Herby Garlic Butter

When the boys interest in cooking began, I read about how you can make butter by vigorously shaking double cream in a jam jar. We did try it to make a small quantity of butter at the time. The boys were delighted when it turned to whipped cream and then the buttermilk separated. It was a very labour intensive way to make butter and considering all the butter that we use in baking, I decided it would be easier to just buy butter!

Cutting parsley.

While thinking about what we could make for a bring and share lunch with family, I remembered the butter I made with the boys. Ophelia never having seen it and the boys now being a bit older meant it was now time to make it again. This time we decided to make it with crushed garlic and chopped parsley for added flavour. This activity is really one in which the whole family can get involved. We took it in turns around the table to shake the jar. It also seemed to become a competition as to who could pull the funniest face and do the silliest actions while shaking the plastic jar. Yes folks, these are the activities which make up the funny stories and enrich memories!

Ingredients and equipment

  • 150ml double cream
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Small handful of fresh parsley
  • Jam jar (we used a plastic one)
  • Marbles (washed and we used one per child). The marbles help you to tell when the mixture is turning from cream to whipped cream to butter and buttermilk.
  • Rolling pin
  • Garlic press
The buttermilk separating from the butter.

Method

  1. Pour the double cream into the jar and allow each child to put a marble in.
  2. Gently bash the garlic clove with the side of a rolling pin to loosen and remove the skin.
  3. Crush the garlic cloves with the garlic press. My children needed help with the press, but were ever so determined to give it a go.
  4. Add the garlic to the jar of cream.
  5. Cut the parsley into small pieces using scissors and add them to the cream jar.
  6. Firmly secure the lid of the jar and start to shake it. This process will take around 15 minutes depending on how vigorously you shake the jar. It will turn from cream to whipped cream and then to butter and buttermilk. When it is turning to whipped cream the marbles will start to move slower and when it has become butter and buttermilk you will hear them clatter against the sides again more frequently.
  7. Pour off the buttermilk and then shake again and pour off any further buttermilk.
  8. Put in the fridge until ready to use.

We used this butter into two partially baked baguettes to make some homemade garlic bread. This was enjoyed by the whole family at our bring and share lunch. To make the garlic bread you will need to:

Placing the butter inside the cuts.
  1. Remove the butter from the fridge around 20 minutes before starting.
  2. Take the baguettes and make small diagonal cuts the whole way across each baguette taking care not to slice them fully.
  3. Take small amounts of the butter and place inside each of the diagonal cuts.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in the microwave and paint the baguettes with it to get a yummy crispy shell for your garlic bread.
  5. Place in the oven according to the packet’s instructions and remove when golden.
Wonderfully crunchy and buttery garlic bread.
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Gluten Free Cornbread

In case you hadn’t already noticed, I enjoy messing around in the kitchen creating recipes.  Furthermore, I love it when the children can get involved in making their after school snacks or meals and contribute to the activity. This makes me feel less like a general dogsbody and more like a proactive parent on a mission to teach the kiddos how to fend for themselves.

We have several gluten-free friends and as cornmeal is naturally gluten free and I always have a stock of gluten-free flour in the pantry, it made sense in my head to make this recipe completely gluten free. I like to have a bank of gluten-free recipes for bring and share meals and for when gluten-free friends visit so I am not always relying on the same ones. Everyone deserves a bit of variety right?! It is true that gluten-free flour does tend to yield a drier bake, but that said this cornbread does have a lovely taste and texture; the mustard powder and sweetcorn add a bit of depth to the flavour

Look at that mucky paw!

I made this with Ophelia and due to all the buttermilk, oil and eggs, photographing the process was the last thing on my mind. My aim was to  avoid the need to completely clean the kitchen or to give her a bath just before her swimming lesson. It also meant that my phone was mainly on the other side of the counter to avoid the potential onslaught of ingredients from an overenthusiastic toddler! At the end of the activity, I did have to clean the counter where we were working thoroughly, mop a splodge off the floor and frogmarch my daughter to the sink so she wouldn’t put the mixture on the walls too… But my phone was clean! There is a first time for everything!

Ingredients

  • 200g fine cornmeal/polenta
  • 150g Doves Farm gluten free plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 280ml buttermilk (one tub)
  • 20ml wholemilk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g sweetcorn (defrosted if frozen)
  • 50g Mexicana cheese, grated

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°c fan and grease and line a 20cm square tin. (You could cook these in muffin cases if you prefer, to make little buns)
  2. Put all the dry ingredients except the corn and the cheese in a large bowl and mix.
  3. Put the buttermilk, milk and oil into a jug and mix.
  4. Crack the two eggs into the buttermilk jug and mix again until the eggs are fully incorporated.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the buttermilk/egg mixture and mix until fully combined.
  6. Add the sweetcorn and cheese and mix so they are evenly spread out.
  7. Put the mixture in the tin and gently flatten with the back of the spoon.
  8. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
  9. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
  10. Slice and enjoy warm or cold.

We had some very happy reviews of this cornbread from not only my children, but also my gluten-free recipe testers. Please do drop me a line or leave a comment if you do manage to make this recipe as I love hearing from you.

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Fruit and Nut Soda Bread

It was bread week on GBBO this week. My original intention was to bake one of the challenges each week. But I chickened out this week; I went for a bread that doesn’t need to be proved and is therefore more suited to a toddler’s attention span, namely soda bread. Yes we could have made the naan breads, but they didn’t seem like a bread that I could give to my kids as a snack so soda bread won.

In my excitement to get started I neglected to put an apron the aforementioned toddler or myself. The result was a little girl that resembled an exploded flour baby rather than my daughter and a me questioning how I managed to forget to give her an apron. I have cleared the surfaces, but I am postponing sweeping the floor by writing this and munching on my lunch. I am very good at procrastinating. I know though it will have to be done before the school run otherwise the boys will trample it all over the house and that will be more housework…

Soda bread is made without yeast. The bicarbonate of soda was traditionally activated with soured milk. Instead of soured milk, it is more common now to use either buttermilk or a mixture of milk and natural yoghurt. The iconic cross dividing the bread into quarters helps the bread cook through, but when reading many soda bread recipes, I learnt that traditionally it was said the let the fairies out. This makes me smile and that is how I will put it next time I am asked why we are scoring bread!

Ophelia had a lot of fun with this bread, pouring ingredients in and squishing and squashing the dough with my help to bring it all together. She was desperate to put her beloved apricots in it, but they didn’t make the cut this time. She wasn’t bothered for long when she saw the raisins and dried cranberries though. That is one good thing about the short attention span of a toddler!

Ingredients

  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g wholemeal flour
  • 100g oats
  • 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 25g butter
  • 500ml buttermilk
  • 2tbsp runny honey
  • 75g chopped nuts
  • 50g raisins
  • 50g dried cranberries

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°c fan.
  2. Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and gently mix to combine.
  3. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl and rub in with your fingers.
  4. Add the buttermilk and honey and mix together with a table knife.
  5. Add the dried fruit and nuts and bring together fully with your hands. Do not overwork.
  6. Shape into a round about 20cm across and score a deep cross on the top.
  7. Put on a floured baking tray and cook for 30-35 minutes. It will sound hollow when you tap the bottom. If it doesn’t quite sound hollow return to the oven for a couple of minutes and keep a close eye on it.
  8. Put on a wire rack to cool and cover with a tea towel.

To serve you can break the bread into quarters and slice them into small pieces or you can simply slice across the whole loaf. This bread is best eaten fresh, we stored ours wrapped in a tea towel and in a Tupperware container. We had finished the loaf the day after making it!

Let me know if your little one enjoyed helping you make soda bread. Ophelia was very happy to take some to her brothers after school the day she made it. Oh and you will be delighted to hear that I also swept the floor before the school run thus preventing the kids from trampling the excess flour all over the house after school. It was a productive day.

 

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