On Sunday, the boy and I were hosts to a Book Swap for the English speaking mothers' group I belong to in Paris. About a half dozen women showed up with, on average, 1.5 kids in tow. At least four or five of them were still in the toddling stage and so the boy was delighted. He crawled around with glowing eyes and a permanent smile on his face for the first three hours at least. (After that the smiles were a bit frantic and forced and he had to spend a bit of time in Baby Jail with a nice bottle of milk to calm his nerves.) My concern was the provender: sweet or savoury? Food for children or for adults? In the end I opted for a mix. I had a few ingredients in the fridge for interesting sandwiches. I thought about chocolate oatmeal cookies. But in the end, I decided to experiment with my grandmother's zucchini bread recipe. Sweet and appealing to children, but marginally healthy so that moms can feel a little at ease...
The reason I made these into muffins was a simple logistical one: I don't have any bread loaf pans (hello, Santa? are you reading?) and wasn't sure which size pan to substitute. Also, I rightly assumed they would be easy to serve and popular. The advantage I didn't foresee is that zucchini bread is fairly dense and this meant they fell apart less in the hands of the little ones. Don't get me wrong: the living room floor was a carpet of zucchini muffin crumbs by the time the party was over. Nevertheless I think it would have been worse with a lighter dough.
2/3 cup soft butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (unpeeled but well washed)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
Beat the sugar and butter until creamy. Beat in the eggs one by one. Add the grated zucchini and vanilla and mix well. Mix (or sift) together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and quickly stir until yoiu have a smooth batter. Pour into greased muffin tins or - if you are smart - cupcake paper liners in a cupcake/muffin tin. You'll want to fill them three-quarters of the way as these muffins don't rise very much. With my tin it made exactly 24 muffins.
I toyed with the idea of adding chopped apricots or frosting the muffins with a cream cheese frosting. I think both of these things would have made them even tastier. But also, alas, messier. And when you have a half dozen youngsters who are still in the uncivilized (but delightful) stage of Learning To Eat With My Hands, you want to limit the mess as much as possible.