I forgot to take a picture of the Muesli Bar Challenge this week! We had a brunch party on Sunday morning, and luckily someone took a mobile phone photo that has the ones that I made for that in it. But you don’t really see their blonde enticingness!
This recipe has a little more sugar than usual – lemons are tart and need sugar to balance. But it has surprisingly little – about two teaspoons per muffin (one is my usual cut-off point), and that is in an 80 gram muffin. I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect you could replace at least half the sugar with honey – if you give that a go, I’d love to hear how it works out.
For those new to the site, the much-marketed LCMs got me started on a rant about the junk food marketed as suitable for lunch boxes. There are so many recipes for lunch box baking that are fast, easy, healthy, and that kids actually prefer to the overpackaged, overpriced confectionary sold as “muesli bars”. It is symptomatic to me of the loopiness of our food culture. When chefs say the best recipes are based on fresh, local, in season ingredients, they mean it literally! They are not just the best tasting recipes, but also the best for you and the best for the planet.
With lemons so very in season, what this recipe loses in the “low sugar” criteria, it makes up in the “based on local in season ingredients” one. Cooking wipes out a good portion – a bit more than half – of the Vitamin C in lemons, but the citrus “flavinoids” (many of them in the zest) survive the process, and they have a huge range of health benefits including anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic effects.
These are steamed muffins and they have a texture a bit like a steamed pudding. So they survive well in the rough and tumble of lunch boxes. I shall be interested to hear what the kids think of them.
The tricky bit of this recipe is finding the right baking utensils. For this recipe, you need to be able to put a lid on your muffin tray and sit the covered tray in a baking dish of boiling water. Ideally, if you have two matching 12 hole muffin trays, you can put one upside down on top of the other. Otherwise you may need to be inventive to find something in your baking tins cupboard that will work. I have a biscuit tray that fits neatly on top of my muffin tray.
The dry part:
- 1 cup of wholemeal self-raising flour
- 2/3 cup polenta
- pinch salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
The wet part:
- 70 grams of butter
- 2/3 cup of raw sugar.
- 2 eggs
- Nearly (but not quite) a cup of liquid. If you like a mild lemony-ness, make it half low fat milk and half lemon juice. If you like it strong, increase the ratio of lemon juice.
- two teaspoons of lemon rind (big teaspoons for strong, small teaspoons for mild).
Fold together the wet part and the dry part and pour the mix into 12 muffin tins. Cover the muffin tray and sit it in a baking dish. Fill the baking dish with boiling water so it comes three-quarters of the way up the side of the muffin tray (as you would for a baked custard). Bake for 40 minutes or so. They will be set at about 30 minutes, but the extra time gives the polenta an extra bit of fluffiness.