When my daughter Elizabeth first started pre-school I agreed to bake something for the summer fayre cake sale. Eager to impress I turned up with a giant chocolate cake from Nigella’s ‘Feast’ cookbook smugly confident that it would sell well and make a marvellous contribution to the fundraising effort. I had visions of it being cut up into slices each selling for at least 50p thus making a reasonable amount for the school…and was there also some sort of golden badge involved for my efforts and envious glances from other parents!!!
Instead though, I just had to watch aghast as they slapped on a £2 price tag FOR THE WHOLE DAMN CAKE…I couldn’t believe my eyes. Stupidly I had also presented it on a pretty wooden chopping board which got sold with the cake and was never returned.
The ingredients had cost me at least £5 so in the end the only winners were Tesco and whoever it was that bought the cake for a ridiculously low price and stole my lovely chopping board. I left wishing I’d just given the school a fiver and saved the effort.
With my fingers burned I now stick to these rules when it comes to baking for school.
- Forget about showing off – you won’t win any brownie points and your smugness will just annoy the other parents anyway
- Make sure your ingredients don’t cost too much. Forget the finest dark chocolate money can buy and don’t bother with fancy icing or sprinkles. If there are economy versions of ingredients use those
- Keep a supply of ice cream, Celebrations and Roses tubs in your cupboard to put your cakes in – that way it’s not an issue if you don’t get them back
With these rules in mind, I offer you this recipe for marble muffins. They have reignited my benevolent nature and I no longer leave bake sales feeling bitter and twisted. They are really quick and easy to make, only a little light stirring is involved so you don’t have to get the electric mixer out, the ingredients are cheap (if you use ‘value’ lemon curd), and they don’t need any icing or decoration.
They also taste yummy so I cook these for our own consumption too (albeit with decent quality lemon curd).
PS. On a completely different note, I have to tell you about this blog http://dimlylitmealsforone.tumblr.com/. It’s really funny in a comedy-tragedy sort of way. I’ve definitely had evenings when I really can’t be bothered and my dismal efforts wouldn’t look out of place here.
Hugh FW’s lemon curd marble muffins (from River Cottage ‘everyday’)
- 225g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 125g plain yoghurt
- 125ml milk
- 75g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 150g lemon curd
Preheat your oven to 170oC fan.
Put a dozen paper cases into a muffin tray.
Measure the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and sugar) into a large bowl and whisk to combine and add some air.
Measure the wet ingredients (egg, yoghurt, milk and butter) into a jug and stir with a fork to combine.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir briefly and lightly with a large metal spoon until just about combined. If you over-mix at this stage then your muffins will be tough. You just want to stir enough so that there are no large lumps of flour.
Now add the lemon curd in about 6 dollops and give the mix another couple of stirs to distribute through the batter. Again, don’t over-mix otherwise you will just end up with lemon flavoured stodgy lumps.
Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases. I find that an ice cream scoop works well here, with one scoop being enough for each case.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
These are best served warm or on the day you bake them. However, if they don’t all get eaten (rare in our house) then you can refresh by heating each one in the microwave for about 10 seconds.
A chocolate version
For a chocolate version replace the lemon curd with 150g of Nutella, slightly warmed so it’s easier to spread through the mix. I’m not a great fan of this version but my children love them.