Friday, January 8, 2010

Basic Madeira Mixture

I use this mixture to make what I call muffins - but they're not muffins at all. Muffins are made with oil, as far as I know, and these - the little sisters to big, beefy American muffins - are variously called buns, tea-cakes or fairycakes in the British Isles (yes, in the interests of bloggery I surveyed my British and Irish colleagues for a consensus.) So I just call them muffins, which is an easier term for my German friends to remember (and pronounce). They're made with the most basic of all baking recipes - the Madeira mixture. This is based on a 2+2+2+1 variation:
2 ozs self-raising flour
2 ozs sugar
2 ozs butter
1 egg.

Lost already, American readers? Well, I've had to move with the times and adjust it to the metric system (sigh). And self-raising flour isn't available over here - I have a suspicion that Germans consider it cheating. So here's the adjusted version that'll make approximately 20 fairycakes/muffins:

250g white flour + 2 heaped tsps baking powder
250g sugar
250g butter
4 large eggs

In the Imperial system this would've been 8 ozs flour, sugar, butter and 4 eggs (actually, 250g is a bit more than 8 ozs, but let's not split hairs.) I use a so-called yoghurt butter, a light butter for people who don't want/like full-fat butter. Believe me, full-fat butter and I are good friends, but we don't want stodgy muffins, so we're opting for a lighter butter.

Cream the eggs, butter and sugar.

Optional step: transfer the mixture to less aesthetically pleasing bowl after splattering the kitchen wall with cake batter because the pretty bowl was too small. :-(

Sift in the flour + baking powder. Mix till there are no lumps. If you want a plain muffin, spoon into paper cases in a muffin tin and bake for 20 mins at approx. 180°C/350°F. Tidy up by licking the beaters of the mixer and running your finger along the inside of the bowl to greedily scoop up the leftover batter (note: you may have to do this quickly, as children and husbands have the uncanny ability to track down and lick baking bowls and utensils. Hide in the broom cupboard if necessary.)

If you plan to add to this recipe (e.g. by making Apple Crumble Muffins), do NOT lick the beaters. Do NOT maul the wooden spoon. Put them DOWN - that's right, you heard me: put them down, nice and sloooooooowly. You're going to need them again in a moment.

Madeira Sponge Cake

Alternatively, spoon the mixture into a round baking tin and bake for about 25-30 mins (or till you can stick a skewer into the cake and it comes out clean). Leave to cool, then split in the middle, spread with jam and whipped cream. Sift some icing sugar on top and eat fresh with a piping hot cup of tea. Yum, yum.

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