This happens to be a very appropriate book for this half term holiday, the weather has left a lot to be desired around these parts. Yesterday morning it was bloomin awful, and today is looking even worse. Along with the drizzle, we've got thick fog to contend with :: I'm up in the Attic and I can barely see my town, let alone the hills today.
But still, I am trying not to complain, because in actual fact I'm loving being home with the Little People, and the dire weather does kind of narrow down the indecision of the what-shall-we-do-today question.
Baking seems to be the In Thing in our house right now. I mean, I am always baking, and have often involved the Little People in this pleasurable activity. But as they grow older, baking is increasingly becoming something they want to do for themselves. Which is simultaneously great and alarming.
Can you remember Little Man a few weekends ago, concocting his very own bun mixture in the kitchen All By Himself?? Well since then, he has really taken an interest in baking. I've written out a few simple recipes for him on squares of paper so that he can easily read the ingredients with their quantities, and the order in which they go into the bowl. He is doing great. He weighs meticulously, to the exact gram. He uses a wooden spoon vigorously, beats with gusto, so his buns end up light and airy. Of course, it's a little messy. Sometimes it's a lot messy. But oh, the joy! How can any Mum not be proud of her six year old almost daily begging to make buns, flapjacks, cookies??
Anyhow, back to the book. This is "The Rainy Day Book" by Jane Bull. I'm not sure if this book is still in print (we've owned it for quite a few years now) but I see on Amazon that she now has many other titles too, including a Baking Book, which will be a definite future purchase for my little Baker.
This book, and this page in particular has been so very, very loved over the years, not only by my Little People, but by various visiting Little Friends too. I've made this sweet dough recipe countless times when my two were little, and its a fantastic activity for children of all ages.
The ingredients are easy to remember, and the proportions are 1:2:3
1 part :: sugar (normal, white granulated sugar)
2 parts :: soft butter or margarine
3 parts :: plain flour.
For the quantity of dough pictured below in Little lady's hands, use 25g sugar, 50g butter and 75g flour. This makes about 8 medium sized cookies.
Simply put all the ingredients into a bowl together (make sure the butter/margarine is soft or it'll be hard work), and rub together with your fingers until the dough begins to form. For a little while it may seem like it's not going to work, it looks quite crumbly at the start. But the trick is to really work the mixture so that the butter warms up.
It ends up like a sweet, edible play-doh. Small children can just pull bits off, roll it into balls in the palm of their hands and then flatten/bang it into a cookie shape. when they are at pre-school/playgroup age, they are well accustomed to shaping and manipulating play-doh, so this comes naturally to them. Its a joy to watch.
For my two they will not entertain this slap dash method any more. Far too babyish.
No, they want a rolling pin and proper cookie cutters.
Ok, we can do that.
Little Lady chooses hearts, and little man goes for stars.
He does his completely unassisted and the cookies vary a lot in thickness, but it still all works out OK.
I resist the urge to neaten them up, to flatten the thick ones, to re-roll the thin ones.
The cookies get decorated before they go into the oven. Use whatever you fancy :: choc chips, sugar flowers, smarties, sprinkles.
Bake at a low temp 160/325/gas 3 for 15 mins.
You will undoubtedly have a battle on your hands trying to get the cookies from the baking tray to the cooling rack without little hands/mouths intervening.
They are perfect for a little Morning Snack with a glass of milk.
You may or may not wish to sample your Little One's baking efforts.
These are not the tastiest cookies ever made.
And somehow, the fact that the dough has been pounded between Little Palms and slapped around rather brutally kind of sticks in ones mind as one is chewing and swallowing.
But the Kids love 'em.
And thats what counts.