Ode to a Jaffa Cake

Genoise sponge sandwiched with orange curd and covered in chocolate glacage

I had a very clear idea of how I wanted this post to look.  I envisioned a pristine square of sharp-edged sponge with the kind of glossy finish that you can see your face in.  Something, in essence, that wouldn’t look out of place in a top end French Patisserie window (I was even poised with my 22 carat gold leaf!).  I first made this cake last year, not long after we returned from our holiday (in France…yes, again) when I was inspired by the beautiful creations that the French excel at.  Those patisseries; mon dieu!  Overall, I was really pleased with the result.  It tasted good… it just didn’t look like my vision.

Seville oranges on a plate

Fast forward several months and I’ve started my long-awaited blog (long-awaited by me at least) so of course I wanted to have another crack at perfecting my Ode to a Jaffa Cake. The issue was the chocolate glaze – or glacage – that needed to be shiny and perfect. I’d seen the programme, I knew what I had to do. The wonderful American tv chef assured me that she used this particular recipe again and again and it looked stunning: dark as night and shiny as a star. Okay, the ingredients of powdered gelatin, cocoa, cream and sugar didn’t sound as appealing as the one I’d previously used, but I trusted this woman. She had honest smiling eyes. This was going to be a winner…

Cakes being covered in chocolate glacage on a rack

Looks ain’t everything

I guess what I have realised is that, despite my aspirations to share appetising and beautiful food on this blog, I want to remain faithful to what I’ve always maintained; that I prefer food to taste delicious than look pretty. And, when I think back, I have occasionally been disappointed by the taste of fussy-looking food, even from those afore-mentioned stunning patisseries.

Piece of cake resting on a fork

So, yes, you can make chocolate glacage with a quite incredible consistency that dries to a firm jelly shine. But, quite frankly, it would be to the huge detriment of the taste.  It really is quite revolting.
Instead, I have used a delicious ganache-based glaze that, I believe, does justice to the compliment I mean to pay the humble jaffa cake. I found the recipe as part of a William Curley Cake in Delicious Magazine http://www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk/pdf-download/williamcurleycake.pdf

Orange juice in small stove pot

Juice for the syrup

So, back to the subject at hand:-

I suppose everybody is familiar with the ‘5:2’ diet by now – or ‘Intermittent Fasting’. Maybe I shouldn’t make this sweeping assumption…but if you’re not familiar you have probably at least heard of the term.  Yes?  In any case, it simply involves consuming a limited number of calories for two days a week: 500 for women and 600 for men.  The rest of the time you just eat ‘normally’. It’s supposed to make you lose weight but also be healthy and live longer – hurrah!

As a life-long foodie I can’t say that calorie counting has ever been in my consciousness and couldn’t tell you how many calories were in a banana, Mars bar or jacket potato.  It just wasn’t on my radar.

Over the past year, however, my husband and I have (for various reasons) remained pretty faithful to this way of eating and have felt much better as a result.  (I should add that it’s also supposed to be a healthy practice for domestic animals too, but our cat, Beryl, remains unconvinced and refuses to even give it a try…stubborn animal.)

Over this period we’ve discovered wonderful little snacks for getting through ‘fasting’ days, but what has been our particular saviour in darker moments is the lil’ old Jaffa Cake. We inevitably crave something sweet in the evenings and a mug of tea (with skimmed milk, of course) is just too wet on its own!  They’re a perfect little hit of juicy sweetness, mellowed against a satisfying sponge and the thinnest layer of dark-ish chocolate.  At 46 calories they just take the edge off and stop us feeling deprived. I don’t know what we’d have done without them!

Seville orange curd in jar with spoon

Sharp and tangy seville orange curd

Now that I have left this intriguing phase behind me (for now, at least) I remain a devotee of these tasty little morsels and so wanted to share a pimped up version here. You’ll be delighted to hear that it is as equally low in calories as the original…though that doesn’t necessarily make it true. Never mind, it’s worth the extra calorific currency.

I wanted to make use of the wonderfully sharp Seville oranges that have been in season, by sandwiching a punchy orange curd between two layers of genoise sponge and covering with a shiny chocolate glaze.  Genoise sponge tends to be the base for much French pâtisserie (despite it being an Italian cake) being very light and quite dry, as not much fat is used.  For this reason it keeps quite well, although syrup is often employed as a moistener, as well as flavour injector.

Genoise sponge on wooden board

Genoise sponge is a perfect base for this cake

My go-to recipe for genoise sponge is adapted from this one from the joy of baking (http://www.joyofbaking.com/ChocolateGenoise.html).  Although theirs is a chocolate sponge it’s easy to substitute for a plain vanilla and I just add whichever flavours are called for each time (orange zest, in this instance).  I use a slightly different method for combining the melted butter though, which is much easier and just as effective.

Genoise Sponge Ingredients:

  •        4 large eggs
  •        135g caster sugar
  •        90g plain flour
  •        ¼ tsp salt
  •        42g melted unsalted butter
  •        1 tsp vanilla paste
  •        Zest of 2 oranges

Orange syrup

  •       Juice of 2 oranges (from the ones you zested above)
  •       2 tbsp caster sugar

Seville Orange Curd (adapted from www.greatbritishkitchen.co.uk recipe for Orange Curd)

  •        Juice and zest of 4 Seville Oranges
  •        225g caster sugar
  •        3 egg yolks, beaten
  •        110g unsalted butter

Chocolate Glaze

  •        175ml whipping cream
  •        33g caster sugar
  •        26g liquid glucose
  •        100g dark chocolate

The orange curd can be made in advance and kept refrigerated until needed.

Here’s the method:

Seville Orange Curd

Cut the butter into small cubes and place in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (bain marie) with the remaining ingredients.  Melt over a low heat until all the ingredients are combined and cook for approximately 20 minutes.  The mixture will have thickened and should coat the back of a spoon (a term often used when making custard; basically it should be thick enough to hold a finger-drawn line on the back of a wooden spoon).  Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Can be kept refrigerated for up to a month.

Chocolate Glaze

Heat the cream, sugar and glucose in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

While it’s heating up, chop the chocolate finely and place in a bowl.  When the cream and sugar has come to the boil pour it over the chocolate and stir well until it’s a thick sauce. Use immediately, or warm it through just before you need to use it.

Genoise Sponge

Line a 20cm square tin and pre-heat your oven to 180 deg C/160 deg C (Fan).

Melt the butter and leave to one side until needed.

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a heat-proof bowl then place them over a saucepan of barely simmering water and continue whisking for about three minutes. Make sure the mixture doesn’t get too hot – it needs to be barely warm.

Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a stand mixer, if you have one, or just go in with an electric hand whisk if not.

Whisk for another five minutes or so, until it has tripled in volume and cooled. You want to get as much air into the mixture as possible as this is the only means of getting the lightness you want (no raising agents are added).

When the mixture is pale and light, beat in the vanilla paste and orange zest, then remove the bowl from the mixer.

Sieve the flour into the mixture in three stages, folding it in carefully each time.

Finally, pour the melted butter down the side of the bowl so that it dribbles lightly into the mixture then fold it in thoroughly but gently. You want to keep the consistency light and fluffy. Please note that you will inevitably lose some of the air; this doesn’t matter as it’s more important that you scrape right down to the bottom of the bowl to incorporate every trace of flour and melted butter.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cake will turn slightly golden and start to come away from the edge of the pan.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Orange Syrup

While the cake is in the oven, pour the juice of the two oranges into a small saucepan and add the sugar. Reduce the mixture to about a quarter of its original volume, until it gets to a slightly syrupy consistency – approximately 30 minutes (although this depends on the pan you use). Don’t overdo it, because the syrup will continue to thicken as it cools.

Genoise sponge orange curd sandwiches

Cut, drizzled and slathered with curd

Now you have each of the components ready, the rest is just an assembly job:

Slice the sponge in half horizontally, then drizzle the orange syrup evenly over each sponge. Leave it to soak in slightly before placing each half back together again. Cut the square into nine equally sized smaller squares (three rows of three) and make an orange curd sandwich with each of them. Spread the curd thickly onto the base so you get a good amount of orangey tang in the finished cake.

Arrange the squares on a wire rack and place the rack over a baking tin (to catch the chocolate glaze that drips off).

Warm the chocolate glaze in a small saucepan and whisk until runny and smooth.

Ladle the chocolate glaze over each square until fully covered.

Genoise sponge jaffa cake squares on a rack

Final stage – all chocolated up and ready for action

Et voila! Nine perfectly delicious Jaffa Cake sponge cakes! Bon appetit!

Jaffa Cake Square cut in half

Take a look inside

2 thoughts on “Ode to a Jaffa Cake

  1. Jane Chandler (Mumma)

    Well, I’ve had my post-5:2-day slice of this exquisite yumminess you generously left for me (lucky old me to get to taste your creations firsthand, eh!). And now I’ve been so enjoying the fabulous photography of the stages along the way of the bake – almost as good as eating it. I confess I hadn’t realised that you were quite this talented at photography, but what do I know??! I’m just your Mum… First class, luv. I reckon you should contact The BBC, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood to suggest this baking creation as one of the next contestants’ challenges, as there’s so many stages to it. Better still, I think you could show ’em how it’s done!! Just delicious, 5* .

    1. Mandy Post author

      Ahh you’re too generous mum – thanks so much for your glowing praise 😉 I’m glad you enjoyed it…I remembered afterwards that you’re not too keen on the chocolate/orange combo so extra koodos there!! And haha re the bake-off comment; baking under pressure would take all the fun out of it! (but thanks for the compliment). p.s. it sounds more complicated than it is – you could do it no problem!

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