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Millionaires Shortbread

Some days my girls can be brilliant. Eat their meals, play nicely, minimal nagging. If faced with the Health Visitor or Nursery Teacher I’ll smile and say how good they are. 

Some days it’s like they’re conspiring together to push me over the edge. For example, last week we get up (5.30am standard). I free-pour coffee into a mug and after boiling the kettle 5 times between tantrums and dramas, actually manage to get hot water on top of it. Make them breakfast (Weetabix), which they don’t eat so the bowls are left on the table. Get each one dressed while they complain. Brush hair. Complain even more. Youngest wants teletetubbies. Oldest hates teletubbies. More tears. I treat myself to a moment of peace, washing some dishes. In comes oldest: “I need a wee wee” bah! Grab the potty: “can you use the potty please?” I then make the fatal mistake of turning my back; oldest stands up, youngest grabs the now full potty and in a flash is covered in pee. The cabinets are covered in pee. The just washed dishes are covered in pee. 

Without fully thinking I strip youngest out of the pee-soaked clothes and down to her nappy and ask (beg) my older girl to take her into the living room while I clear up. Not 2 minutes later I hear, “Maaaammmy, Rory’s making a mess” and walk in to the youngest wearing only her nappy, covered in Weetabix, rubbing Weetabix into the carpet with both hands. It’s 8am. 8am! How are we going to make it to lunch?

When it’s too early to drink wine, chocolate is surely the answer. This Millionaires Shortbread is undeniably indulgent so feels like a grown up treat but is simple enough that your little people will love whipping it up (and eating the melted chocolate).

You will need a 12″ by 9″ square tray or cake pan. Ideally lined with baking or greeseproof paper

Ingredients 

200g real butter 

200g self raising flour

100g cornflour 

100g caster sugar 

1 tin carnation caramel

300g milk chocoloate 

Couple of squares white chocolate if your feeling posh.

Preheat your oven to 180°C or gas Mark 4

In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar. Then add the self raising flour and cornflour. Get your hands right in there to bring the mix together. Your kid(s) will love this as it’s stupidly messy and yummy. If you manage to stop them grabbing their hair or face with doughy hands your a better grown up then me.

Press your shortbread dough into the tray until it’s spread evenly. We had alot of eager toddler fingers on our dough…

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden on top. Remove from oven and leave in tray to cool completely. 

Keeping in the tray spread the caramel from the tin over the cooled shortbread and pop in the fridge. 

Now 300g milk chocolate is a shedful of chocoloate. But I really feel this recipe calls for it. Most recipes will say melt the chocolate slowly over a pan of simmering water but that would be a full scale disaster with my two. So we blast in the microwave initially for 20 seconds then 5-10 second bursts, stirring in between until melted.

Pour over the caramel layer as evenly as you can. We used a palette knife to spread gently over the caramel but a spoon will do as long as you go easy (possibly a mammy or daddy job rather than toddler).

We then melted a bit of white chocolate in a cup, poured little dollops into the milk chocolate layer, and swirled about a bit. This is purely for ponciness and is completely optional.

Pop back into the fridge to set completely (2-3hours). When set cut into squares and devour! 

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Unicorn Biscuits 

Since joining Instagram I have been sucked into the perfect world of the #InstaMum. There seem to be hundreds of stunning fashionable mums with perfect makeup and not 1 millimetre of Ready Brek in their hair. One popular hashtag is #WhatMamaWoreMonday, where these beautiful parents display their designer outfits, usually with heels. I’ll scroll through whilst wearing my grey leggings and faded vest, sitting on bedsheets with stains that could be milk or toddler wee (it’s been a long night so who’s to say), thinking I must be getting something wrong here? They look amazing and I’m literally Worzel Gummidge.

But I’ve realised that these mums do not really exist. They look fab for an Instagram pic but five minutes after they are probably shouting at their 5 year for trying to catch a fart in a jar or wiping the hands of their 2 year old who wanted to find out what gravy feels like. I’ve realised because I’m so guilty of this too. I’ll put a happy smiling photo of the girls up on Facebook and neglect to mention the 4 meltdowns, 3 wet knicker accidents and a projectile vommit incident which resulted in the 3 of us having a shower simultaneously before lunchtime #SoF-ingBlessed. 

So in celebration of the mythical perfect mum, we’re scoffing another mythical creature- Unicorns! 

UNICORN BISCUITS 

This is a basic biscuit recipe and food colours or shape of cutter is completely optional. If you do colour your dough I really recommend a paste or gel colour as you’ll get a far better result. We got the unicorn cutter from Hobbycraft.

Ingredients 

300g plain flour

150g caster sugar

250g butter

1 egg 

2 tsp vanilla essence

Gel or paste food colours of your choice

 (We used blue, pink and purple)

Preheat oven to 180° C or Gas mark 4

Line 2 baking trays with baking or greeseproof paper.

Giant bowl at the ready! Mix the butter and sugar together until combined, then stir in the egg and vanilla. Add the flour and mix until you have a fairly stiff dough.

Separate your dough into three balls and gradually add food colouring until you have your desired colour. You’ll have to knead this which is quite therapeutic if you’ve had a morning like mine involving scraping Weetabix out of your Converse.  If using paste colours you’ll need very little (think a toothpick dipped in).

Bring your different coloured doughs together and roll out. The kids will love this as it takes very little rolling to get a fab marble effect. My girls thought this was amazing! So much so that they ate large quantities of it and eventually mixed it into a lovely greenish blob…

Roll out to quite thin, 1-2cm, and use your cutter to press out shapes. Again this is toddler-tastic 😊 if it’s a bit sticky add more flour and also use plenty of flour on the worktop and rolling pin. 

Pop onto your lined trays and bake for about 10 minutes or golden.

Once cool, decorate however you fancy 😀 we used a basic icing made from 100g icing sugar and about 3/4 tablespoons of water and sprinkles. 

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Easy Peasy Pizza

Kids have an amazing ability to have a favourite food for a good 3 months until they decide that they now hate Pasta n Sauce for example, and will only eat mini waffles (not me obvs my kids live on organic quinoa and Waitrose unbleached almond milk).

But on Tuesdays, every 4th weekend and during a crescent moon, my kids love a good pizza. So when I’m feeling brave and braced for mess, this homemade pizza recipe is perfect.

Not only will your kids be more likely to munch down on something they’ve got excited about preparing, but also there’s a good session of dough kneading. You can take out all your kids’ induced angst on the pizza dough 😁

This pizza base is pretty easy in terms of fresh dough making, and as a rainy day activity it’s fab as you’ll prepare in stages. First dough making, then as it rises prep the toppings and then assemble before baking.

Ingredients:

350g plain flour

200ml warm water

1&1/2 teaspoons dried fast action yeast

Heaped teaspoon caster sugar

35ml melted butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Carton of pasata

200g grated cheddar

Whatever toppings your kids will eat

Stage 1

In your largest toddler friendly bowl mix your flour, yeast, sugar and salt and pepper.

Add the melted butter and water and mix until you have a sticky dough.

Allow your kids to throw handfulls of flour onto your kitchen worktop and now it’s kneading time! You’ll want to knead for at least 5 minutes but up to 10 if needed. (If you need motivation try singing the theme to Peppa pig over and over.) You’ll want the dough to become less sticky and more smooth and elastic.

Pop back into your giant bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size (about 1 to 2 hours) and a bit puffy.

Stage 2

Prepare your toppings whilst your dough is proving (getting puffy). If your little ones like pepperoni this is fab for making funny faces. We mixed some passata with a few tablespoons of tomato ketchup as my oldest has a sweet tooth. We chopped up ham and yellow peppers and also used sweetcorn. If your kids aren’t sugar addicts, olives and mushrooms are also fab additions. Preheat your oven to 220c or gas mark 7.

Stage 3

Grab your puffed up ball of dough and lightly knead it out for a minute until you’ve knocked a bit of the air out. Separate into 4 balls and roll out until thin but not overstretched.

Now add your toppings starting with the passata and finishing with the grated cheese. Mine loved this bit as they could pile up the toppings. If you’re feeling creative or arty you could even spell your kids’ names in sweetcorn!

Pop into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the base is golden and cheese melted and bubbling.

And just when you thought the mess was over…lunch is served!

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Chunky Chocolate Cookies

Each night before turning the lamp off Mr Baking and I will say “goodnight, see you in the morning”. Then we’ll laugh and laugh, safe in the knowledge we’ll have a further 4 conversations before sunrise whilst seeing to our wakey children. Our girls are not ‘good’ sleepers.

As a result I live in a mombie (mom zombie) daze sometimes with odd shoes or only one eyebrow drawn on. If I’m asked a question that requires any answer other than a nod, I do a look like Joey from Friends doing ‘smell the fart’ acting.

So I live on caffeine and a healthy amount of sugar normally eaten in the form of chocolate or cake. These choc chunk cookies are a great happy medium as we use blocks of chocolate which gives a proper chocolate hit and a cakey type dough which is more chewy than biscuity*

You will need two baking trays ideally lined with baking paper or well greased if you have none to hand. Preheat oven to 170 degrees C

Ingredients

  • 125g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 1egg
  • 225g plain flour
  • 100g bar of chocolate broken into chunks or chocolate chips
  • Pinch of salt
  • Teaspoon vanilla

It’s time to get your giant toddler proof bowl out again. Mix your butter and sugars together until well combined then add the vanilla egg. (I was feeling cocky recently and let my 2 year old break an egg. Terrible idea- do not try this at home).

Pop your flour, salt and chocolate in and mix to form a sticky dough.

With a tablespoon gather a heaped spoonful of dough and lightly roll into balls as per below. These bad boys will spread right out so space them out as much as possible.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and fairly massive.

Enjoy 😊

*biscuity is probably a real word.

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Top 10 kitchen essentials for Baking With Kids 

If you have little baking experience but have decided to fully embrace the hot mess that is Baking With Kids you may be wondering what kitchen basics would be of most use. Here is a quick guide of our most commonly used items that should get you off to a brilliant start.

1. Weighing scales. Pretty self explanatory but you’ll need even a very basic set of scales to measure out whatever ingredients your child will later eat/toss about the room.

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2. Large bowl. Again I find the bigger the mixing bowl the less chance of flour ending up on your neighbour’s cat.

3. Cake tin. If your looking to make a simple cake some 8″ sandwich tins or a 2lb loaf tin are ideal.

4. Muffin tray. My kids would bake cupcakes daily (sometimes we do) and a 12 cup muffin tray is a must to avoid wonky cakes. If wonky cupcakes is your thing however then crack on. I won’t judge.

5. Rolling pin. If you do decide to venture into the mysterious and exciting world of biscuit making (or dare I say pastry 😲) then a rolling pin offers certain benefits over a gin bottle. Firstly it’s completely round and has a handle at each end and secondly it’s far more socially acceptable in the world of baking with children.

6. Cookie/pastry cutters. There’s plenty of fun shapes for kids about in most supermarkets but if your starting out a good set of round cutters from Tesco or Poundland will keep your child very happy.

7. Measuring jug. If you haven’t got one this will come in handy for anything involving liquids or as an additional giant coffee mug when you’ve not done the dishes yet.

8. Baking sheet/tray. Again if you haven’t got one this really is essential. Come on mate, sort it out.

9. Baking paper. I’ll always advise you to grease a tin or baking sheet as it helps the baked goods come away easier. However if you can line the tin/tray with baking paper you’ll be doing yourself a big favour. Your cake/biscuits etc should lift off beautifully.

10. Patience. See what I did there? It’s actually really hard work parenting sometimes and we all lose patience now and again. If you are getting ready to bake with your little ones make sure your feeling the chill and that your kids aren’t on the verge of a pre nap tantrum. It will make the experience so much better for all of you because, as I’ve said many times, there will be mess.

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Chuck anything in Chocolate Brownies

Despite what you say beforehand a lot changes when you have kids. You and up doing all sorts of things you never thought you would.

I never thought I’d mentally switch off when my child asks a question but after the 835th time of being asked “why did Mr toad scare the rabbits?” I said nothing and silently vowed that we would never again have Peter Rabbit on.

I never thought I’d wear crocs but after looking out the window and seeing my 1 year old pick up a snail and slowly bring it towards her mouth I threw on the pair of shoes next to my mother’s patio doors and ran..

I never thought I’d find Michael McIntyre funny but…Literally. So. Relatable.

One thing that never changed is my love of chocolate. These chocolate brownies are very fudgey and gooey in texture with a slight crust which we find perfect however if you prefer a cakey brownie you’ll want to decrease the sugar by about 50g and up the flour by the same.

We say Chuck anything in because the below is a basic batter that will carry anything pretty well. We have made these with strawberries, marshmallow, custard creams! Even if you have half a bag of Haribo and some leftover bounty from a tin of celebrations Chuck them in. It will work trust me 😉

You will need a 12″ by 9″ cake pan or roasting tray, lined with baking paper.

Ingredients

  • 200g melted butter
  • 300g sugar
  • 70g plain flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g milk chocolate (for a more grown up flavour use dark chocolate)
  • Odd bits of chocolate/fruit/sweets/biscuits

Preheat the oven to 160°C/ gas mark 3

Break the milk chocolate into pieces and melt in a microwave safe bowl using short bursts or 10-20 seconds, stirring well in between.

Get your giant toddler friendly mixing bowl (any bowl will do) and mix your melteed butter and sugar together until well combined.

Pop your eggs in and mix. Then add your flour, sugar and cocoa powder and melted chocolate. When nice and chocolatey mix in your miscellaneous bits. This is when your child will start picking lumps of chocolate or marshmallows out of the bowl and end up with chocolate batter up both arms. Maybe get a towel out ready?

Pour into your lined tin and bake for apx 30 minutes or until crusted over completely on top and cracking!

If you can wait for them to cool before cutting it is helpful as they’ll keep shape but if you do want to tuck in with a fork while still hot from the oven I will not judge 😊

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Keeping it Real Welsh Cakes

I like to think I’m a fan of keeping things real (apart from a brief spell in the sales rack earlier when I picked up a leather mini dress before remembering I’m a 31year old mother of two and my hips don’t lie). There’s alot of beautiful Welsh cake recipes about that have them jam filled or with chocolate chips but these are pretty traditional with the exception of sultanas rather than currants and an all butter recipe without any lard, because as much as I’m ‘liberal’ with my kids snacks, the thought of the babies munching on cold lard while rolling out dough is not super appealing. You won’t need much in the way of equipment for these. A round cutter ( 6cm apx) rolling pin, and if your lucky enough to have a baking stone lurking about then this

is it’s time to shine although, let’s face it who does? I use a non stick frying pan which has served perfectly well;

Ingredients

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 150g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g sultanas
  • 1 egg
  • Extra butter (few spoonfuls) for cooking

In the biggest bowl you have (big bowls minimise toddler spillages) rub together the butter and flour until all nice and crumbly. Then mix in the sugar and sultanas until evenly distributed.

Mix in your egg. You’ll want to use the moisture from the egg to bring the dough together. If it’s a bit dry add a splash of milk but you do want the dough pretty firm.

When all doughed up, sprinkle flour over your worktop and roll out dough to thumb thickness and cut out your circles.

Again your toddler/child will truly embrace this so let them crack on while you stare in slight disbelief at the volume of flour on your kitchen floor.

Melt a small amount (half teaspoon) butter in your frying pan over a low heat and cook the cakes in batches of 3 or 4.

Cook them as low and slow as you can really. 5 or 6 minutes each side until golden should do nicely. Once cooked, tip onto a sugared plate and turn to coat. Enjoy with a strong tea and episode of Ben and Holly if your lucky, Paw patrol if not 😉

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Foolproof Cupcakes

Sometimes I like to reward (bribe) my kids with cake. My bar for judging good girl behaviour is as low as my housework bar in that if we can get through breakfast without anyone being rugby tackled then its cake o’clock. Earlier I walked in on my two year old cutting the 1 year old a slice of banana with a toy sword and my first thought was ‘Yey! they’re finally learning to share’

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The one thing that my toddler always wants to cook is cupcakes. Possibly because the first part involves mixing butter and sugar together which she then eats in spoonfuls until I throw a few eggs in to put her off.

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This is a very simple 4 ingredient recipe which works just as well doubled and put into 2 sandwich tins to make a Vicky sponge. If your feeling fancy pop a pinch of salt and spoonful of vanilla in too but I’ve never had a child say “mmm the hint of Madagascan vanilla is only enhanced by the pinch of salt, mammy” so for the sake of simplicity here it is;

You will need cupcake cases and a 12 cup muffin tray:

Ingredients

  • 100g (1 cup) Self Raising Flour (if using all purpose flour also add a teaspoon of baking powder)
  • 100g (1 stick or half cup) Softened Butter
  • 100g (3/4 cups) caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 180°C (325°F)

Beat the butter and sugar together until it’s nice and creamy (very technical of course). Beat in the 2 eggs. Add the flour and mix in until its all combined into a nice beige batter.

Pop the cases in the muffin tray and spoon in the mix. Bake in the oven for 12- 15 minutes or until lovely and golden.

If your feeling brave decorate with whatever sweeties you have in your treat (bribe) jar and enjoy 😊

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Super Simple Flapjacks

Autocorrect likes to change ‘flapjacks’ to ‘flashbacks’. There’s an irony here in that while the kids and I were concocting the flapjacks I had several flashbacks to when my house was clean and to when I could watch an episode of Game of Thrones without a little voice coming down the monitor…

Flapjacks are great aren’t they? Because they’re mainly oats you can feed them to your kids for breakfast with minimal guilt and because they’re crumbly you can pick away at the ample crumbs 😊 (of which calories do not count).

Ingredients;

150g butter

100g Brown sugar

5 tablespoons golden syrup

250g porridge oats

50g sultanas

1 grated apple

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 160c / Gas mark 3 and grease a 30x23cm or 12″ x 9″ roasting tray.

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup together over a low heat until all has blended and is a bit gloopy. You don’t want to boil this or get it too hot. NB this part is very much all you but your kids will be loving life at the next stage.

Mix your remaining ingredients together in a big bowl (less chance of oats in your toddlers hair) and pour in the butterey sugary mixture. Let your little ones go to town on giving this a good mix! As there’s no flour or raw egg it is particularly yummy uncooked (see below).

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Pop your now well combined and half eaten mixture into your prepared tray and smooth down with a spoon. Bake for about half an hour until fully golden.

My top tip for cutting these is to leave them cool completely before cutting and removing. However this did not happen at our house this weekend. Between kids and husband ambling to get at the tray I was lucky to get the one crumbly picture of the finished goods!

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Easy peasy Gingerbread

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Ahhh what a long day! I’d love to say my 1 year old has now learnt not to lick a bin but tomorrow is another day. How about some small people who stay where they’re put and don’t answer back? Of course it’s gingerbread 😍

Easy peasy gingerbread 😀

The greatest thing about gingerbread is that it’s a proper rainy day activity. You’ve got the mixing, rolling, cutting and shape making of the dough, and after a pretty quick baking time and relatively short cooling time you can get decorating. This could potentially occupy a toddler for hours as well as providing a much needed sugar fix for mammy!

We used a standard cutter from hobby craft (5″ apx) and got over 30 gingerbread people

Ingredients

350g plain flour

2 tsp ground ginger

150g butter

180g soft Brown sugar

2 large tablespoons golden syrup

1 egg

Icing tubes, sweets etc to decorate

Preheat oven to 190c or gas mark 5 and grease 2/3 Baking trays or line with baking paper

Mix flour and ginger together. If your toddler is like mine they’ll already been shovelling this into their gob? It’s hilarious and horrific in equal parts as they end up with incredible dry mouth 👏

Rub in the butter until it’s nice and crumbly, then add the sugar. Commence further eating of mixture by toddler.

Next add your egg and golden syrup in. And mix well to form a sticky buy firm dough.

If the mix is a bit dry, add a small splash of water.

Cover the workshop with a good sprinkle of flour and get rolling and cutting. You often see the term ‘roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness which is meaningless to me so a toddler finger width is just fine!

Pop the cut shapes onto the baking trays and cook for about 10 minutes until they’re golden and smelling lush.

Once cool crack on with the decorating. Obviously this is fab fun for the little ones but I don’t know a single grown that’s passing up an opportunity to draw ridiculous faces on gingerbread people. If your leaving this solely to the kids your stronger willed than me!

Then enjoy with a cuppa or a vino whatever you fancy!

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Embrace the Mess     Follow us on Instagram @baking_with_kids

“Your kids won’t remember the messy house but they’ll remember the fun times”  I’ve seen this banded about in memes for some time. I liked and belived it until today when my nearly 3 year old said “mammy this house is full of lots of mess!” Hmmm I thought? It’s not me who smeared dairylea triangle over the staircase? 

 Since having baby number 2 I found a new way of dealing with the increase mess: Lowering expectations. My expectations of my own housework are so low, that this pom-bear/toddler tread stand off didn’t even fill me with dread…20170731_111135.jpg

So one of the main reasons people avoid baking with kids is the mess. It is inevitable but so worth the enjoyment your kids will get from messing about in the kitchen with you. Embrace the mess and enjoy the chaos that is baking with kids 😊

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