Saturday, 2 June 2012

Baking with Baby (3) & Mrs Crimble

One of the problems of allowing Baby to watch children's TV, is that it tends to raise her aspirations. I wouldn't mind, except that it puts me under pressure to help her realise her dreams. The other day was a case in point - I left her happily watching Mr Tumble (from 'Something Special'), whilst I tackled some washing up. Usually, I like her watching this programme - it's meant for special needs children but is also educational for the very young. The programme includes a basic form of sign language, which can help young children develop early communication skills. One thing I know, it works alright - Baby knows exactly how to communicate what she wants. Next thing I know is that she wants a currant bun! This, all because Mr Tumble had been singing 'Five currant buns in a baker's shop' - using real currant buns as props. 'Pah!' I thought to myself, 'bloomin' Mr Tumble, bloomin' BBC. Don't they know the trouble they've caused me?' 

Doubting very much that Baby had the slightest clue what a currant bun actually tastes like, knowing full well that she dislikes raisins, and aware that most bakeries probably use dairy when making their delicacies, I wondered what on earth I was going to do about this one. Then I remembered Mrs Crimble! 

Practically ready to go!
A week or so ago, whilst perusing the Free From aisle of my local Tesco, I happened upon a packet of Mrs Crimble's Muffin and Sponge Mix. At the time, I thought, 'Ah-ha! a ready-mix cake that is gluten free!' Finding that it also had the potential to be dairy free, I thought, 'That could come in handy!' And sure enough it did!

Having not been well, a few days earlier (so still feeling a bit lacking in energy) and being short of time, that day, it proved to be the ideal solution for my problem. 

Perusing the back of the packet to get an idea of what might be involved, I realised that the mix could be used either for making a sandwich style cake or six large muffins. Well, I didn't feel like lining and greasing two tins, so the sponge idea went straight out of the window. I decided to make muffins instead, but wanting to use my Jubilee cupcake cases, rather than large muffin cases, I decided to make muffin cupcakes instead. 'Six large muffins,' I thought to myself, 'must equal twelve cupcakes.' 

That sorted, I left Baby to 'put' the cupcake cases in the holes in the bun tin. OK, she didn't quite manage it herself, but she had fun trying. Meanwhile, I heated the oven (pretty much as per instructions) and got out the bowl and Baby's whisk - part of her Christmas pressie from her auntie. Out came the dairy free sunflower spread, that we always use for baking, and it was soon weighed, melted and poured into the bowl. 

Ensconced once again in her high chair, Baby cheerfully wielded her whisk, whilst I added the egg and water. Once the time seemed right, I opened the packet containing the mix and added it to the mixture, which soon became a thick batter. 

Mix, mix, mix!
Noticing that chocolate chips or blueberries could be added. For once chocolate drops (although I still had those aplenty, from before) didn't seem right. At that point, I remembered the dried blueberries I'd bought the other week. Somehow, I had the suspicion that fresh blueberries were probably the order of the day, but decided dried would have to do. 

'And now we add the blueberries!' I said brightly, to Baby. Baby made it clear she didn't like blueberries. 'Never mind,' I said, 'you haven't tried them yet!' And added them anyway.

Next came the tricky task, of negotiating with Baby exactly who was in charge of getting the mixture in the cupcake cases, but between us it somehow got done, and then they were placed in the oven. The instructions on the packet, said that the muffins should take between 10-15 minutes, so I opted for ten (to check) but actually found that it was 15 minutes before they were fully cooked.

Cooling down
Once she'd heard the timer beep, Baby couldn't wait to get her hands on the muffins - this always follows, no matter how many times I tell her that the mixture needs time to cool down! However, eventually she got her hearts desire and sounds of happy, 'Mmming,' followed. She certainly seemed happy with the results and you know what? There was not a murmur of complaint about the blueberries!

As for me, I thought that the muffins were slightly like a scone in texture - certainly on the surface. The taste of baking powder came through, although there was also a lovely taste of vanilla. 'Well, they're not quite the same as a completely home made cupcake, or muffin' I thought to myself, 'but then ready mixes never are.' However, a few days on, the muffins seem to have matured and improved a bit (cakes always do) and they are tasting a lot more cupcake-like.

In conclusion, when you're pressed for time (i.e. you're going to a special tea to celebrate the Jubilee and having nothing to take for Baby to eat) it could certainly come in very handy to have a packet of this mix in the cupboard.

'What's in it?' 
I hear you say, well the following:

Maize flour
Rice flour
Potato starch
Emulsifiers: mono and diglycerides of fatty acids & polyglycerol esters of fatty acids
Raising agents: disodium dihydrogen diphosphate & sodium bicarbonate
Stabiliser: xantham gum

Just to add:
It is recommended to dust the top of the muffins, with icing sugar, before eating. Alternatively, being in a hurry, we could have used some ready made vanilla flavoured butter cream 'style' icing by Betty Crocker (it also comes in chocolate flavour) which I've found in the baking aisle at most supermarkets. Ours didn't get the chance! 

There is also the option to add cocoa powder to turn it into a chocolate cake. If I'd read the instructions more carefully, before I started, I would have known this. However, I  think I would still have opted for vanilla and blueberry, as that seems more appropriate for a Jubilee tea party.

Happy Jubilee everyone and happy baking - with or without Mrs Crimble's mix!

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