My kids are great little chefs.
They love cracking eggs, mixing, stirring, pouring, sifting, licking – definitely the licking.
It’s so wonderful to watch the joy they get out of the tactile nature of baking and it’s something that really engages all their senses at once. It’s also a really fun passive learning activity that inspires questions about maths, nature and life. And, naturally questions like “Can we lick the beaters yet?”
But while baking with the kids is somehow wonderous, for me it is also a real test of patience and my ability to stay present. Because as much fun as the kids are having it’s not neat and it’s not ordered, it’s not Pinterest, or Nigella or the cover of Delicious magazine.
Not at our place anyway. In fact some of the time it’s a complete bun fight.
The kids make a mess because well, they’re kids. And I make mistakes because I am a novice baker and because I am only about 25% focused on the baking while the rest of me is wrangling the giant slippery octopus precariously balanced on two teeny blue chairs at my kitchen bench. (That would be my kids.)
Things aren’t helped by the fact that my daughter is currently a shouty tyrant who can’t handle not getting her own way without a massive dummy spit. Can’t imagine where she learnt that behaviour. Oh dear.
Our baking session last week resulted in at least one tantrum by her, one by me and in biscuits that spread all over the tray and ended up more a crumble than a cookie.
Still the kids didn’t care about the biscuits. And to be honest I don’t care either, not really. Oh sure, I’d like to produce dainty little French-style butter biscuits that stack beautifully and look divine.
But I’d much rather have a few laughs with my kids in the kitchen.
Watch them jump up and down with excitement when I finally hand over those beaters for a lick, “Yay!”
Melt when my daughter helps her little brother measure and pour something, “Good job Little Man.”
And be pleasantly surprised together when we pull something out of the oven that looks vaguely successful, “Oh WOW! They look good!”
So Friday mornings are our baking mornings and each week I start anew, confident that I can avoid frustration as I get better at embracing the chaos and understanding that the kids just want to have fun.
Next Friday I’ll be focusing on the process and not the end result, which ultimately does not matter at all.
Emma’s Fork Biscuits
Makes about 50
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup golden caster sugar
1tbs dark cocoa powder
1tbs hot chocolate powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170C (340F).
Cream the butter and sugar together.
Split into three.
Whizz one third with 1/3cup of the flour and the vanilla until it comes together.
*With the powder varieties it won’t seem like it will come together, but persist – it will.*
Form into small balls with your hands and place on a greased baking sheet with a bit of space.
Use a fork to squish each ball.
Put into the oven for about 10-15 minutes.
The cocoa ones won’t really change colour, but should be slightly firm to the touch.
Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Repeat with the next two thirds and another 1/3cup of flour each.
I find that because these biscuits are butter based and the ‘rolling & forking’ takes a bit of time (with the kids especially) it’s best to do each batch separately while leaving the remaining dough in the fridge to firm. This seems to help them spread less when cooking (and stops them melting while being rolled in little hands).