I love cooking and entertaining. I love making people happy with good food and wine and company. So what more perfect way to combine that in a glorious setting? And so started the idea of living in France and doing just that!
I love involving kids with cooking too, and have had a great time with some of the visitors to The Priory, when the children have come into the kitchen after dinner and they have concocted their own knickerbocker glories... complete with squirty cream, sprinkles and sparklers... such fun! It’s all about having a great experience as far as I am concerned. Little people toasting marshmallows around the firepit on a glorious evening under the stars with the barn owl circling the church tower is as wonderful a time as a stunningly delicious meal for us who are a bit older…in body if not in mind!
So, as it is Advent and we are getting ready for the Big Event, (Christmas in our household, whatever you celebrate at this time of year!) I’m going to share with you a great recipe to amuse the kids. In our case, as we had madly offered to join in with the Church Christmas Tree event, that meant making 95 biscuits (double the recipe below). The kids decorated a quarter before they were distracted, but we then had the fun of doing a few that were more suitable for a Pinterest photo…before we ran out of time and did the rest to look like the kids had done them!! Hey, ho….I’ve read ‘I don’t know how she does it’ by Allison Pearson…we can all fake it if we do it with a big grin!
I’ve done lots of recipes over the years, but this is the best! You will need cutters. Gingerbread men, stars and bow ties here…. as chosen by the children. This is actually the recipe for a gingerbread house (more anon...), but it is incredibly simple and the biscuits hold their shape really well.
250g unsalted butter
200g dark muscovado sugar
7 tbsp golden syrup
600g plain flour
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ground ginger
Heat the oven to 200 degrees / Fan 180 degrees / Gas Mark 6
Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a pan on a low heat. (Tip, heat the tablespoon for the syrup in a mug of almost boiling water. The syrup will slide off easily). Stir the mixture gently from time to time
Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger in a bowl. Make a well in the centre.
When the liquid mixture is melted and well stirred, pour it into the well in the dry ingredients a little at a time, stirring well.
When well combined, put the mixture onto a floured surface. Roll out to the depth of about two one pound coins. Using the cutters, press them into the mixture. Remove the spare mixture from around the biscuits. Lift the biscuits with a flat spatula, carefully sliding it under each biscuit. Place the biscuit to be on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
Put in the middle shelf of the oven for 12 minutes. They should be nice and brown and slightly darker around the edges. Allow the biscuits to cool.
500g icing sugar
Food colouring in different colours
Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add water very slowly until the mixture is a thick paste, stirring all the time. Split the mixture and put into as many bowls as you want colours for. Add the food colouring of choice to each bowl of icing sugar mixture. Start with a small amount and add until you get the shade of colour you want. Add more water slowly, if necessary, until the mix is smooth enough to be able to spread…it should still be thick.
Take a mug of newly boiled water and a knife. (The bit the adult must do). Dip a knife in the water to warm. Use the knife to spread the icing over a cooled biscuit. Practice will make perfect (but who wants perfection…the kids are doing this with you!)…and let the kids decorate to their hearts content! Repeat with the different colours.
Thread twine through the hole, and hang your biscuits on the tree….if you haven’t eaten them all first! Delicious!!
I hope you get time to make them – they are great as presents! – and I hope you get time to enjoy them! They are lovely with a whiskey mac in front of the fire - (but stick to milk with the little people!!)
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