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Turn to jelly (cakes)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I bet I'm not the only one with bakeware that they used once and then stored in the back of their kitchen cupboards. We all do it, don't we? Perhaps we see a cake with an attractive shape on TV or in a magazine or cookbook and we go out and get the mould. We come back, we use it, and once we've made a cake with the same attractive shape as the one on TV or in a magazine or cookbook, we're satisfied and stuff the mould somewhere and often forget about it.
Damn this need for instant gratification.
Well, instant gratification is bad enough, but then there's also the subliminal messages on TV that get you to make purchases. After watching a rerun of Seinfeld, the character Elaine convinced me that I needed to make muffin tops. And I needed a special pan for that. Later, however, I found that I was not the only one influenced by the sit-com because apparently, the episode also inspired bakeware companies to come out with pans for just the muffin tops!
I didn't find any muffin top pans, but I thought  this jelly cake pan would work just as well.
Jelly cake mould
They're like madeleine pans, I suppose, except without the shell shape. When the cakes cook, they form a dome so both the bottom and top are rounded.
Agar-agar powder in red
Well, after making muffin tops just the one time, that's when the pan ended up in the back of the cupboard. But last weekend, I dug it out and used it the way it was intended: for jelly cakes.
Like lamingtons, jelly cakes are Australian. But instead of cake blocks rolled in chocolate and tossed in dessicated coconut, jelly cakes are cake discs coated in partly set strawberry or raspberry jelly (for a pink colour) and then in coconut. 
The only time I've seen these baby snacks being prepared was when Australian chef Kylie Kwong makes her mum's jelly cakes on one of her cooking shows. As the jelly coating for the cakes, she mixes water with an 85g packet of raspberry or strawberry jelly crystals.
Since it is more easily available, I wanted to use agar-agar powder which comes in 10g packets and in all sorts of colours, including red. The instructions say to "cook" the agar-agar powder with water and sugar, unlike the jelly crystals which are simply dissolved in boiling water. Agar-agar also becomes firm quicker, and at room temperature, so timing is important. I had to work fast to coat the jelly cakes.
Jelly cakes are made with a yellow cake batter, but I had some egg whites leftover from another dish so I made white cakes instead.
My jelly cake pan only makes 12 cakes, so I had leftover batter which I baked in four dariole moulds, coating them in jelly and coconut as well to make English madeleines (with half a glacé cherry on top). These little cakes are traditionally coated in jam and sometimes topped with candied angelica.
English madeleines
Jelly White Cakes
Makes 12 cakes (with leftover batter)

75g cake flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
60g butter, at room temperature
90g caster sugar
¼ tsp vanilla extract
60ml milk
2 egg whites, at room temperature
80g dessicated coconut, approximate

Jelly coating
This makes twice as much as needed. Make jelly with the other half.
750ml water
250g caster sugar
1 x 10g packet agar-agar powder (red colour)

Lightly grease a 12-hole jelly cake tin and preheat oven to 180°C.
Sift flour with baking powder and salt three times.
Reserve 1 tbsp sugar and beat the rest with the butter until light and creamy. Stir in vanilla extract.
Place egg whites in a clean bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk until foamy, then add the reserved 1 tbsp of sugar and whisk until stiff but not dry.
Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with milk in three batches. Fold in egg whites.
Drop heaped tablespoons of batter into prepared tin. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave cakes in tin for 10 minutes, then remove from tin and transfer to wire rack to cool.
Make the jelly coating: Place water, sugar and agar-agar powder in a pot over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves; bring to the boil. Pour half into a large shallow dish and the rest into jelly moulds. Leave both containers at room temperature (the agar-agar should set within an hour; refrigerate before serving). Stir the jelly coating occasionally; the edges should start setting in about 20 minutes. When it has the consistency of runny jam, it is ready to use.
Place the dessicated coconut in another shallow bowl. Dip the jelly cakes in the runny jelly, coating it evenly, then toss in the coconut. Can be served immediately, but I think they are better refrigerated before serving.


  1. These look interesting and pretty! I have not tasted jelly cakes before though, won't the cake be soggy after coating with the jelly?

    1. Thanks Jeannie. The jelly is just a thin coating and won't get soggy immediately, but they will if kept too long at room temperature. That's why I recommend that the cakes be refrigerated.


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