Date & Walnut Cookies

You know it is going to be one of those days when you are up before 7am with the kids in the school holidays. You know it is going to be longer than you want when in order to retain your sanity, you start baking before you would normally be leaving the house for the school run. Before you start yelling at your screen that I am crazy, my theory that over the summer it is cooler earlier in the morning and therefore easier to have the oven on without turning the whole house into a sauna and turning your children into little dragons set to breathe fire at each other and at you.

Snipping the dates

We made this recipe as we have a lot of dried fruit and nuts in the house – it seems I always put them in the trolley regardless of the quantity that I already own. So if you see me anywhere in the vicinity of a supermarket until the new academic year, please do feel free to remind me that I don’t need anymore of the aforementioned item or even remove them from my trolley unless I can tell you their exact date of use and purpose.

It was another baking in pyjamas session!
Cracking the egg into a separate bowl to whisk means it is easier to retrieve any stray bits of shell!

These cookies are ridiculously moreish; I managed to polish of significantly more of them than necessary for a healthy diet (after successfully completing a spin class, but still….) and the batch lasted under 24 hours from when they were made. The kids loved these and enjoyed bashing the walnuts and cutting the dates with scissors. I did also catch Atticus squeezing honey into his mouth directly from the jar. I was so surprised that I admonished him and he was so surprised that he dropped it. Luckily in this instance the jar was plastic. It is also a rather good thing that I wasn’t planning on sharing the honey with anyone outside the family.

The finished product!

Ingredients

  • 150g dates
  • 100 walnuts
  • 25g melted butter/margarine
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 100g self raising flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1tbsp honey

Method

  1. Place greaseproof paper or silicone baking mats onto a couple of baking trays.
  2. Using scissors, cut the dates into small pieces.
  3. Using a pestle and mortar or a rolling pin gently bash the walnuts into small pieces.
  4. Crack the egg into a small cup or bowl and gently beat it.
  5. Place all the ingredients apart from the flour into a bowl
  6. Sift in the flour and mix until fully combined.
  7. Take tbsp. of the mixture and either roll into balls (beware it is sticky!) or just dollop onto the baking tray.
  8. Depending on the size of your cookies, you will have between 12 and 15.
  9. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden.
  10. Leave on the tray to cool for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  11. Scoff the lot with or without the kids!
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Vegan Choco Nutty Biscuits

Caught you!
Cookie scoop, she needed help to operate it, but was determined to give it a go!

We are not vegan, but I don’t think that vegan treats should be only for those who are following a vegan diet. Sometimes they are just far too tasty not to want to gobble them up. These biscuits are an example of a vegan snack that I could easily eat my weight in. Why did we decided to make a vegan biscuit though? As part of my seriously epic spring/summer clean, I have been double checking the ingredients I have stored in my pantry. My baking supplies always tend to overflow out of their allotted shelf space. I have come to conclude that I am a baking magpie. What I mean is that I am drawn to baking ingredients in the same way that a magpie is drawn to shiny things. So I buy things that I don’t have space for with plans in mind that may or may not materialise. During this stock take I discovered half a jar of maple syrup. So this meant vegan cookies were on the menu. Luckily for me, I have a little bit more left so I can make another batch!

Squishing to make the lattice pattern. Dunking the fork in water helps to prevent the cookie dough sticking to the fork.

This was another mummy-daughter baking session. She was her usual chirpy self and absolutely delighted with the fact that we were making cookies as they are one of her favourite snacks. It was lots of fun scooping the peanut butter out of the tub and dolloping it into the mixing bowl and licking the spoon.

Ingredients

  • 75g ground cashews (we did this in food processor)
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 100g smooth peanut butter
  • 65g maple syrup
  • 50g vegan chocolate chips
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients except the chocolate chips in to a large bowl and mix to bring together.
  2. Add the chocolate chips and knead with hands to distribute the chocolate chips evening in the mixture.
  3. Using a tbsp., measure of balls of the dough and place on a baking tray.
  4. Dunk a fork into a cup of water and then push down on the top of each cookie to create a lattice pattern (both directions).
  5. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 150°c fan.
  6. Cook for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and allow to cool before eating.
I could definitely do with another batch of these!
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Easter Florentines

There are generally copious amounts of chocolate in our pantry. I keep on contriving new places to sneak more into the house away from the kids’ (or my husband’s) prying eyes. Usually this is a challenge, but when we approach Easter (or even Christmas for that matter), my task seems to become nigh on impossible! However, I am a stubborn woman and where there’s a will there is a way! In our house, chocolate falls into several categories; general eating chocolate, chocolate for a particular purpose (such as a cake or bake) and Kat’s chocolate. Over the years, Simon has learnt, that he is better not to waste his breath asking me to share my chocolate as it will end in an argument. The safer course is for him to wait for me to offer him some. I am very good at offering him the dark chocolate, which he doesn’t like so I get to keep, but not so accomplished at sharing the chocolate that he would actually enjoy!

Easter baking wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t involve Mini Eggs. They are totally addictive and would be welcome all year round! This year, I decided to put Mini Eggs into my mum’s favourite biscuit – the Florentine. These Florentines are not at all authentic, but that doesn’t stop them from being remarkably moreish. We melted the base chocolate and allowed it to set in the bottom of the pan before cooking so it didn’t take quite so much time to make. Please please please though, if you are baking with Mini Eggs and small children do not ignore the step to crush them or chop them up.

Ingredients

  • 300g dark chocolate
  • 100g raisins
  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 175g flaked almonds
  • 175g Mini Eggs (crushed)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 50g melted butter
  • 2 beaten eggs
Ready for the oven!

Method

  1. Grease and line a brownie tin with baking parchment.
  2. Break up the chocolate and put in a heatproof bowl and place over a simmering pan of water to melt.
  3. Once melted (the bowl will be hot), adult pour it into the lined brownie tin and ask your little chef to tilt the tin so that the chocolate covers the entire base. Put in the fridge to set.
  4. Preheat the oven to 170°c fan.
  5. Put the mini eggs into a ziploc bag and bash with a rolling pin until they are all crushed.
  6. Crack the eggs into a small bowl or mug and whisk.
  7. Put the dried fruit and almonds in a large bowl and mix.
  8. Add the sugar, melted butter and beaten eggs and mix until fully combined.
  9. Add the crushed mini eggs and mix again.
  10. Remove the brownie tin from the fridge and put the egg mixture on top of the chocolate and gently spread to completely cover it.
  11. Put in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
  12. Leave to cool completely in the tin and once fully cooled cut into fingers or squares and store in the fridge. We left ours to refrigerate overnight before slicing to ensure they were completely cool and sliced with a knife heated in boiling water.
Oh yum!

Unfortunately we are not seeing my mum until just before Easter and it is highly unlikely there will be any left by then! Sorry mum! I peer at them every time I open the fridge, just to check they are still there (and inhale their gorgeous scent) and to ensure no bandits children have come to treat-nap them! I should also add, the kiddies had small squares. I did have a large slice or three after giving blood, but I considered that that was well deserved!

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Hot Cross Cookies

Working as a team to mix together the dough.

I love a good hot cross bun. They are wonderfully squidgy and are so yummy when toasted and lathered in chocolate spread (sorry I am not a purist as I am not a fan of butter). I don’t make a habit of buying hot cross buns until the Easter holidays as if I do, I know that I will eat them all and happily forget that the kids also enjoy them. My husband is out of sync with the rest of the family on this one – he would prefer, well not to be obliged to eat a hot cross bun I am sure!

Scooping out the dough
Rolling into balls

I have made hot cross buns in the past, but not with the kids. I remember it being a somewhat lengthy process and not necessarily compatible with my kids’ tiredness levels during term time. However, I did want us to make something related to our faith and have an opportunity to talk with them about the Easter story so I decided we would make cookies as they take less time. As an added bonus, we could make them smaller and perfect for an afterschool snack without having to share a whole hot cross bun and causing arguments over who gets which bit! I don’t know about your kids, but mine will argue over literally anything and make it look like an Olympic sport! Anything not to run the risk of an argument over what I would consider a small inconsequential occurrence, which is clearly the biggest injustice since the previous occasion!

Time to lick the bowl!

We used melted butter in these cookies to recreate the squidgy texture of a hot cross bun, and added orange zest, cinnamon and raisins to replicate the flavours of them. We used icing pens for the crosses, but my eldest had some difficulties piping these out so had help. Alternatively, you could use icing sugar and water, melted white chocolate to pipe a cross on them or cut crosses out of rolled marzipan to stick on. It seems the options are endless! Seb actually quite enjoyed directing me and rating my attempts at putting crosses on the cookies!

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 egg
  • 150g melted butter
  • 160g soft light brown sugar
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 150g raisins
  • Zest of an orange
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1tsp of orange extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° or 160°c fan and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
  2. Mix the melted butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Crack the egg in and add the vanilla and orange extract and beat it in until fully combined.
  4. Add the flour, orange zest, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda and bring together until a dough forms.
  5. Add in the raisins and squish and squash to ensure an evenish distribution of fruit in the dough.
  6. Using a tablespoon to measure, get small pieces of dough and roll them into balls and put then on the baking sheets. Remember to leave space for spreading.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Leave on the trays to cool as they are a little fragile directly out of the oven.
  8. When they have cooled slightly make the crosses using icing pens, melted white chocolate, icing or even marzipan.
Who wants a cookie?! Silly question!

These were delicious cookies. If your little ones aren’t a fan of raisins, you could substitute them for chocolate chips. Do let me know if you make these with your monkeys or without them as that is also an option!

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Choccy Toffee Squares

I try alone mummy!

I find baking therapeutic. I even find baking with children relatively therapeutic. This is especially true when the alternative is a 20-minute argument about what board game they should play or TV show they should watch or a meltdown because one little Gilbert didn’t listen to any other little Gilbert’s ideas. The reason for this is generally because any argument can be solved by licking the bowl or by consuming copious amounts of leftover melted chocolate. Yes there are times when the melted butter pot gets knocked over or the flour manages to escape out of the packet and everyone swears they didn’t touch it, but the good in it definitely outweighs the bad and most of the time I get through the activity with my frazzled temper relatively intact! Disclosure; I would like to remind my lovely readers that the more children you try to cook with, the more stressful the undertaking for the ‘responsible’ adult. As a mum who has been cooking with little people for around 5 years, if you manage to get through the planned recipe with no mistakes or cross words I salute you! You deserve all the chocolate!

When I managed to decorate without the children!

These squares were initially mummy-daughter baking time. The boys didn’t participate as they had agreed on a game and were tearing around the garden completely immersed in their imaginations (completely lovely to see especially seeing as it was a rather rotten day). But as is so often true, two is company and three a crowd so Ophelia was at a loose end. And as it is a darn sight easier to cook with just one child rather than my whole tribe, I enjoyed this time with just her and she seemed to enjoy having me completely to herself!

This recipe makes a thin biscuit bar coated in chocolate. Don’t be tempted to place it in a smaller tin for a thicker biscuit. It will fit in a brownie pan when spread out thinly – your little chef may need a bit of help to achieve this. If you are making these bars with small children I recommend using more chocolate to coat them as it is easier to spread a thicker layer of chocolate than a thin one to ensure that the top of the bar doesn’t get damaged. I think these are yummy with desiccated coconut or chopped almonds on the top. Unsurprisingly, Ophelia prefers them with sprinkles – the pinker the better! You will see that she and I compromised and both coconut and multi-coloured stars to decorate one of the batches.

Ingredients

For the biscuit base

  • 100g margarine (or softened butter)
  • 100g light soft brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g porridge oats (this recipe works best with bog standard oats rather than jumbo ones)

For the top

  • If for young children 200g milk chocolate and 50g margarine/butter
  • For older children 150g milk chocolate and 40g margarine/butter
  • Chopped nuts, desiccated coconut or sprinkles to decorate

Method

The concentration level was immense!
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c fan and grease a brownie pan with a silicone baking brush and line it with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the margarine, sugar and egg yolk into a bowl and mix until smooth, pale and creamy.
  3. Sift in the flour and add the oats and gently mix them in.
  4. Carefully spread in the brownie tin (adult help may be required here) and cook for 15-20 minutes until golden.
  5. Remove from the oven and melt the chocolate and margarine. This can be done in a double boiler on the stove or in the microwave. If you are using the microwave, melt it in short bursts on medium power, ensuring you mix it frequently.
  6. Pour the chocolate over the biscuit base (the tin will probably still be hot, so carefully) and spread with a silicone spatula. Decorate with your toppings of choice.
  7. Cut into squares while still warm and then leave in the tin until they have completely cooled.
The compromise: sprinkles and desiccated coconut!

Every time these are made I am surprised when they survive the night as I am always worried I may decide to sneak down stairs and devour the whole batch before the children wake! Do get in contact if you make these and let me know what you think.

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Almond Shortbread

Bringing the shortbread together. “I do it alone mummy”

Apologies for my lack of posts in the last week. I am undergoing a period of adjustment and for a creature of habit, it is hard to accept change. I find myself I torn between delight and the feeling that it is the beginning of the end. The reason for my current inability to decipher my own emotions is because my youngest, my baby, has started nursery. While it is true that for the time being she will only be going one morning a week, it seems to herald the true beginning of the end of my period as a full-time stay-at-home-mum. I am not quite yet rushing back into work, but I need to get my thinking cap on vis-à-vis paid employment and what I plan to do with my time. I wish that I possessed the ability to be truly decisive, but I am not ready for this new independent stage which I can no longer deny is occurring in my not so little littilest. So instead of researching what my next step should be, I thought I would tell you about the almond shortbread that Ophelia and I made together as the memory of making this with her makes me smile.

Gently press the almond in.

I don’t know about you, but I really love the depth of flavour and the texture that ground almonds bring to baking. We made this shortbread in a circular tin and adorned it with flaked almonds. It was a yummy, nutty shortbread which the kids absolutely loved. Yes, it is more crumbly that traditional shortbread, but I think the almonds make it special and truly yummy.

The aroma of this shortbread filled the kitchen for quite a while. It was such a temptation to eat it warm, but do let it cool fully in the tin as it has a very crumbly texture.

Ingredients

  • 125g butter or margarine (we used Flora Buttery) plus extra for greasing
  • 60g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 80g ground almonds
  • 25g flaked almonds to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°c fan.
  2. Paint the baking tin (we used a 20cm circular one, you could use a square one or even a loaf tin).
  3. Mix the sugar and the flour.
  4. Add the butter and rub in with your fingertips
  5. Next add the ground almonds and bring together with your hands. The texture will be a bit grainy due to the ground almonds.
  6. Place in a tin and pat it down until flat and score out your pieces.
  7. Gently press the flaked almonds on the top of the shortbread.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until firm to the touch and golden brown.
  9. Gently complete the slices while warm and leave to cool fully in the tin before removing it.
Ready to enjoy!

This shortbread was the perfect accompaniment to a calm afternoon cup of coffee. The kids also enjoyed munching on this on our walk home from school. I was rather sad when it was no more, but as it is really very simple to make it really isn’t a problem or a hardship to make another batch! I hope you enjoy this recipe and do let me know if you make it.

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Squirrel Poo Biscuits

The winning jump at long jump.

Last week, Atticus’s homework was about measuring. The instruction sheet came with a couple of ideas and baking was one of them. In all fairness, I do not need any encouragement to bake with the kids. I will quite happily turn pretty much any homework, assignment or gift into something I can make with the kids. However, my husband suggested it might be nice if I planned to do something else with him as their extracurricular activities are rather saturated with cooking. After my initial reaction of how dare he ruin my fun? I began to see that he may well have a point. For once, I am really hoping that he doesn’t decide to read this article as I find it very difficult to admit to him in person that he was right! So to have material for Atticus’s homework the kids had a game of long jump in the hallway. It was loud and jumpy and thoroughly enjoyable until Seb and I collided heads. I tell you the truth, my head hurt for a good 3 days after that bump. Seb told me he was fine not long after the bump and insisted everyday when I asked him if his head hurt that it didn’t. Mine, however, was throbbing… It must be that I just don’t bounce back the way I used to in my younger years…

Measuring out a tablespoon of golden syrup.

Despite having enough material for the homework, I really couldn’t pass up an opportunity to cook with Atticus alone. When asked, he said he wanted to make some chocolate biscuits with raisins. So I was racking my brain and focused on these biscuits. When I was thinking about them and the ingredients, chocolate, dried fruit and nuts and it reminded me of when my dad told me he always used to call Topic Bars squirrel poo bars. I mentioned to Atticus as a joke that they could be called Squirrel Poo Biscuits because they were brown and contained fruit and nuts which would all likely be present in a squirrel’s poo. This was clearly the funniest thing I had said in along time and I should have guessed that he would be unwilling to call them Chocolate Fruit and Nut Clusters after that! Please don’t let the name of these put you off making them though, they are really yummy!

Ingredients

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 60g butter or margarine
  • 1tbsp golden syrup
  • 200g nuts (we used a mixture of peanuts, walnuts and almonds). If you want you can toast the nuts before you start, but it isn’t absolutely necessary, it just adds a bit of depth to the flavour.
  • 150g dried fruit (we used half raisins and half dried cranberries)
  • 40g plain flour
  • 2tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Method

Stir it all around!
Bashing the chocolate
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°c or 150°c fan and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or greaseproof paper.
  2. Put half of the chocolate (we put the milk in, but you could do the dark or half and half) in a heatproof bowl with the butter and golden syrup and put on a pan on gently simmering water until it has all melted and is smooth.
  3. Chop or bash (we bashed with the end of the rolling pin in a large bowl) the rest of the chocolate and place in a large bowl
  4. Bash the nuts into smaller pieces. You can do this in small batches with a pestle and mortar or in a bag or large sturdy bowl with the end of a rolling pin.
  5. Put the nuts into the same bowl as the chocolate and sieve the flour and cocoa into that bowl too and mix to combine.
  6. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the bowl and mix so that the flour mixture is completely coated with the melted chocolate.
  7. Take tablespoons of the mixture and put them onto the baking sheets ensuring there is a gap of at least 3cm between each one.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Don’t be tempted to move these when they are warm as they will be very fragile. Allow them to cool for 30 minutes or so before transferring to a cooling rack and sprinkling with icing sugar.
All ready to eat!

These biscuits will last for 2-3 days in an airtight container. Ours lasted about half that time and were enjoyed by kids, parents and grandparents alike. My note to myself from this baking experience is that baking with just one of the kids is a thoroughly enjoyable activity as they get to do everything and I get to talk to just them and hear more about their day without a sibling interrupting them. This was so very precious to me in a busy week where I nearly missed out on the opportunity of hearing his perspective on life.

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Jazzies Biscuits

Following the success of our Fairy Bread and Butter Pudding, my sprinkle fix hadn’t been abated. To try and satisfy it, we decided to make giant white Jazzies biscuits. Just in case you are imagining an epic giant biscuit coated in sprinkles, I fear I may well disappoint you when I say these can only be classified as giant when compared to the actual size of a Jazzie! I should also mention, I have been calling these sweets Jazzies for years and I only just realised that the packet says Jazzles! I am going to continue to call them Jazzies as in my head it is more fun and I am struggling to get my head around a new name for this childhood favourite of mine.

I seem to have retained the childlike opinion that sprinkles make everything more exciting as these are essentially chocolate buttons coated in sprinkles and they never fail to brighten up my day or bring me out of a grump. I remember taking these to a friend who was ill when I was in secondary school to cheer her up. They certainly didn’t make her immediately better, but they definitely seemed to serve their purpose.

My kids love these retro sweets. Grandma bought them some as a treat and they make a very welcome addition to natural Greek style yoghurt for pudding. The kids take great delight in ‘hiding’ the couple of Jazzies they are given and then acting all surprised when a Jazzie turns up in their mouths. It is a rather amusing interlude before what always seems a long drawn out bedtime routine.

Anyway, back to the recipe. It does call for a lot of sprinkles, but I promise you it is worth it. We unfortunately ran out of the hundred and thousands which cover Jazzies pretty quickly so had to resort to using any other sprinkles I had in the pantry. Ophelia took great delight in telling everyone who she saw when she was eating one of these biscuits that we ran out of ‘dots’! This did then require an explanation as surprisingly enough no-one really had a clue what she meant!

She also had lots of fun with the biscuit dough. I am pretty sure she thinks we make a lot of playdough which when she is done with it goes into the oven so she can then eat it when it has cooled! I am not going to correct her just yet, as I find the mentions of playdough rather amusing; we are most definitely learning through play.

Ingredients

For the biscuits

This is a basic biscuit recipe. The below quantity makes 25-30 round biscuits cut out with a 58mm cutter depending on how thick your biscuits are.

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 medium free range egg
  • 275g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Jazzie topping

  • 200g white chocolate, melted
  • 3 tubes of hundreds and thousands

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°c fan and line 2 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or greaseproof paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together (by hand or with an electric mixer) until fully combined.
  3. Gently beat in the egg and vanilla extract.
  4. Add the flour and mix with a spoon.
  5. Bring the dough together with your hands.
  6. Place the dough wrapped in clingfilm to chill for around an hour.
  7. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is 1cm thick all over. Don’t forget to flour the rolling pin too.
  8. Cut out the rounds and bake for 8-10 minutes until pale or golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to harden for 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.
  10. Once cooled, melt the white chocolate in a double boiler. I did this bit for the kids.
  11. Put a small amount of sprinkles on a side plate.
  12. Dip the one of the flat sides of the biscuits into

    Seb dipping the chocolate coated biscuit straight in the hundreds and thousands.

    the white chocolate and then place it chocolate side down onto the plate with sprinkles.

  13. Cool on a wire rack with a tea towel or old magazine underneath in case they drip – some may as my kids had to be encouraged not to dunk the whole biscuit in the white chocolate!

I must say the sprinkle dipping didn’t always work out perfectly; we had some that went for a second round in the chocolate so that more sprinkles would stick on. My recommendation is to only put a few sprinkles on the plate at a time and replenish frequently or you may well end up with bits of chocolate in your sprinkles.

We hope that you enjoy these biscuits masquerading as giant sweets. Please do get in touch if you make them.

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Parmesan and Poppy Seed Oatcakes

Do you ever buy a particular ingredient for a recipe, make the recipe and then end up left with the rest of the ingredient and no inclination to make the initial dish a second time quite so soon after? The other scenario is that you end up being completely unable to remember for what you originally bought them although when going around the supermarket they absolutely had to make their way into the trolley. I can tell you right now that I have been victim to both of these scenarios and unfortunately on more than one occasion. Is this a symptom of ageing or having kids?! Or is it a combination of the two?! Either way it is frustrating.

I bought some poppy seeds a while ago. I can’t remember their initial purpose and the packet was open so I must have used them for what I intended. As I was taking stock of our pantry, which isn’t messy – it is organised chaos, I found them and started to wonder what I could make with them. My initial thought was to combine them with lemon in something. But, while looking at my list of ideas of things I would like to make with the kids oatcakes jumped out at me. Then I realised that we also had some parmesan left in the fridge from making pesto and decided to combine the two. I also like the alliteration of parmesan and poppy seed! The latter was, of course, a big factor!

Ingredients

  • 250g rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4tsp paprika
  • Pinch of salt
  • 30g poppy seeds
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1tbsp melted butter
  • 190-220ml boiling water

Method

This recipe will make approximately 35 oatcakes with a 58mm round cutter.

  1. According to Ophelia, the dragon was going to help too.

    Preheat the oven to 180°c fan and line two baking trays with silicone mats or greaseproof paper.

  2. Put the oats, salt, bicarbonate of soda, paprika, poppy seeds and parmesan into a bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Make a well in the centre and add the melted butter and mix with a wooden spoon.
  4. Pour in the boiling water as much as you need to bring the dough together. We used 220ml. I poured the boiling water in and we mixed it with a wooden spoon initially. Then I checked its temperature and when it was a bit cooler we used our hands to bring it together fully.
  5. Flour your surface and the rolling pin and roll out the oatcake mixture as thin as you can (some bits of ours were thinner than other bits) and cut out biscuits with the cutter.
  6. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the edges are becoming golden-brown and the oatcakes are firm to the touch (they will harden as they cool).
  7. Transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool.

It seems that Ophelia thought that the oatcake was playdough as she insisted on poking and prodding it while cutting out the rounds. I can understand why she thought that, and I didn’t begrudge her a bit of time doing that and she didn’t have the patience or concentration to cut out all the rounds on her own.

These oatcakes were popular with all the children. I even managed to polish of quite a few when the kids had gone to bed. They taste great with extra cheese oh and pickle, I really love pickle!

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Lavender, Lemon and White Chocolate Biscuits

I love a homemade gift. It gives me a legitimate reason to be in the kitchen with the kids making mess and enables me to create new recipes with new flavours (for us) all in the name of creating a nice gift.

We have these beautiful lavender plants in our front garden. They are a luscious shade of purple, smell lovely and never fail to attract bees. All of the children have at some stage enjoyed watching the bees on the lavender plants and it was here that Seb first said ‘bumbleey bees’ which always makes me happy. If I am honest I struggle to call them bees now as bumbleey bees sounds so much better!

I have been intending to make lavender biscuits for a couple of years, but they never quite made it to the top of my list. This year they finally did. I took some lavender, washed it and dried

Before the lemon zest was added.

it out in the pantry and then one day when Seb and Atticus were at their daytime activities I took the opportunity to make some lavender infused sugar for biscuit making. I left the lavender on its own in the sugar and then decided lavender and lemon would work well so also added lemon zest to the sugar and lavender. I found the scent of the lavender and lemon remarkably comforting.  When Seb helped me make the biscuits I had him smell the infused sugar first to guess the scents. He identified the lemon easily, but found the lavender harder to place.

We made these biscuits with gluten-free flour and regular flour. The regular flour biscuits were more moist and preferred in this house, but I have been informed that the gluten-free variety were tasty despite the more crumbly texture the gluten-free flour brings to the recipe.

Ingredients

Depending on biscuit size, this recipe will make around 20 biscuits

  • 200g butter or margarine (we used Flora)
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 8 sprigs of fresh lavender washed and allowed to dry
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 250g plain white flour (or gluten-free equivalent)
  • 1tsp baking powder (ensure it is gluten-free if required)
  • 100g white chocolate chips

Method

  1. It is nice to put the lavender flowers removed from the stalks and lemon zest into the sugar in an airtight container a day before you need to use it. However, if you don’t have time to do so just blitz them together a food processor briefly before using. We infused the day before and then pulsed them in the food processor too. Both and both flavours were present and not overwhelming.
  2. Heat the oven to 170°c and line two baking sheets with silicone mats or baking parchment.
  3. Cream together the butter and the sugar infused with the lavender and the lemon until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the flour and the baking powder and squish and squash with your hands to form a dough.
  5. Add the white chocolate chips and ensure fully combined.
  6. Divide the mixture into 2 equal pieces and make 10 biscuits from each pile by rolling them into balls and then gently squishing them flat on the baking tray with you hands (Seb used his fingers held together, but I used the palm of my hand and both worked fine.
  7. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes before baking for 12-15 minutes until they are starting to  become golden (and any chocolate chips near the surface are bubbling.
  8. Leave to cool on the baking sheet for around 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Nicely presented in boxes.

These biscuits went into school and nursery for end of year presents for the staff who have worked with the boys this year. From the comments, they were well received!

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