Thursday 7 August 2008

The return of marge?

Next week A level results are announced so I've been frantically busy with my new Beyond Baked Beans student cooking page on Facebook (note the subtle plug ;-)

The great thing about it is that students can upload recipes and videos direct and we've already got some great ones on the page.

One which has caught my eye is a video of a 'Really Moist Chocolate Cake' which was submitted by 15 year old Rebecca Carey who recently won the Guild of Food Writers young cookery writers competition 'Write It'.

What's interesting about the cake is that it contains a good dollop of yoghurt (hence the moistness) and soft tub margarine.

Now that's a blast from the past!

When I first started to bake, recipes always suggested using soft tub marge because it was so easy to cream. In fact you could put all the ingredients together in a bowl and simply beat them by hand (or, rather with a wooden spoon . . .)

It's also a great deal cheaper than using butter. I checked out my local Sainsbury's yesterday and found that Stork was selling at 69p for 500g, far cheaper than spreadable butter or indeed many of the new butter-imitating spreads.

You wouldn't want to use it for spreading on bread but there are plenty of alternatives. You can buy a tub of Sainsbury's Buttersoft Slightly Salted for £1.70 for 500g which is cheaper than any of the spreadable butters.

The cheapest block butter in Sainsbury's was 85p for 250g. I'd still use that for cooking but I think if I had a family to feed and was trying to cut my food budget I'd definitely be working my way round the spreads to find one I liked.

What do you use for eating or cooking? Would you, do you use marge or one of the oil-based spreads? And what do you use for baking?


TrillianAstra said...

I always use stork for baking, it's cheaper, you don't have to remember to get it out of the fridge an hour before, and my lactose-intolerant friend can eat 'butter' icing made from it.
Maybe for something really special (or something very simple where butter provided the flavour) I would consider using real butter, but who would notice in a coffee cake?

Anonymous said...

For cooking and baking I always use butter, and only buy the value/smartprice butter at 85p/250g (atm).

For sandwiches, toast etc... I use marg. The last 2 weeks Asda has had the 500g of Country Life Spreadable for £1 so I've stocked up on that :-)

Fiona Beckett said...

You're right, charlie. I made a cappucino cake recently and used Willow and it tasted perfectly fine.

And great bargain at Asda, kadeeae! Well spotted!

verity said...

Hmm - I worry about trans fats and hygrogenated fats a lot, so although it's not very frugal I only use Yeo Valley organic spreadable and whatever the cheapest organic butter is. I prefer to eat organic dairy products only; even though they are more expensive I justify it by being vegetarian and saving money on meat...

Fiona Beckett said...

That's fair enough, Verity. I admit to being inconsistent about this. I always buy organic milk but not always organic cheese and butter and I will sometimes buy spreads for cakes just because they're so much easier to work. Some of them do now flag up that they don't contain hydrogenated fats.

scj said...

Hello Fiona, I have just discovered your blog from the article in the Times newspaper a week back. It's great and I shall be popping back here often!
I use Bertolli spread for sandwiches, toast and for baking with good results. My preference especially for toast is real butter and I confess to using Lurpack!! I have a great recipe for making your own 'better butter' using best butter and olive oil which is great and keeps well in the fridge. I haven't made it in a while now as my husband isn't very keen. He is a real Bertolli fan and as it has been on a good price recently at Sainsbury's and he does the shopping, we have plenty in the fridge currently!!

Signe said...

This is a tricky one as butter has seen such a massive jump in price over the past year :-( For baking I always use butter because of the flavour it imparts, but I have to confess to using the cheapest one I can find - and would still rather use that than margarine. For spreading on bread, I'm more militant about the kind of butter I use because of the immediacy of flavour - if I've gone to the effort to make a yummy bread then I reckon it deserves something delicious, and margarine just doesn't do it for me. Plus, as Verity pointed out, there is a legitimate worry about the levels of trans and hydrogenated fats in margarine, although some brands are, as Fiona correctly pointed out, flagging their non-hydrogenated credentials. Overall verdict? Use butter for baking, it doesn't take long for it to soften once it's out of the fridge, at Leiths we used to put it in the pockets of our aprons as the heat radiating from your body is enough to soften butter in minutes :-)

Fiona Beckett said...

hey, but what about the state of the aprons, Signe?!!!

I think it depends on the type of cake. Some, like plain almond cakes, really need butter but if a cake is flavoured with cocoa or coffee I think you can get away with a spread. I recently used half butter/half Willow as an experiment and it wasn't at all bad.

Like the sound of your butter/olive oil spread scj (welcome, btw!) - how much do you use of each and what kind of olive oil do you use?

I haven't tried Bertoli but will give it a go. If I find it on special offer of course ;-)

Anonymous said...

Just had to pop back by to say that while doing an online shop at "T" this morning I stocked up on Kerrygold 250g block butters which were just 2/£1.60, and at 80p each, 5p per block cheaper than "T's" value butter!

Sorry, didn't mean to turn this into a 'best price hunt' :-)

I've tried to 'trackback' to you by using the post's url, because I mentioned TFC in my latest post and could not find a trackback link here on blogger. Not sure if it will work that way or not.

Fiona Beckett said...

thanks for that kadeeae - seems to be linking through OK.

Good butter bargain. Think you obviously just have to bargain hunt - as with everything else at the moment

Anonymous said...

Most of the recipes I use call for margarine, so I buy the big tubs of Stork. It's easy to cream, and tastes lovely....although I wouldn't spread it on my toast! It even makes a yummy butter icing.

I have used unsalted butter in the past for certain recipes, but it's quite expensive at 89p per block.

Helen said...

I used to use Stork but it does in have diary in it which I try and avoid as much s I can, I now bake with Pure soy marge or I use sunflower oil for fairy cakes or muffins which works a treat. I need to experiment more with it in larger cakes.