The last time I was in Britain there was a flap over the use of the phrase “Jaffa Cake.” McVities, the biscuit company who introduced the original Jaffa Cakes in 1927, neglected to trademark the name and thus it was open for others to use.
I adore Jaffa Cakes–small disks of sponge cake topped with orange jelly and a cover of chocolate–so when a friend asked me to bring a dessert for Easter dinner, I had an inspiration for a super-sized version of my little favorites. But don’t call it a “Jaffa” cake…I don’t want an infringement lawsuit slapped on me!
For those with celiac disease, this is a gluten-free cake.
Don’t Call It a “Jaffa” Cake
Makes 10-14 servings (depending on how you slice it)
- 10 1/4″ springform pan (see Notes for downsizing to a 9″ pan)
- 9 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 – 1/8 cups white sugar
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1.5 tsp grated orange zest (Jaffa, Cara Cara, or Heirloom Naval oranges work best)
- a pinch of salt
- 1.5 cups ground almonds (see Notes for homemade method)
- 1.5 cups fine-ground polenta/cornmeal (see Notes for homemade method)
- 6 oz orange marmalade
- 6 oz chocolate dessert topping (see Notes)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Grease the sides of the springform pan with butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper (see Notes for tip).
Batter Part One
- With a stand- or hand-mixer, whip the butter on high speed until soft but not whipped.
- Beat in half the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Beat in the yolks, one at a time, letting each one incorporate into the mixture before adding the next.
- Add the orange zest.
- Add the ground almonds.
- Set the mixture aside.
Egg White Whip
- In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites and pinch of salt until they hold a very soft peak
- Whip in the remaining sugar gradually. The sugar will debond the mixture, so continue to whip it all until the mixture once more holds a very soft peak.
Batter Part Two
- Using the following method, add the egg whites and cornmeal to the batter:
- Fold one quarter of the egg whites into the batter.
- Sift one third of the cornmeal over the batter and fold in.
- Add another quarter of the egg whites.
- Alternate cornmeal and egg whites in this fashion, ending with the last of the egg whites.
Baking and Topping
- Pour the batter (it will be fairly thick) to the prepared pan and bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven, and let it cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.
- Pop the sides of the springform, invert the cake onto a parchment-lined rack, and let it finish cooling.
- Turn right side up and top with the orange marmalade in a fairly thin, even coat.
- Gently heat up the chocolate topping (if needed) and drizzle, pour, or spoon it on top of the marmalade (see Notes).
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- You can downsize this recipe to a 9″ springform pan by reducing all ingredients by 1/3 (e.g., use 4 eggs instead of 6).
- Most bulk food sections at the better grocers will have ground almonds, but if you can’t find it (or if it’s too pricey), you can make them at home (I’ve done this myself, and it’s easy). Blanch 2 cups whole almonds and slip the skins off. Then put them on a cookie sheet and toast in the over for 10-15 minutes at 325°F. Let them cool, and then grind them in a food processor with a metal blade. It’s more a “meal” than a flour, due to the oil in the almonds, but it works perfectly.
- Most bulk food sections will have a fine-ground cornmeal, but if not, you can take regular polenta or cornmeal and buzz it for a bit in a food processor to get it a little finer. In a pinch, you can use regular polenta/cornmeal, but it makes for a grittier texture.
- You can use any type of chocolate topping you prefer, from a more liquid topping (like Hershey’s Syrup) to a pre-made chocolate frosting. My preferred topping is Dilettante Dark Chocolate Truffle Topping (comes in a 10.5 oz jar). You can make your own tempered chocolate if you want, but I prefer to leave that to experts.)
- Rather than try to cut a parchment paper to fit the bottom of the circular pan, I just took a big piece and clamped it to the bottom using the springform sides. This leaves a “skirt” of parchment paper sticking out to the sides, which I just sliced off with a sharp knife.
- This recipe is a variation of my original version, which I reverse-engineered from the movie, Dinner with Friends, starringDennisQuaid and Andie MacDowell. Fifteen years ago, when the movie came out, no one had ever heard of an Almond Polenta Cake, but now they’re all over the place. For the original version (yummy in its own right) make the following changes:
- Use lemon zest instead of orange zest.
- Replace the marmalade/chocolate topping with a simple sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar.