The Kavey Eats Jaffa Cake Taste Test!

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I’ve really enjoyed the taste tests I’ve run so far – for Christmas pudding, chocolate Easter eggs and alcoholic ginger beer.

It’s fun to get together with fellow food lovers to focus on one chosen food or drink.

And in terms of generating a useful and fair result, my feeling is that amalgamating feedback from a panel of testers means that one person’s personal preferences don’t skew the results. What I mean by that is the results generated by a panel will hopefully be more representative of the wider public than a ranking of products decided by one taster on their own.

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So last Wednesday, my latest team of volunteers assembled at The Bull in Highgate (who’d very kindly allowed us to hold the tasting in the private corner of their upstairs dining room) and peered at, smelled and chomped our way through 12 different brands of jaffa cakes.

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Before the panel arrived, Pete and I removed the biscuits from their boxes (which we hid) and then placed all the jaffa cakes onto numbered plates, so they could be tasted anonymously. I had created tasting sheets which had space for notes about appearance and smell, the cake base, the jaffa jelly and the chocolate coating, overall feedback about the jaffa cake and a score out of 10.

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Having worked through all 12, we went back to the early ones to assess them against the rest of the pack, as scoring the first few is always hard without the context of those to follow. Some tasters went back through all 12 again, to make sure they’d given each jaffa cake a fair try (and because they’re greedy bastards!)

All the jaffa cakes were judged on how good they were against the others. Prices were not taken into consideration, so when you read the results below, you may be even more impressed to see how well some of the less expensive brands performed against the most expensive ones.

 

1st place Asda Chosen By You

Score 8.3
Price per 12 = £0.65

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All of us were surprised when I revealed the identities of the jaffa cakes at the end of the tasting session and we quickly realised that the winner was a jaffa cake made by Asda and on sale for just 65 pence for 12.

Most of us commented that our first impressions were good. The jaffa cake had a "glossy", "thick coat of chocolate", "even/ smooth", providing "good coverage", which was deemed "posh looking". A number of us could pick up a "good smell of dark chocolate".

Beneath that, we liked that the jelly extended "near to the edge" and was a "very deep" layer with a texture that was quite "jam" like. Taste wise the jelly had a "good orange flavour" which suggested it was "made from proper oranges", we liked how "citrusy" it was, "tangy" and reminiscent of "marmalade", indeed the flavour was "a bit more complex" than the others.

The cake itself was "more like proper cake", with a "good consistency", whereas the majority of the others were a little too dry. One panellist felt it was a "bit thin".

Back to the chocolate, it was deemed to have a "nice dark chocolate flavour" which "complements the jaffa" with a good "bite". One panellist found it a touch bitter, the rest liked it.

This jaffa cake was felt to have a "good overall balance" though a number of us did notice it was a bit smaller in diameter than a few of the other circular jaffa cakes.

 

2nd place Bahlsen Messino

Score 6.7
Price per 12 = £0.89

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Available in a range of supermarkets including Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, Bahlsen Messino was one of two oblong jaffa cakes in our test.

Quite a few of the panel were surprised or put out by the "cubular" shape which was deemed by some to be "wrong"!

We noted the "smooth", "even appearance" of the "thick layer" of chocolate with it’s "vertical striping".

The sponge cake was "not stale" but we did have a mixed reaction with one person commenting that it "stuck in the teeth slightly", another describing it as "dense and flaky" and one stating simply that it was "soft". It was felt to be a bit "thin".

The jelly was in a "thin layer" but did extend "all across" the sponge. It was "very soft", "very sweet", "strong in flavour". Texture wise, it was "very soft", some felt it wasn’t much like a jelly.

The "thick covering" of chocolate "good", though "still not strong [enough a] flavour" for some. But it did have a little "bitter taste to temper the very sweet jelly".

Overall, we liked it, though there was some surprise that the main taste was orange, despite that thick layer of chocolate. One felt it "looked posher" than others but wasn’t actually better.

 

3rd place Marks and Spencer

Score 6.1
Price per 12 = £0.99

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Some of the panel found the Marks and Spencer jaffa cake virtually indistinguishable from the Bahlsen Messino one, and certainly most of the comments were very similar.

Quite a few of the panellists were surprised or put out by the "cubular" shape which was deemed by some to be "wrong"!

We noted a "strong chocolate smell" and the "smooth", "even appearance" of the "thick layer" of chocolate.

The sponge cake was "not stale" but we did have a mixed reaction with one person declaring it "a bit mealy", another describing it as "dense" and one stating simply that it was "soft". It was felt to be a bit "thin" but with "good texture".

The jelly was in a "thin layer" but did extend "all across" the sponge. It was "very sweet", "strong in flavour" though one panellist felt it "needed more orange". Texture wise, it was "very soft", one person found it "slightly grainy", some felt it wasn’t much like a jelly.

The "thick covering" of chocolate was "good", though "still not strong {enough a] flavour" for some.

Overall, we liked it, though there was some surprise that the main taste was orange, despite that thick layer of chocolate.

 

4th place Lidl Sondey

Score 6.0
Price per 12 = £0.43 (sold in packs of 24 for 85 pence)

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For one of our panellists, this was their favourite of the 12 jaffa cakes. For the rest, our findings were mixed between those who felt it was pretty good and those who weren’t as keen.

Appearance wise, it had a "good covering of chocolate" which was described as "dark" and "looks fancy" and even "a cute little biscuit".

The sponge was variously found to be ""a nice texture, not dry at all", "a bit mealy" and with "nice solidity but still soft". Nearly all panellists noted that it was rather "thin". One felt it to be a bit "dry" though more of us found it "soft", one panellist commented that it was "a little too soft and cakey".

The jaffa jelly was a "nice even spread", "to the edges". In texture it was "like a decent jam", though "a bit grainy". In flavour not as strong as some of us would have liked but with a balance of bitter and sweet.

Some of us liked that we could smell the chocolate, and that it was a good thick coating but felt there was "not much taste".

Because of the "even coating of jelly" this jaffa cake offered "an even flavour between bites" and one who marked it highly appreciated the "lasting flavour".

it was a bit smaller in diameter than some of the circular jaffa cakes.

 

5th place McVities

Score 5.7
Price per 12 = £1.15 (also sold in packs of 36 for £3.12)

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This well known brand was the second most expensive (by quite considerable margin).

This cake had a reasonable coating of chocolate, though uneven on some biscuits leading some panellists to comment that it was "thick" and others to describe it as a "cheap", "thin layer".

The cake received more varied comments than most. On the texture front it was described as "an airy cake, quite dry", "dry and crumbly", "good texture but a bit dry", "less stale" in comparison with others. The thickness was "medium". On the flavour front it was "distinct from previous ones" (it was number 5) and "a bit sweeter", with a "slightly eggy taste" and a "taste like hazelnuts".

The jaffa jelly was only in the centre but still more "generous" than some. Most didn’t comment on texture, though one found it "slightly crystallised" and another "more sticky". In taste it was "mild", "not strong enough".

There were no comments on the flavour of the chocolate, which didn’t come through well at all.

Overall, the scores for this one were in the middle, though some didn’t like the "strong synthetic aftertaste of orange" or "bit of an odd taste". One person thought it a "bit floral", another "unimpressive" and another "perfectly eatable but nothing special".

 

Joint 6th place Aldi Belmont

Score 5.6
Price per 12 = £0.43 (sold in packs of 24 for 85 pence)

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A good looking biscuit with a small diameter and medium thickness of sponge, a little dry but not overwhelmingly so. Thick jelly, almost to the edge, not very orangey in flavour but does stand out from cake and chocolate. Chocolate layer thin but fully coated and even, with nice flavour.

 

Joint 6th place Tesco (regular range)

Score 5.6
Price per 12 £0.69

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This was one panellist’s favourite jaffa cake.

A bit small with a very thin layer of cheap chocolate through which one can see the jelly in quite a few places, chocolate a bit thicker around edges. Texture of sponge dry on outside edges, almost crispy, but softer inside, slightly stale feeling. Nicely set thick layer of jelly in centre only, not very orangey in flavour, pleasant enough. Can taste the chocolate, though cheap. Most found this jaffa cake quite average. Comments include "overall pretty good" and "nice balance of flavours".

 

Joint 8th place Morrisons

Score 5.4
Price per 12 = £0.65

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A thin and messily applied coating of chocolate, looks cheap. Sponge quite deep, a little dry and crumbly but with a nice flavour. Jelly in centre only, making this jaffa cake mostly cake. Chocolate thin over jelly but a little thicker around edges and has nice "crunch". Decent flavours. Comments include "not a lot of love here".

 

Joint 8th place Sainsbury’s (regular range)

Score 5.4
Price per 12 = £0.65

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A good even spread of chocolate, and a discernable chocolate smell. A pleasantly soft vanilla sponge. Nice jelly and reasonably generous, though mostly in centre, but not a strong enough flavour ("Where’s the orange, no orange!"). Chocolate smooth but doesn’t add much overall flavour. Comments include "indistinguishable".

 

10th place Cadbury’s

Score 3.7
Price per 12 = £1.29

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Given that this was the most expensive jaffa cake in the test, by quite a large amount, the performance of the Cadbury’s jaffa cake was disappointing.

Chocolate coating uneven, variously thick and thin, though overall more generous than some. Not much flavour at all and has a cheap chocolate aftertaste. Sponge is chewy. Jelly layer a little thin, though extends quite near to edge of the cake. Very little fruit flavour though one panellist thought it had a hint of alcohol about it. Comments include "not a pleasant sensation" and "tastes of sad".

 

Joint 11th place Sainsbury’s Basic

Score 3.3
Price per 12 = £0.40 (sold in packs of 24 for 79 pence)

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Small size but thick sponge. Sparsely coated with chocolate so that jelly shows through. Sponge is crispy, crunchy, dry throughout. Smooth jelly, in centre only, but not much flavour, very mild. Chocolate doesn’t taste chocolaty, is more like really cheap cooking chocolate. "Looks cheap", tastes "meh".

 

Joint 11th place Tesco Everyday Value

Score 3.3
Price per 12 = £0.40 (sold in packs of 24 for 79 pence)

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Small size but thick sponge. Sparsely and unevenly coated with chocolate so that jelly shows through. Sponge is crispy, crunchy, dry throughout, stale. Measly amount of jelly in centre only, and not much flavour. Chocolate doesn’t taste chocolaty, is cheap milk chocolate flavour. "Very cheap", "synthetic aftertaste", "unpleasant".

 

So there you have it, all twelve jaffa cakes tested, with their average scores and a representative description of how we found them.

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I hope you find these results interesting, surprising, useful!

 

Thanks to my panel of taste testers: Pete, Simon, Jacqui, Tonnvane, Jason & Becca.

With additional thanks to Aldi, Asda, Lidl and Sainsbury’s for review samples. Rest were purchased directly in store.

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
23 Comments to "The Kavey Eats Jaffa Cake Taste Test!"

  1. Miss Whiplash

    I have to agree with your panel – jaffa cakes should clearly be round.
    Square jaffa cakes are blasphemous. Or something 🙂

    Reply
  2. kaveyeats

    Steve, I am sure there are some that are made by the same supplier. Even where they are a little different. I did some (training) work with food development for a major supermarket some years ago, and many of their own brand items were made by the same companies who made the well known independent brands on the market, however exact recipes were tweaked to give each supermarket a “unique” product.

    Miss Whiplash, I hear you, but I don’t mind the shape as long as the taste is good!

    Su-Lin so I hear, Crvenka, I believe. I hadn’t heard of it until today though. I got hold of all those I could either buy or have supermarkets send to me, but there were some I simply couldn’t get (no branch of the shop accessible to me / no response from press office). And some I wasn’t aware of. Is the Crvenka brand easily available in UK? I was really focusing on brands available in supermarkets…

    Reply
  3. MaverickX

    Crvenka is a serbian brand and also available (but not so easily) in UK, States and Australia. Crvenka’s jaffa cakes are worth every penny!

    Reply
  4. kaveyeats

    Dom, ha, you’re not alone in that thought!

    Maverick, ah, I’m not sure where I’d find the Crvenka ones in the UK. Maybe some kind soul could send me a packet? ;-P

    Reply
  5. Procrastibaking

    Sample size is too small and doesn’t cover enough demographics. Experiment will have to be repeated on a larger scale….with more jaffa cakes…..for science. Tasty, tasty science.

    Reply
  6. celia

    I’ve never heard of a jaffa cake before! Over here, jaffas are orange and chocolate confectionary! 🙂 Thanks for the enlightenment! 🙂

    Reply
  7. Sarah, Maison Cupcake

    I can’t believe you tested TWELVE types, you must have all looked like jaffa cakes by the end. I will definitely seek out the top 3 in future. And I like the look of the rectangular ones very much.

    Reply
  8. Hannah

    I have to say that I am in agreement about the non round Jaffa Cakes. My husband brought home some of the M&S ones yesterday but it’s just wrong, why are they rectangular!? Having said that now I have seen that they were awarded 3rd place I might need to go and sample them myself!

    Reply

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