Saturday, 17 September 2011

National Cupcake Week: Jaffa (Cup) Cakes

There are some questions in life that deserve serious consideration.

Whether a Jaffa Cake is a cake or biscuit is one of these questions.

It was hotly debated back in 1991 when the taxman took McVities to court. Her Majesty's Customs and Excise argued Jaffa Cakes are actually biscuits and therefore ought to be taxed at the 17.5% biscuit rate. McVities disagreed. In possibly what must have been the tastiest ever court case for one lucky Judge, issues such as what happens when biscuits and cakes go stale were discussed. 

(Heck, in our house cakes and biscuits are gobbled up way before they get the chance to go remotely dry).

McVities then produced their masterstroke: a massive, ginormous Jaffa Cake to prove their point. I wonder which fortunate courtroom official got to dip that in a cup (or bucket) of tea?

Such debates were not only confined to the Courtroom; the Oxford English Dictionary similarly agonised when deciding how to describe the Jaffa Cake. 

Although McVities won the day in Court, and Jaffa Cakes remained, erm, cakes, a tabloid newspaper subsequently polled its readers who firmly declared that, in their opinion, a Jaffa Cake was most definately a biscuit. 

Why all this chat about Jaffa Cakes? Well, when tucking into one (okay, an entire container) the other day I had a cakebulb moment (like a lightbulb moment, but cake related). 

I'll have a go at a Jaffa Cake CupCake.

All in honour of this week's National Cupcake Week. A week that celebrates all things Cupcake. Some of my favourite baking bloggers have also been creating some crackin' cupcakes:

  • Chele from Chocolate Teapot made some brilliantly fun Percy Pig/Pumbaa Cupcakes. I really hope Chele got to enjoy the rest of the leftover Percy's as the ultimate baker's leftover treat
  • Meanwhile, over at the Chocolate Log Blog, Choclette made some delicious Ginger and Chocolate Cupcakes (with her own ginger and marrow jam!)
  • For some expert piping and decorating tips, pop along to Katie's glorious Katie Cakes blog- I defy you not to spend the next half hour falling in love with each beautiful post
  • Gem, from the aptly named Cupcake Crazy Gem has written a really great round-up of some of THE best places to grab yourself a cupcake to celebrate the week
  • @tracylovescake has been in the kitchen creating these delectable lemon cupcakes, one of my favourite cakey flavours

Jaffa Cupcakes


(for six Cupcakes)

For the cupcakes:

85g softened butter
85g caster sugar
Zest of one orange
1 large egg
100g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon orange extract

For the filling and topping:

Packet of orange jelly
2 teaspoons of marmalade

75g butter, softened
75g chocolate, melted
80g icing sugar
zest of one orange

To make the orange filling:
(this will need to be made in advance)
1. Make up the jelly according to the packet instructions, adding the marmalade when mixing the hot water and jelly together, stirring until completely combined
2. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish or baking tray (with sides!)and pop in the fridge until set

To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6.
2. Arrange six paper cupcake cases or six silicone cases on a baking tray
3. Using an electrical whisk, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until soft and fluffy. Add the zest, extract and egg and beat until throughly combined
4. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl and using a metal spoon fold into the mixture gently
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cases and bake for fifteen minutes until light brown in colour and an inserted skewer comes out clean
6. Cool on a wire rack
7. Once completely cool use a sharp knife to cut a shallow hole in the top of each cupcake, creating a small 'crater' in each cupcake
8. Use a sharp knife to cut six small circles in the jelly that will neatly fit inside the crater. Place one circle in each 'crater' of each cupcake
9. To make the icing: Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and pale. Mix in the melted chocolate  
10. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe on the cupcakes. Decorate with the orange zest

Baker's notes...

  • You'll have leftover jelly, which you get to eat (which will make you feel approximately five years old)
  • As with any cupcakes, best eaten within 48 hours and stored in an airtight container
  • Soo.....cake or biscuit?! Over to you..


  1. Brilliant invention, absolutely brilliant. I'm going to have CT clamouring for me to make these now, he loves Jaffa Cakes. I heard all about the Jaffa cake / biscuit case on the radio the other day - how Mcvities managed to wing it I don't really know, but it must have been a fun case to have been involved in. Thanks for including a link to my cupcake post.

  2. Should I admit that I've never had a jaffa cake?!?! So I feel totally unqualified to enter into the cake / biscuit debate. BUT cupcakes I do know about and these little guys like so tasty. Great round up too, defo going to pop over to the ones I haven't already seen ;0)

  3. This is really useful - I've had a request for a jaffa cake inspired bake...great stuff!

  4. lovely idea. Sounds really yummy. I am going to have to give this a try. Liking the pics too - very warm background

  5. OH no, Kate, I have lost notifications for you, so did not see this until I visited a Trifle Rushed.....will look into that!
    BUT anything that tastes like Jaffa Cakes has my vote and they look delicious! Hmm.....I think a Jaffa cake is a biscuit I think!

  6. I LOVE chocolate and orange together. These look and sound amazing.

  7. What a super cupcake. I have to say in my family we prefer the French version of Jaffa cakes, and it's not just because we love the shock on visitors' faces when my five year old says, 'Would you like a Pims, my favourite!'

  8. Whether a Jaffa Cake is a cake or biscuit, or a cookie???

    The recipe looks more like a biscuit recipe to me. If its a biscuit why did they decide to call it a cake? Must have been the lawyers idea for possibility of getting legal work later.

  9. What an interesting fun post Kate...I loved reading this and your Jaffa cupcake sounds delicious...I love citrusy deserts...

  10. Cakebulb moment - haha, that's brilliant! Call me weird but I don't really like Jaffa cakes, which makes no sense because I like all the individuals bits, just not together. These look yummy though, I'm sure I would like them in proper, debate free cake form!

  11. I love this post and those cupcakes sound fab. I think a new word should be invented to describe the jaffa cake, biscake or cakuit. Problem solved and now the tax office can decided whether you should pay VATon a biscake/cakuit.

  12. I had to indulge in a jaffa (or two) today thanks to this post. No willpower!

  13. Lovely!

    I reckon a Jaffa Cake is both. It's definitely a cake in terms of how you make the base part of it, but in my world is eaten like a biscuit (i.e. lots of them at a time....)

    I'm with the ordinary cook - biscake it is.

    (Jaffa cakes are quite fun to make, but a lot of a faff!)


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