According to AI, Jaffa Cakes are cakes, not biscuits.

The Jaffa Cake, for all its orangey, chocolatey, spongy goodness, can stir up quite a debate.

Is the chocolate on the bottom or the top? Should you eat it all in one or start off by nibbling the edge?

Is it a cake or a biscuit? That’s the burning question astrophysicist Dr Héloïse Stevance wants the answer to.

Is it a cake? Is it a biscuit? Let AI do the answering.

Fans of the popular British snack by McVitie’s have passionately argued whether it’s a cake or biscuit due to its unique texture and appearance. On the one hand, some argue that since the Jaffa Cake is small in size and placed in the biscuit aisle, it should be a biscuit in its own right. On the other, some considered its physical properties to be those of a cake, as the snack hardens rather than softens when it’s stale.

To put an end to all debates, Dr Stevance came up with a scientific solution – using artificial intelligence (AI). 

With 51 recipes of biscuits and 41 recipes of cakes, she trained two machine learning classification algorithms called random forests, which comprise multiple decision trees and a support vector machine.

Two Jaffa Cake recipes, taken from the internet, were then fed to the algorithms.

Drum roll, please…

Jaffa Cakes are indeed, as their name suggests, cakes!

The random forest and support vector machine classifiers presented 95% and 91% accuracy, respectively. While Dr Stevance did not use the official McVitie’s Jaffa Cake recipe in her experiments, she confirmed that she would perform follow-up studies with the official recipe if it can be provided to her by McVitie’s.

Was the training performed enough? Perhaps more should be done to answer the questions plaguing the sweet treat!

But what other controversial debates would you like to see solved by AI? Let us know!

By Mitchell Lim

Mitchell Lim is the latest addition to DUG’s science communication department. With a PhD in Chemical Engineering, Mitch is an expert in the fields of catalysis and ultrasonics. Full-time science geek, part-time fitness junkie, Mitch is living proof that brains and brawn are not mutually exclusive. His mission is to make science more accessible to you, while dreaming of having access to Martian land someday.