I LOVE BAKING! (I think I love it mainly because I get to eat what I make – and I love cake). But I know that not everyone loves it and for some people the thought of baking with kids brings them out in a cold sweat. So…Mumbler Hayley, who is a self-confessed ‘useless baker’ has written a guest blog for us with some Christmas baking ideas that she tried out with her Mini Mumblers – thanks Hayley 🙂
If I’m completely honest, baking isn’t my strong point. I’d go so far as to say I’m pretty useless at it. However, if there’s ever a time to roll up your sleeves and get messy with your little ones in the kitchen, its Christmas. So, with that in mind I took a deep breath and chose 5 Festive recipes to have a bash at whipping up with the Mini Mumblers. Here’s how we got on…..
Cheese Star Biscuits
My Mini Mumbler is a cheese monster so when I saw these savoury bites pop up a few times on Christmas baking blogs as being a good bet to try out with the little ones, I thought we’d give them a whirl.
We followed the BBC Good Food recipe which uses ready made pastry but if you’re feeling adventurous, the Sainsburys version has instructions for making the pastry from scratch.
I found that by using ready made pastry, my toddler could do pretty much the entire recipe herself with minimal help from me. She had a ball rolling out the pastry, sprinkling on the cheese (shard by shard….), rolling it out and then cutting it into stars. Once her handiwork was done I took over and popped them in the oven and waited with baited breath for the outcome…
I must admit I was quite impressed by the final result! The biscuits cooked in around 10 minutes and came out cheesy, buttery and golden brown. My toddler is a notoriously fussy eater and she got straight to work munching away at one which really is a true seal of approval! They were also great for my 10 month old to suck on. Plus, they look really pretty so would make a good addition to any Christmas party table – we’ve already been commissioned to prepare a batch for the family Christmas Eve get together! All in all, a real baking success and one which I think I’ll add to our Christmas repertoire!
Chocolate Peppermint Paleo Macaroons
Christmas can be a minefield for little ones (and grown ups!) with sensitive tummies or following a particular diet. I did a little digging around for allergy friendly treats to try out and came across these mint-chocolate treats a few times – they are referred to as gluten free, clean eating, dairy free, vegan and paleo on different blogs – so I think should be a safe bet for anyone with specific dietary requirements.
The recipe is said to be a good one to do with the kids but it does require some high speed blitzing in a blender which the younger ones obviously can’t do. My toddler did however have great fun measuring out all the ingredients and tipping them into the blender, and then moulding the mixture into balls onto the baking trays once blitzed. There’s no cooking required, you simply pop the raw balls into the fridge and leave to cool for an hour.
I have to be honest – ours didn’t quite look like the ones I had seen on the other blogs. I was expecting them to be soft and macaroon-like but they were more like hard blocks of minty chocolate. I’m not sure what I did wrong (anyone?!) but it didn’t really matter as they were still pretty delicious (a bit like a coconut-mint Aero!) and were so full of good stuff I didn’t mind the mini Mumblers testing them out. In fact, they were so quick and easy to rustle up they’re a good bet for a guilt free treat all year round.
My mother in law, is an avid (and pretty impressive) baker, so when she heard I was writing a baking blog she was keen to turn her hand to a couple of the recipes. She’s a biscuit pro, so these delicious shortbread Christmas cookies were right up her street and she tells me the recipe is so straightforward that my toddler really got stuck in. She had a whale of a time measuring out the ingredients, rolling out and slicing the dough but her favourite part was of course decorating the biscuits when they were cool. Cue Reindeers with wonky eyes and green lips! To minimise waste Mini Mumbler chose a few smaller cutters – teddy bears, snowmen and stars – to use up the scraps. When she arrived home with boxes full of delicious shortbread it felt like Christmas really had come early! They are seriously delicious and a real festive treat.
When we saw the gingerbread-men-become-reindeer life hack we had to give it a try. My biscuit connoisseur Mother took over for this recipe and used her own tried and tested recipe, which gives a softer gingerbread than you’d traditionally expect – great when you have teeny ones in the house as they can get stuck in to the finished product as well. This one should give similar results. If you want to stick to a more traditional, firmer bake this one from BBC Good Food is said to be a good one to try with the kids or, for anyone with a gluten intolerance we found this one from Doves Farm which says it is straightforward and is free from Gluten, Soya, Wheat, Nuts, and vegetarian. Doves Farm products are widely available so it shouldn’t be too hard to get your hands on them – try Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Holland and Barrett or Amazon. Alternatively, you could always buy ready made gingerbread men and just have fun decorating them!!
A seasoned baker by this point, Mini Mumbler got stuck in doing her usual weighing, measuring, mixing and rolling and waited patiently for the gingerbread to cook and cool before the real fun – decorating the biscuits – could begin. Imagine my Mum’s horror then, when she discovered her trusty gingerbread cutter had gone missing! Fear not – resourceful to the last, she discovered that an upside down teddy bear cutter also doubles up as a reindeer. Granted, they’re maybe not the fool proof pretend reindeers their gingerbread men counterparts are, but they’re pretty close! This soft, sweet bake was a real hit with the kids and ginger always makes me feel festive so I think we’ll be trying this again closer to the big day.
Paleo Cranberry Chocolate Chip Cookies
We stumbled upon these delicious Christmas cookies when looking for a festive gluten free cookie recipe. They go one better and are paleo (save for the white chocolate chips – if you prefer you can leave them out, use vegan/dairy free ones or even make your own – there are loads of recipes online). We weren’t concerned with being 100% paleo and I have a weakness for white chocolate so we kept them in. I found all the ingredients in Sainsbury’s save for the almond flour, which I had to get from a whole foods shop. The recipe is super simple though and my toddler could really get stuck in with virtually every stage. I follow a gluten free diet from time to time and these cookies are honestly one of the best gluten free treats I’ve tried, either shop bought or home made. In fact they went down a storm with everyone I gave them to – even my uber fussy Mum was quick to compliment!
There you have it – a Mumbler great Christmas Bake off? Hopefully the recipes have given you some food for thought (sorry!) and, for the less discerning bakers amongst you, the fact that I turned my hand to them AND that the results were pretty delicious should be all the encouragement you need to have a try!