Where it all began: Series 7 Episode 1 Cake Week Technical Challenge: Jaffa Cakes

I never set out to cook the entire Bake Off – because that would be absolute madness in the term I returned to full time teaching after a major operation, wouldn’t it? I just found myself…..having a go. 

I’d been a huge fan of the show since Series 1, applied a few times and got tantalisingly close to the final 12 on more than one occasion. Just going through the process had made me a better baker and inspired me to tackle new challenges. But at this point, I hadn’t baked that many recipes from the show itself.

The first technical challenge of the 2016 series was Jaffa Cakes. I’d never even thought of making my own Jaffa Cakes, but as soon as I saw the contestants have a go – with varying degrees of success – I knew it had to be done.  The very next day. . 

And so it begins…….

So the following morning saw me straight round to the corner shop for a packet of orange jelly – which did seem a bit like cheating, but who am I to argue with Mary Berry’s recipe? The technical challenges go onto the Bake Off website on, or shortly after, the day of transmission, and this one didn’t seem too complicated. A light-as-air fatless sponge, topped with a disk of zest- enhanced orange jelly and smothered with a thick coat of dark chocolate. The trickiest part was probably getting the chocolate temperature right. Too warm would mean messy overspill, too thick and it wouldn’t spread.

I was fairly happy with the end result –  I could see the distinct layers (that’ll be “lairs” in Mary Berry speak) and got pretty close to the characteristic criss-cross pattern on the top.

jaffa side

My “lairs” – light, airy sponge base, tangy orange jelly centre, and thick dark chocolate coating.

And it turned that I wasn’t the only one inspired by the episode. Always satisfying to steal a head start on your sister…. jaffa quote

So that was it. Job done. Jaffa cakes made. A pleasant diversion for the last days of the school holidays. Who knew that this was just the start of a major obsession which would take over my life  for the next three months…and in fact, much of the next three years. The apparently innocent Jaffa Cake turned out to be just the gateway drug for something much more  – a life-dominating, game-changing, all-consuming addiction. Starting with the rest of cake week…..