Baking with children always seems like an idyllic thing to do, especially at Christmas time. You can picture the scene, mum or dad guiding the small folk on what to do, while spoons are sneakily licked and festive tunes play in the background.
The reality, however, as anyone who’s cooked with kids will know, never quite goes to plan. Weighing everything out first and having it all ready to go cookery-demo-style is such a good idea, but there’s never enough time to be that organised and it creates a mountain of washing up. Tiny fingers are drawn to hot pans and ovens like moths to a flame and inevitably, someone ends up losing their rag.
But, as new cookbook ScandiKitchen Christmas hits the shelves, I’m drawn in once again and set about making its cutesy Swedish ginger biscuits with my daughters, aged six and nine.
(Makes 50-70 biscuits)
- 550g plain/all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1tsp bicarbonate of/baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1tsp ground cloves
- 1tbs ground cinnamon
- 1tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2tsp ground allspice
- Pinch of salt
- 100g granulated sugar
- 100g soft dark brown sugar
- 150g butter, at room temperature
- 200g golden syrup
- 150ml double cream
Making the dough
The recipe says to make the biscuit dough in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. This is all pretty straightforward. I took charge of loading up the scales while Poppy, my six-year-old, yelped ‘Stop!’ when the measurements read the right amount. She also enjoyed spooning in all the spices. So far, so easy.
When the dough comes together, it is pretty heavy, so an adult will need to retrieve it from the bowl. But then it’s over the small folk to roll it into a giant sausage and wrap it in cling film.
Then it needs to rest in the fridge overnight. Prepare them for this. If your kids are anything like mine, the main joy of baking lies in the eating, so when they discover none of that is going to happen until the next day, there might be some tantrums.
Baking the biscuits
The next day, preheat your oven at 200C and line baking sheets with parchment – a boring job, but something the kids can help with too. Then set up a nice floury worktop, break off a chunk of the dough (there are loads), let the little ones roll it out to around 2mm thick and cut out an array of Christmas-shaped biscuits.
Rosie, my nine-year-old, went first. Sometimes the rolling out got a teeny bit thin but, generally, they found this pretty easy, and enjoyed taking it in turns to break off another hunk and make some more biscuits.
You can get a bit of a conveyor-belt system going as well. Because this recipe makes so many biscuits, it’s good to get each baking tray in the oven as soon as it fills up. And you can do that easily because they cook to perfection in just six minutes.
Once they’re out the oven, leave them for a few minutes before popping them on to a cooling rack. Pleasingly, they also cool down really quickly, so the kids can crack on with decorating.
We did attempt to make some of these into Christmas decorations, but my puny skewer holes disappeared in the oven, so if you do want to hang them on the tree, be sure to make a sizeable circle to thread your string through.
Icing your bakes
The best icing for these biscuits is a mixture of icing sugar, stirred into beaten egg white and a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice because it goes hard when it dries and pipes beautifully.
However, if like me, you’re in need of a break having got this far and just want to put your feet up and leave them to it, you can let little ones loose with colourful tubes of icing or even chocolate – sold in all good supermarkets.
These biscuits are actually wonderfully easy to make with kids, and if you can make them into decorations, even better. My girls loved it and having decorated a grand total of eight so far, there’s another 53 in an air-tight container waiting for them – perfect for the school holidays.
ScandiKitchen Christmas by Brontë Aurell, photography by Peter Cassidy, is published by Ryland Peters & Small.