There’s something so iconic about a jelly cake - and my first Jelly cake experience brings me back to country Victoria and is symbolic of community and country kindness, and the depth of generosity that a heartfelt bake can bring.
I was only 10 years old and it was a neighbour, who the morning after our family lost our home in a house fire, brought over a tupperware container full of these to help us through. Even in that moment I remember with relish these pretty, delicate little morsels, soaked in red jelly and rolled in coconut. And so a difficult memory also became one which symbolised the generosity of a community.
Traditionally these cakes were made in gem scone trays and I was so pleased to find an original unused tray to make these true to original. Even a recipe for gem scones was yellowed and intact - still to be made.
I hope I can do these justice with my own version, adapted quite a bit from the original CWA (Country Women’s Association) version. These are red from home made blood orange jelly, with a soft orange scented vanilla sponge inside, a dot of vanilla chantilly cream and a good rolling of white coconut.
And if there are folk out there who wish to share their family jelly cake bakes and memories - please do, I would love to hear from you.
Blood Orange Jelly Cakes
Makes 20 complete cakes
For the cake:
Have all the ingredients at room temperature
125g unsalted butter
140g raw caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
zest of one orange
120g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
For the Jelly:
400ml blood and plain orange juice
(I used 6 blood oranges and 2 navel oranges)
water (to bring juice and sugar mix to 500ml)
10g gelatine powder
1-2 cups desiccated coconut
For the cream:
300ml thickened cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Spray oil or melted butter
extra flour to prepare the tins
Prepare the jelly first:
Juice the oranges and stir in the sugar. Keep stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Measure the amount and add enough water to make the total mixture equal 500ml.
Take off 125 ml of the mixture and sprinkle over the gelatine powder. Allow this to swell (bloom) - about 10 minutes. Now heat this mixture gently until the gelatine has dissolved and there are no lumps. Bring close to boiling point.
Stir the hot jelly mixture into the remaining juice using a whisk.
Pour the jelly into a small baking dish and chill in the fridge for about an hour until it is just starting to set. Take it out at his point and leave at room temperature.
(if the jelly has set, this can be easily fixed by heating in the microwave until the edges are just starting to melt, then giving it a good stir until you have returned to a slightly gloopy slightly runny mixture)
To prepare the cake batter:
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius, fan forced
In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, caster sugar, salt, vanilla and orange zest until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition until you have a cohesive, fluffy mix.
Sift together the flour, cornflour and baking powder.
Gently stir in the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, until the mixture is just combined and no lumps of flour remain.
Prepare the gem scone tins by spraying with oil or brushing them with melted butter then dusting them with flour. Shake off any excess flour.
(if you don’t have a gem scone tin, small muffins tins also work but give a different shape)
Fill the tins with teaspoons of mixture so that they are just over 3/4 full.
You may need to experiment a little so that the mixture rises just to the top without going over too much.
Bake the cakes for 10 minutes or until just done. Test them by gently pressing the middle - the cake should spring back slightly.
Remove and allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before turning the cakes onto a cooling rack.
Once cool, trim off any excess cake with a knife so that the edges are even.
Pour the coconut into a shallow bowl.
Roll each cake in the jelly, using a spoon to make sure it is covered. This needs to be done quite quickly so that the jelly is just starting to sink into the cake in a thin layer.
Remove the cake and roll in coconut.
Once all the cakes are jellied and rolled, chill them in the fridge to allow the jelly to set.
Whip the cream with the vanilla and sugar until thick and pipe-able.
Place the cream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
Remove the cakes from the fridge.
Pipe a small star of cream on the bottom cake and top with the top cake to make cream filled spherical cakes.
It is best to eat the filled cakes on the day that they are made.
The cakes can also be made in advance. Prepare the cakes up the the point of filling them with cream and store them in the fridge. When ready to serve, remove them from the fridge about half and hour before serving, fill them with cream and serve.
Hints and variations:
These jelly cakes can equally be made with any flavour fresh fruit jelly - I am working on Strawberry and Raspberry versions, or if you need to save time and want to go with the more traditional jelly cake you can use packet Jelly ( I prefer the natural varieties).
Hope you enjoy these yummy little treats ..