Christmassy cooking with small elves

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Gingerbread stars

I wish I could record the spicy scent of baking gingerbread and post it – a picture doesn’t really do it justice.

As it’s got colder, damper and darker and generally more Dickensian out there, I’ve been looking for more ways to bake with the kids. And ways to eat more sweet, spicy warming things.

My boys are really a bit young to be doing any very involved cooking but here are a couple of Christmassy (how do you spell that?) recipes that they could join in with and enjoy.

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Let me clarify what I mean by join in. Little B gets his own set of random kitchen utensils (spatulas and spoons are current favourites) and sits in his high chair bashing them together while we chat to him. He also loves the noise of the mixer. Finn enjoys hand mixing, turning things on and off (the oven, the mixer, the timer…), whisking, grating, spooning ingredients into the mix, helping to measure, and of course cutting out biscuits and eating the ingredients.

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Cut out gingerbread

My top two recipes for Christmas cooking with small elves are gingerbread, and breakfast pancakes with cinnamon fruit puree (recipe for these to follow). Both are possible to make sugar free and baby-led weaning friendly. For gingerbread, you can get the same rolling and cutting enjoyment out of this sugar-free recipe and be able to feed it to young children.

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Sugar free spelt ‘gingerbread’

However, for the adults and older kids here is my gingerbread recipe. It is a lot nicer than the more virtuous version, I’m afraid. It’s based on the Perfect Gingerbread by Felicity Cloake but adapted to my taste (an extra crunch from demerara sugar, and extra bit of stickiness from golden syrup, a bit more spice).

  1. MIX TOGETHER these dry ingredients in a bowl: 340g plain flour, 1 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons grated nutmeg, 1.5 teaspoons ground cloves, 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 4 teaspoons ground ginger.
  2. CREAM in a mixer or beat by hand: 180g soft dark brown sugar, 100g demarera sugar, 225 unsalted butter until fluffy. Then MIX IN 2 tablespoons golden syrup and 1 egg.
  3. ADD the dry ingredients into the creamed and MIX until you have a sticky dough.
  4. ROLL the dough out between 2 sheets of clingfilm, to the thickness of a pound coin or a little thinner. I usually do this in 3 lots to keep it a manageable size.
  5. CHILL the dough in the fridge for at least 30 mins – this makes it much easier to work with.
  6. CUT OUT your shapes, put them on a greased baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake for about 10 minutes at 180 – until starting to golden brown caramelise.
  7. COOL on a rack.

 

If you wish to hang them on the tree, stick a hole in them with a skewer as soon as you get them out of the oven – if you let them cool you can’t do it. I had high hopes, but they were all eaten shortly after this picture was taken. Likewise, gingerbread keeps really well in a tin… apparently.

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Tree decs that never made it to the tree
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