Baking - things I have learnt along the way...
Just in case you don't follow me on Facebook or Instagram... I thought I would bring you up-to-date, and share some of things I have learnt along the way... especially when baking with children!
I literally only started baking last month - previous to this you could count on one hand how many times I had attempted to bake biscuits or cakes; and in this time I have managed to bake with my two year old daughter successfully, and also bake some gluten-free biscuits and carrot cake for my husband. It is SO much easier than I had ever expected, and I can't believe I have never bothered to try before... it has always been placed in the 'too hard basket' prior, and I thought that once I had small children I'd never find the time to do it!
So - the first thing I have learnt is:
1) Never dis it until you try it!!!!!!
That top left photo are of the very first biscuits I baked - the square ones are chocolate chippies, and the round ones are coffee cookies (with chocolate chips - divine, I couldn't help myself *grin*)!
Then the other photos are just of the next few batches of baking I have done (the bottom right will have it's own set of photos and explanations further down the post)... I promise I haven't photographed every single baking spree; but I was just so darn proud of myself those first few times that I took loads of photos!
2) Always check you have the ingredients before starting, and get them out and have them on hand as well... especially with biscuits; they're a quick bake! I always do more than one batch at a time, or make a double batch; biscuits generally need a reasonably hot oven and only a short time in there. If all your ingredients are handy - you can quickly whip up a second batch while the first are cooking, and then throw them into the oven once the first lot are done!
3) Always try the recipe first, before attempting to bake with small children... this way you know the steps, what needs to happen and can be a step ahead of them at all times! Toddlers and biscuits need constant attention :-)!
I love this chocolate chip recipe, as it requires you to pop it into the fridge for half an hour, this allows you to then roll it out and let your child use cookie cutters to make different shapes... it is fun, and they seem to love it!
It also then gives you the time to whip up another batch of different cookies - I have been known to leave it in the fridge for 1.5 hours, and it was still perfectly fine!
4) If you're planning on decorating your biscuits with icing and/or other decorations (sprinkles, chocolate chippies, small marshmellows etc), then make sure you make BIG cookies... small cookies and big batches means it not only takes a lot of TIME! The chances are you'll be trying to finish them alone while watching the kid(s), and also likely trying to discourage the toddler from eating more decorations than she is putting on said biscuits! READ: sugar-high!!!!!
I speak from experience!
But oh that look of pride when she finished decorating (with help of course) that first tray of biscuits!
And even now (we still have some left) she often asks for 'a biscuit that me and Mummy made please'!!!!
These are gluten-free again, I just found a basic sugar cookie recipe, and used gluten-free flour... think most of our baking from now on will be g-f, as it is just easier due to allergies. Baking that I am doing for others over Christmas won't be, of course, but I will need to do some dairy-free cookies for extended family; interesting!
5) Baking for those with allergies needn't be scary!
My hubby is intolerant to gluten, and I finally plucked up the courage to buy some gluten-free flour last month - and really, there is very little difference in taste or cooking; the texture is finer, so it feels different when prepping... but that's about it! There are SO many recipes out there that take allergies (gluten and dairy in particular) into account, that you never really have to feel like you're missing out, it's great.
Here is some of my gluten-free baking...
Top left - first ever batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies; tasted better than they looked.
Top Right - second batch using the same recipe, just added a bit more flour to make it easier to roll and shape - looks 100% better though.
Bottom - Gluten-free carrot cake by Nigella Lawson, recipe found here!
Go on - give it one more go; if I can do it - anyone can, trust me!
I got the best compliment last night... I rang hubby at 4:20pm and told him he'd be on cooking as I had a cling-on ('lil M's top teeth are breaking through), and hadn't been able to do anything all day - even after I'd pamoled him; poor little chap! Hubby was great, and despite a busy day at work - he came home, got straight into the kitchen and started cooking...
After dinner he said 'I guess dinner was okay, but it wasn't as good as your dinners are'! Awww, heart-melt moment!!!!! That is HUGE for me, as only a few months ago my family were getting the same 'ole, same 'ole treatment, and we were ALL hating them (even Button wasn't keen)... I just didn't know how to get out of that rut due to all the issues we were having with allergies (Button was also allergic, as a baby, to dairy, egg and nuts, but appears to have out-grown it all), and I was on a VERY restrictive diet due to 'lil M having a sensitive tummy as a wee babe. But now we're only dealing with the gluten issue once more, as 'lil M can handle me eating anything... life has changed dramtically, and I am enjoying cooking a lot more (and it appears everyone is enjoying eating it more also)!
Tomorrow we are all going in to hubby's work for morning tea, it is a late birthday shout for hubby combined with end-of-year celebrations... I will be taking in my Coffee Biscuits, so will be baking up a storm again tonight! Then over the weekend Button and I will be making some more Sugar Cookies, (got some Christmas Cookie Cutters last night, wahoo), and icing them to share with family on Christmas Day!
I think I am going to be dreaming of baking soon... it feels like I have gone from never baking, to baking almost every day at the moment! Oh well - I am sure it'll settle down again soon!