Marmite is a British dark brown spread made from brewer’s yeast, a by-product in the the beer industry. It has a very characteristic strong taste and either you love it or hate it (I love it of course). Launched in 1902 Marmite became very popular during the two world wars, when, due to its high vitamin B content, it was an important element of soldiers’ rations and became very useful in times when the vitamin deficiency was very frequent. Marmite was first sold in earthenware pots, shaped like a casserole dish, hence the name coming from the French world “marmite” (meaning “casserole” and pronounced “marmeet”). Australian and New Zealand Vegemite, as well as Australian Promite are very similar products. In Europe I think only the Swiss have a Marmite equivalent, called Cenovis (from the Latin “cenare”, to eat, and “vis” “strength”), which also used to be a staple in the army.
I have never tasted Vegemite or Promite, but I like Cenovis as much as Marmite and couldn’t really say which one I prefer. For me Marmite has an enticing and highly addictive smell and flavour. I even suspect it of being rich in umami (the famous 5th taste). Until now I have only had both spreads on buttered bread, but have always wanted to use them in more elaborate preparations.
When I saw the Sweet – Savoury Marmite Cake on the Baking Devils blog, I thought it was a perfect recipe to embark on a series of cooking adventures with Marmite. I was right, since this first “baking with Marmite” experiment gave extraordinary and original results, appreciated even by avowed Marmite haters. Thank you, Baking Devils, for this delicious recipe!
I have slightly modified the Baking Devils‘ recipe, mainly reducing the sugar and butter amounts and putting more Marmite, but most of all, as a big fan of individual snacks, I decided to make muffins instead of a big cake. I have filled some cups 3/4 full and some 1/2 full. I definitely preferred the latter, lower muffins, more “marmitey” and more addictive. These muffins are perfect for a savoury breakfast or afternoon tea. Baked in mini-muffin forms, they would make intriguing appetisers or party snacks.
Preparation: 1 hour
Ingredients (makes 12 muffins, with cups filled 1/2 full):
120 g flour
50 g sugar
1 teaspoon salt
25 g butter
3 teaspoons baking powder
150 ml water
6 tablespoons melted butter
4 teaspoons Marmite
50 g grated cheese (I used gruyère)
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Mix the butter with sugar in a food processor.
Add gradually flour and eggs, continuously mixing.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Fill the muffin forms 1/2 full and bake about 15 minutes.
Combine the Marmite with the melted butter and spread on the hot muffins.
Sprinkle with grated cheese.
Put under the oven broiler/grill and grill until the cheese melts.
Serve warm or cold.