As you might be able to tell by the number of recipes I’ve started to post on the blog, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I love cooking and I love baking. I’m better at the former but like the latter more. That’s because I get to do it with my daughter. Anything that involves sweet stuff, she is there, ready to help and it’s just great one-on-one time, something we don’t get enough because she is a bit of a social butterfly and has a million and one after school activities to take up her life.
Baking with kids though (my daughter is seven and probably started trying to help properly when she was four) is always interesting and can be challenging. First off there is the attention span – my daughter has somewhere between none and very little. Things we bake have to be quick and easy or have plenty of small steps she can get her head around and keep her going.
I always read the recipe first so I know what she can help with and make sure she has lots of tasks to keep her going – weighing, mixing, breaking eggs (with me checking for shells) all work well as does using the food mixer. Things that aren’t as popular are cutting (she can’t use a sharp enough knife) and kneading (she hates getting her hands messy). Now she’s older I write a list on the chalkboard in the kitchen so she can check off each thing she needs to do. It also means I can keep working beside her, speeding up the whole thing.
For all that, though, things don’t always go well and, my second tip for cooking with kids, is not to worry when it does – improvise. So, a week or so ago we got stuck in to make gingerbread men (’tis the season after all!). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the gingerbread man cookie cutter once we’d started (which is tip number three – be prepared, get everything out before you start so you don’t get caught out). Thinking on my feet and looking to avoid a weepy child, I suggested gingerbread men were boring and baubles were the way to go. It worked. Plus, we were able to be much more creative on the decorations…
What do you think?
If you fancy making gingerbread men or baubles, here’s how….
You will need…
- 125g softened unsalted butter
- 170g light muscovado sugar
- 3 tbsp. golden syrup
- 1 egg
- 320g plain flour
- 1 tbsp. powered ginger (this is quite mild so you might want to add 1/2 tbsp. more if you like things more gingery)
- 1 tsp of mixed spice or ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2 tbsp. water (more if needed)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°C fan, 350°F, Gas 4
- Cream the butter and sugar together
- Add egg and golden syrup. Mix together.
- Gradually mix in the flour, ginger, spice/cinnamon, and bicarb.
- Add water as needed to get the mix to stick together so you can then roll out.
- Roll out to 2 / 3 mm thickness and cut into shapes.
- Bake on greased baking sheets for 8 – 10 minutes
- Leave cool and decorate. Then eat.
The whole thing should take no more than half an hour to mix and bake. Perfect for a child’s attention span.