What to do with curious and energetic children on a rainy autumnal afternoon? Get in the kitchen and do some baking with them! These simple recipes from various chefs will keep your kids entertained and encourage their love of cooking, as well as provide some tasty treats for puddings and snacks.
Nigella Lawson’s Cupcakes
Nigella always comes up trumps with easy, yet indulgent recipes. This cupcake recipe is simple enough to entertain children (and they will love decorating them), and also quick enough for busy parents to just whip into the oven in no time at all.
- 125 grams self-raising flour
- 125 grams ends caster sugar
- 125 grams ends unsalted butter
- 2 large ends eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 packet instant royal icing
- food colouring
- cake decorations (wafer roses, sugar flowers, sprinkles, or your favourite sweets/candies)
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF and line the tin with the muffin cases.
- It couldn’t be simpler to make cup cakes: just put all the ingredients except for the milk in the processor and then blitz till smooth.
- Pulse while adding milk, to make for a soft, dropping consistency, down the funnel. Or using a bowl and wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar, beat in the eggs one at a time with a little of the flour.
- Then add the vanilla extract and fold in the rest of the flour, adding the milk to get the dropping consistency as before.
- I know it looks as if you’ll never make this scant mixture fit 12 bun cases, but you will. I promise you this mixture is exactly right to make the 12 cup cakes, so just spoon and scrape the stuff in, trying to fill each case equally, judging by eye only of course.
- Put in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cup cakes are cooked and golden on top. As soon as bearable, take the cup cakes in their cases out of the tin and let cool, right way up, on a wire rack.
- Once they’re cool, make up a big, uncoloured batch of royal icing, and then remove a few spoonfuls at a time to small bowls.
- Using a bamboo skewer, add small dots of colours from the paste-tubs, stirring with a teaspoon and then adding more colouring, very slowly, very cautiously (pastel works best here, whatever your everyday aesthetic) until you get the colour you want.
Use teaspoons to coat the cupcakes with icing and leave each a moment to dry only slightly, on the surface, before sticking on a rose, daisy or whole stash of decorations.
Jamie Oliver’s Golden Syrup Flapjacks
(you can also add raisins for fruity flapjacks!)
Jamie Oliver is best for delicious home-cooked, no-frills, delicious recipes. Flapjacks are versatile, and great for lunchboxes, after school snacks, quick puddings, or even a hasty breakfast!
- 150g salted butter
- 75g light brown soft sugar
- 3 rounded tbsp golden syrup
- 250g rolled oats (porridge oats)
- Raisins (or even dried apricots) for a fruity version
Method (makes 12-16)
- Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan) gas 4.
- Grease and line a shallow 20cm square tin with parchment or greaseproof paper.
- Put the butter, Tate & Lyle sugar and Lyle’s Golden Syrup into a medium pan and gently heat until melted. Stir in the oats (and fruit if you want). Turn into the tin, level and press the mixture evenly and firmly with the back of a spoon.
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden around the edges.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes then mark into 12 or 16 pieces whilst still warm. Cool completely before turning out onto a board and cutting again with a sharp knife.
- Flapjacks will keep up to a week in an airtight container
Delia Smith’s Perfect Meringues
Delia Smith is good for classic recipes with easy-to-follow methods. Meringues are fun to make and delicious, crunchy, sweet and chewy to eat. You can also smash them up once cook and mix with whipped cream and strawberries to make Eton mess, or craft a Pavlova shape before cooking and decorate.
- 50g of white caster sugar for each egg white, so for 3 whites, weigh out 175g of caster sugar.
- The tricky bit is whisking the egg whites, but the way the meringues are cooked is important, too. The oven should be pre-heated to 150°C, gas mark 2 but do make sure you are not going to be using it for anything else, since the meringues stay in the oven until it is completely cold, so that they partly baked and then slowly dry out.
- The eggs must be spanking fresh as this makes them easier to separate. Separate 3 large eggs, one at a time, placing each white in a cup or small bowl before adding it to the whisking bowl. This means that if an accident occurs with, say, the third egg and you break the yolk, the other two are safe.
- For 3 whites weigh out 175 g caster sugar onto a plate and have ready a clean, grease-free tablespoon.
- Switch the whisk on to a slow speed and begin whisking for about two minutes, or until everything has become bubbly (this timing will be right for 2 to 3 egg whites; you’ll need slightly more time for 4, 5 or 6).
After that, switch to a medium speed for a further minute, then whisk at the highest speed and continue whisking through the soft peak stage until stiff peaks are formed. The whites should be all cloudy and foamy at this stage. Another test is to look at the whites on the end of the whisk – they should form a stiff peak without falling off the whisk. It’s very important not to over-whisk the whites.
- Next, whisk the sugar in on fast speed, about a tablespoon at a time, until you have a stiff and glossy mixture with a satin sheen. Spoon onto baking sheets lined with baking parchment (or a liner) ready for baking.
- Cooking times differ according to the size of the meringues and the degree of colour called for, but the general principle is – they go into the oven at 150°C, gas mark 2, the temperature is then immediately reduced to gas 140°C, gas mark 1 for the actual baking and, once baked, the oven is turned off and the meringues are left in there, undisturbed, until the oven is completely cold.
Martha Stewart’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Americans do cookies pretty well we must say. Here is a delicious recipe for some outrageously chocolate-y cookies!
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
- 8 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C, with racks on the upper two-thirds. Line two baking trays with parchment.
- In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy for 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture just until incorporated; fold in the chocolate chips and chunks.
- Using a 1/4-cup ice-cream scoop or a large spoon, drop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (you should have 24) and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Arrange 6 unbaked cookies, 3 inches apart, on each of the two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until the edges are light golden brown, for 17 to 18 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Bake the remaining dough using new parchment.
Nigella’s Marshmallow and Rice Krispie Squares
This is really an old favourite that anyone can master, so it doesn’t matter whose recipe you use. You can also decorate these with melted white chocolate. Yum!
- 45 grams of butter
- 300 grams of mini marshmallows
- 180 grams of rice krispies
- Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat.
- Add the marshmallows and cook gently until they are completely melted and blended, stirring constantly.
- Take the pan off the heat and immediately add the cereal, mixing lightly until well coated.
- Press the mixture into a greased 32cm x 23cm tin / 13 x 9 inch pan; you may have to put on vinyl CSI gloves and press it down into the corners, as it will be very sticky. Flatten the top and then scatter over the edible glitter or sprinkles, if so inclined.
- Let the marshmallow crispy squares cool completely in the tin and then cut them into 24 squares.