Tea and a biscuit and ice cream and cake


Every afternoon, all over England, people sit down with a cup of tea and a biscuit. A daily reminder of Queen Victoria and and a long vanished empire, this ritual occupies a position of utmost social and cultural importance. It is a snack that defines a nation. However, when it comes to dessert, the English palate tends toward richer, sweeter, more indulgent treats. This is, after all, the nation that thinks nothing of enriching desserts with rendered beef fat, that reveres custard so much, the French named creme anglaise in their honor, and the nation that invented a tart so sugary we reference it when we call a sappy movie treacly.
To celebrate St. George’s Day, I wanted to make a dessert that combined these the English devotion to Camellia sinensis and their love of all things pudding. Tea and a biscuit that was suitable for afters, if you will. The Jaffa cake seemed like the ideal way to bridge the institutions. Either a biscuit or a cake, depending on who you ask, this often contentious treat is restrained enough for a snack, but elaborate enough to seem like dessert. The 2 Tasty Ladies are clearly passionate for marmalade and chocolate together, so I couldn’t help but be drawn to the marvelous little cookie. I borrowed the combination of sponge cake, chocolate, and “smashing orangey bit” to make my Messy Jaffas. Made with a fluffy genoise, and soaked with a mixture of marmelade and caramel, unlike original Jaffas, they are unequivicably cakes rather than biscuits. To go alongside, I made Earl Grey Ice Cream, essentially a frozen creme anglaise perfumed with the fragrant bergamot tea. Since it is, technically, both a snack and a dessert, I plan on having some this afternoon at four and again later after dinner. All to honor St. George, of course.

Earl Grey Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
8 egg yolks
7 ounces sugar
Zest from 1/2 an orange, peeled off in strips
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Earl Grey tea (or 7 tea bags)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Heat the milk, cream, tea, zest and vanilla over medium heat until it barely simmers, then set aside. Whisk the egg yolks until they lighten in color, then gradually add the sugar. Temper the eggs by adding about 1/3 of the hot milk, a little at a time, whisking well. Then, whisk the tempered egg mixture back into the pot. Cook over medium low heat until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, or until it reaches between 170 and 175 degrees. Set aside for 15 minutes to further infuse the flavor. Strain through a fine sieve. Refridgerate overnight with a sheet of plastic pressed over the custard to prevent a skin. The next day, freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions, then let remove the soft-set ice cream to a covered container and let it harden in the freezer for a few hours.
Messy Jaffas
For the smashing orangey bit
Cook 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup orange juice over medium heat until it reaches a dark amber color, being careful not to disturb the pan. Add 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Cook another three minutes, then remove from the heat. When it cools, stir together 1/2 cup of the caramel with 1/2 cup good quality marmelade, another teaspoon of lemon juice and 2 teaspoons of grated orange zest. Store in the refrigerator. This makes enough for two batches of Messy Jaffas, or the remainging orangey bit is great over ice cream or waffles.
For the sponge cake
(from Epicurious)
1/2 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
2 teaspoons Grand Marnier
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper, then butter paper.
Sift flour and salt into a bowl.
Heat eggs and sugar in a large metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water, gently whisking constantly, until lukewarm and sugar is dissolved.
Remove bowl from pot and add zest and liqueur, then beat with an electric mixer at high speed until very thick, pale, and tripled in volume (about 7 minutes in a stand mixer or 10 minutes with a handheld). If using a tall narrow bowl, transfer to a large wide bowl (to facilitate folding). Resift flour and salt over eggs in 2 batches, folding gently but thoroughly after each batch. Fold butter into about 1 cup batter in a small bowl until just combined, then fold butter mixture into remaining batter gently but thoroughly until just combined. Spread in buttered pan, smoothing top.
Bake cake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then run a thin knife between cake and side of pan and invert rack over cake. Flip cake onto rack and cool completely. Peel off paper.
To assemble
Cut 2-inch disks from the sponge, and place them on a rack over a sheet pan. Put a spoonful of orangey bit over each disk, letting it drip down the sides. Melt 3-4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a metal bowl over barely simmering water, removing the bowl to the counter frequently. Stir continually and, ideally, don’t let the chocolate go over 92 degrees (this is to preserve the bar’s original temper, but it’s not terrible if it gets warmer. The final coating just won’t be as gossy). Spoon some chocolate over each cake disk, and chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate sets.
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4 comments on “Tea and a biscuit and ice cream and cake
  1. tejal says:

    Ooh miss Martha, it appears you really have pimped my snack.
    I swear if highway 1 wasn’t closed due to the devil, mudslides and the cracking open of the earth (or whatever) I’d drive over there right now to taste the leftovers…

  2. Julie says:

    Oh yum! Homemade Jaffa cakes! I just finished a packet of the not-so-homemade type the other day,but I’d love to make them from scratch — and the ice-cream sounds simply sumptuous as well…

  3. Martha says:

    I’m pretty pleased with how they turned out. They keep getting better the longer they sit; the marmalade caramel has soaked into the sponge in a way that is very enjoyable.

  4. sam says:

    I, too, have been trying to develope a jaffa cake recipe. All my English work colleagues were in love with me the day I took them in for testing, but I need to try a couple more renditions before I am ready to share a recipe.
    Thank you for taking part in What’s for Pud so enthusiastically!

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