Stop the clocks: I have found the world’s best baking recipe. That’s a big claim, I know, but it’s been endorsed by ten sweet-toothed gamer geeks, who snaffled down the cakes I sent them last weekend in seconds. And it was very easy. In fact, I am ashamed to admit that after ten years of baking for these people, the cakes that hit the big time were actually made almost solo by Munchkin. Yes, I have been outshone by a two year old. I think I’ll stick to baking history and leave the actual baking to him in future.
The title of this post leaves no mystery as to what these amazing cakes were: Jaffa Cakes. These, as all Brits know, really are cakes and not biscuits despite appearances, this having been established in the courts after a VAT-related battle (cakes are zero-rated for VAT; chocolate covered biscuits are not). Jaffa Cakes are actually not the only confections to have been subjected to this sort of debate. A tax lawyer friend sent me part of the ruling on another British teatime icon, the Snowball, which is so funny that you’ll have to permit me a brief digression:
“53. A snowball looks like a cake. It is not out of place on a plate full of cakes. A snowball has the mouth feel of a cake. Most people would want to enjoy a beverage of some sort whilst consuming it. It would often be eaten in a similar way and on similar occasions to cakes; for example to celebrate a birthday in an office. We are wholly agreed that a snowball is a confection to be savored but not whilst walking around or, for example, in the street. Most people would prefer to be sitting when eating a snowball and possibly, or preferably, depending on background, age, sex etc with a plate, a napkin or a piece of paper or even just a bare table so that the pieces of coconut which fly off do not create a great deal of mess. Although by no means everyone considers a snowball to be a cake we find that these facts, in particular, mean that a snowball has sufficient characteristics to be characterized as a cake.”
A Snowball (image from an article about the ruling at the guardian.com)
Don’t you just love the idea of a set of learned lawyers discussing these sorts of issues? Thanks for the note, Zoe 🙂
But back to Jaffa Cakes. These home-made once are certainly in the cake camp, and the recipe is actually from a vegan baking book, Ms Cupcake’s The Naughtiest Vegan Cakes in Town which I had borrowed from the library after reading about the author’s cupcakery in Brixton. I’m not vegan myself but I have sympathies in that direction and was interested to find out more about the bakery. This recipe leaped out as one to try (one particularly good thing about vegan recipes is that they are ideally suited to days when you have no eggs in the fridge). Plus, home-made Jaffa Cakes – well, need I say more?
I’d made them once already when it came to The Scientist’s regular gaming session – none survived for long enough to be photographed that time after meeting the ladies from my book group, so we knew they were a winner. Since it’s such an easy recipe, and with no eggs to crack, I weighed everything out, put the ingredients in separate pots, and let Munchkin get on with it. He stirred beautifully and did a good job of putting the batter into greased cupcake tins (he did want a bit of help there). They bake quickly, and once they are cool enough, just need (and this is the inspired and time-saving part) a small dollop of marmalade on top of each one, and a good coating of melted chocolate and margarine. I did help with those bits too, but he did all the melting and stirring. Both times the cake came out with quite pointy tops; last time I trimmed them off to make a flatter base; this time I didn’t bother and it wasn’t a problem.
So as I say, the world’s best recipe. They are small, soft, orangey, chocolatey, and so easy a two year old can baked them almost unaided. We put them in the fridge overnight to make the chocolate topping a bit more robust (as suggested in the recipe) as The Scientist needed to transport them in a tin. We also tested a couple newly be-chocolated and they were amazing. I have a feeling they will be called for at every gaming session from now on, and in the meantime, I think a trip to Brixton might be in order….;)