I was carrying the jaffas in close proximity to my body.

“You can’t have your jaffa cake and eat it, Michael.”


Actually, I can. So long as there’s waistline management on the go like only being allowed an allocation of three when the first born makes them from scratch.


Much discussion ensued too on Saturday as the jaffas were being planned. Sarah was insisting on milk chocolate and I on dark.

“They’re my jaffa cakes,” she said, trying to be stern. I say, ‘trying’ because, God love her, she can’t really do stern. She only does sunshine.

“They’re my jaffa cakes and I can do them whatever way I like,” she insisted, after I laughed at her and her attempted stern.

“This is my house,” I reminded her. “You have to do at least three jaffa cakes with dark chocolate or you can find another place to live.”

Hence, the batch of three.

Anyway, this is Sarah’s recipe for home-made jaffa cakes. It’s one she adapted from a recipe she found online. More sponge, more jelly, more DARK chocolate…

1 pack of orange jelly
150ml of boiling water
the zest of one small tangerine
butter for greasing
1 egg
30g of caster sugar
1 drop of vanilla extract
30g of self-raising flour
200g of DARK chocolate

Start by making the jelly. Break the block into pieces and place in a small bowl. Pour over the boiling water and stir until all is dissolved. Add the zest and stir again and then pour this out into a shallow baking tray, ideally 20cm x 30cm. Retire to the fridge to set.

When that’s set, pre-heat the oven to 155C and grease a 12 hole shallow bun tray with the butter.

Get the electric whisk out if you have one and whisk the sugar and egg and that single drop of vanilla in a larger bowl for a couple of minutes until fluffy. Gently fold through the flour and then using a tablespoon, divide the mixture between the 12 greased holes.

Retire the tray to the oven for eight minutes. At this time check that the tiny sponges are springy when pressed. If not, give them another minute and check again.

When baked to miniature perfection, remove to a wire rack to cool. When cooled, remove the set jelly from the fridge and, using a cookie cutter, cut out discs of the jelly and place on each of the mini sponges. Sarah says it’s handier to cut the jelly straight from the tray instead of trying to turn it out.

That done, melt the chocolate either in the microwave or over a pot of simmering water and then spoon this melted chocolate over the cakes.

You don’t have to make any pattern on top but if you’re feeling energetic, wait until you’ve covered all the cakes with the chocolate and using a fork, touch up the chocolate with the tines to make the lines.

Allow the jaffa cakes to cool completely before putting the tea or coffee on.

And no, I didn’t try any of the milk chocolate ones. I’m not on day release just yet.

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