The Jaffa Cake Challange

Okay, so, I’m probably stealing the idea from Anne @ Mud Splattered Boots, but I have to say that it was her March In My Kitchen post that laid down the gauntlet. Quite unintentionally, of course. You see, she mentioned her giant homemade Jaffa cakes….

Maybe I should backtrack a bit here and explain to those of you unlucky not to have Jaffa cakes available in your local supermarket. Jaffa cake is a brand name for a wonderful cookie-like cake topped with a layer of jellied orange covered in dark chocolate. They are produced here in the UK by the McVitie company in Stockport, an industrial suburb of Manchester. They were first introduced by the company in the late 1920s and have been immensely popular since. Their name comes from the Jaffa orange, a sweet seedless orange developed by Palestinian farmers in the mid-19th century and named after the city where it was originally exported.

jaffa_oranges_exportedCouldn’t resist this image:
Export of oranges from Jaffa in the 1930s.
Public Domain Image from Wikipedia.

For me, they are addictive sweets that I try desperately to resist. Normally I avoid store-bought sweets and cakes like the plague – avoiding all those chemical additives, unhealthy fats and sugars, and the consequent poundage on my hips. If I want something sweet, I will make it at home, thus keeping a check on the ingredients and ensuring a moderate intake. But, every once in a while, the devil on my shoulder whispers “go ahead, buy them” and I discover a packet of Jaffa cakes in my supermarket trolley.

So, when Anne mentioned making Jaffa cakes, I wondered if I could also make my own – a self-induced challange. My recipe is a simple Genoese cake base made in my shallow tart/bun tins topped with a dollop of thickened homemade orange marmalade with a coat of chocolate granache. Simple. Don’t worry, although the devil on my shoulder was whispering “go ahead, eat as many as you like”, the angel on my other shoulder won. More than half were packaged and sent out to friends. It is always satisfying to spead the joy – and to keep tempation at bay.


Homemade Jaffa Cakes

  • 95g caster sugar
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs (see note below)
  • 95g plain (all-purpose) flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 litre jar of orange marmalade (homemade preferable)
  • 60g (or millititre) double (heavy) cream
  • 120g dark chocolate

Makes approximately 20 to 22

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. (non-fan assisted). Prepare the shallow bun trays by buttering and dusting with flour.

In an electric mixer, blend the butter and sugar. Add an egg at a time, mixing each at a high speed before adding the next. When all 3 eggs have been added, continue mixing at a high speed until the mixture is pale and slightly frothy. Gradually add the flour and the pinch of salt at a lower speed until it is mixed into a smooth batter.

Spoon the batter (approximately 1 Tablespoon at a time) into the cups – half way to the top. Bake for 10-12 minutes.


Let the cakes cool for about 1 minute in their tins. Lightly run a knife around the edge and lift out the cakes. Place them on a rack and let them cool completely.


Meanwhile, tip your jar of marmalade into a heavy bottom pot and bring it up to heat, boiling until it becomes quite thick and the orange strips are caramalised. Allow it to cool completely. Of course, if you make your own homemade marmalade, this might have already happened. One of my batches from last year overcooked and this recipe seemed a perfect use for it.


Take about a teaspoon of the cool marmalade on top of each of the little cakes.


Make the chocolate topping by first finely chopping the chocolate. It is best to use a good quality chocolate. I used a 70% chocolate, but many might find this a bit to bitter. My littlest taste-tester (age 6) registered this crtique on the chocolate. So, it is best to use what you like! Set this aside while you heat (or microwave) the cream until just before boiling. Put the hot cream in a heat resistent bowl and add the chocolate pieces. Stir until the chocolate has completely melted. In order to keep the topping warm, place the bowl in a another larger bowl of hot water. Using a brush – and silicone works well here – dab and paint on a layer of chocolate over the marmalade and cake. Apply a second coat once all the cakes have been covered to use up the chocolate. Or, simply spoon a little chocolate over each marmalade topped cake.


Note (and a little rant) on units of measurement:
Baking is more precise than other forms of cooking. I think that for cakes this is particularly true. A Genoise cake, a standard type cake that is a bit firmer and drier than sponge cake, has regular weight ratio of ingredients: 1 unit flour, 1 unit sugar, 1.5 to 2 units of eggs (without shell) and 0.2 to 0.4 units of butter. It occured to me to make a note of this because eggs are labeled in different sizes and (to confuse matters more) those sizes differ by country. For example, a large British egg (63-73g with shell) is actually an extra-large Australian or US egg. Note, also, that the weight of the shell – to be excluded in the measuements – is generally 13% of the total egg weight. Everything is done by the universal standard metric weight! And, there is a good reason for this. For example, take the case of the tablespoon, a non-metric unit of (volume) measurement. In the US it is 15ml (well, actually 14.7867648438ml), but a British imperial tablespoon is 18ml (17.7581714ml) and even larger in Ausralia at 20ml (exactly – no decimal points to confuse matters). Of course, we are talking about level tablespoons here – none of those imprecise “heaped” or “rounded” spoons that sometimes feature in recipes. Of course, there are always those “pinches” which defy conversion.


    • Definitely inspired by those IMK post – plus, I love writing them. These little cakes are good, but also easy to put together. McVities certainly new a good thing when they came up with them.


  1. Today the temperature dropped to 12c, which is most unseasonal for Autumn in Melbourne, giving rise to thoughts about baking, especially something like these gorgeous little Jaffa Cakes. And a great way to use up the supplies of marmalade.


    • Just tried your little marmalade filled almond cakes – also a good way to use up that marmalade. Liked they way you described their “bitter hearts” in the post. More marmalade from 2014 to go…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Definitely need to use up the old stock since I really couldn’t help myself and made MORE this year. Those Sevilles are always so tempting and they are only around for a short time. Next year it will be a different story. Greek friends tell me that you really can’t find Sevilles there, so perhaps I will need to experiment with lemons, or even blood oranges or bergmots. Wonder what Jaffa cakes would taste like with bergmot marmalade?


  2. Good stuff! I’ll have to be doing something like this. I too can be partial to a Jaffa cake, but these look like way more than a step above the shop bought version!


  3. These look good! Yours look much better with a little cream added to the chocolate topping – mine were a bit hard and brittle without. I enjoyed your ‘notes’ – I have to weigh my eggs as my hens and ducks lay such a range. Currently, one of my hens is laying 99g eggs – and she’s not even a very large hen, poor thing.


    • I hope you don’t mind me referring back to your post! It is a great idea. I had to look up the egg sizes/weights on the internet. It seems there is an industry standard range for each size. However, if you get your eggs fresh, I can see that it isn’t quite that simple. 99g from a small chicken? Not really something I want to contemplate, but I hope she copes. Indeed, poor dear!


  4. Brilliant – this is something I have been meaning to do forever because I have always known the McVities version can be improved upon – and now I shall do it … soon … probably for Easter πŸ™‚


    • Something for all that ultra thick marmalade. That goes along with your ways of using up syrupy non-gelled orange marmalade with red cabbage or stewed with rhubarb. Why is it that the perfect set is sometimes elusive? Luckily, this year’s batches were pretty close to perfection. Just need to use up the overcooked 2014 marmalade.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jaffa cakes used to be one of the Yaks fave store purchased indulgences. These look delicious KW, I enjoyed your wee ‘rant’ as well! 😁


    • Isn’t the Yak a good Manchester boy? Definitely would pair him with Jaffa Cakes. Probably got them right from the source. They are definitely good. Think you might be able to come up with a GF version?

      Liked by 1 person

      • He is from the Lakes District, a town called Ulverston so Jaffa cakes were certainly a fave for this northern lad. I really think I am going to have to do a gf version as he really, really, loved them. Better make them and send them Over? If only…ha! 😁


    • They are so easy to do! A nice treat, but not exactly the same as commercial ones. First – thick marmalade instead of a jelly, then a thicker coating of chocolate. However, they do have a similar taste. Orange and chocolate go so well together.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Agree on the rant (though I think for baking bread, being precise is overrated). In some SF stores I’ve seen spoons with measures such as ‘pinch’ and ‘smidgen’. Cute but not very useful. Also, I have seen Rose Levy Berenbaum go the other way on precision, talking not just about a cup of water but a scant cup of water. Then the question arises…how scant is scant? It never ends.


    • Those measuring spoons with scant and pinch are cute, but you are right – useless! Why not simply pinch that salt? Cakes are especially prone to exact measurements and that is why I’ve converted many of my American recipes to weight rather than cup, etc. However, I must admit that when I first started this blog, I used American measures and now am going back (in a rather random way) and converting everything. Time consuming!


  7. I had completely forgotten about the McVities Jaffa cakes, which I enjoyed when I was an exchange student in Scotland. (That was SO long ago I could eat tons of them and not gain weight.) I will have to try your recipe. BTW, I thought of you when we were in New Orleans recently, where there is a cookbook store called Kitchen Witch!


    • Like you, I was only introduced to them here in the UK – and so very addictive. Hmmm…am trying to contemplate a time when I could eat as many as I like and not add on the pounds. Nope, never happened. Fancy seeing a cookbook shop in New Orleans with that name, and it nice that you thought of me. Love New Orleans. I bet you were in foodie heaven. Enjoy your homemade Jaffa Cakes!


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