can be one of the most rewarding and absorbing activities for
a child, not least because they can actually taste the final
product! They sense that cooking is a 'grown up' thing to do
and this makes them more enthusiastic. Of course, careful supervision
is essential at all times. Many children's cookbooks with great
ideas and easy to follow instructions are available, but here
are a few of my own favourite recipes.
Chocolate Crispies - Melt a large bar of chocolate,
by breaking it up and putting the pieces in a bowl. Then place
the bowl over the top of a simmering pan of water until all the
chocolate is melted, stirring constantly. Then remove the bowl
from the pan, and allow your child to stir in some rice crispies
or corn flakes (and raisins if using) and then spoon the mixture
into pastry cases. Leave to cool and set.
Butterfly Cakes - (makes 18) 110g (4 oz) softened butter 110g
(4 oz) caster sugar 2 Eggs 110g (4 oz) sifted self-raising flour
Method: Preheat oven to 190 °C
/ 375 °F / Gas 5.
Cream the butter and sugar together until very pale in colour, light in texture
and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of the flour
with each one. Gently fold in the remaining flour with a metal spoon. Transfer
equal amounts to 18 paper cases standing in 18 ungreased bun tins. Bake for 20-25
minutes or until well-risen, golden brown and firm. Cool on a wire cooling rack.
To make butterflies, cut a slice off the top of each cake. Cut the slices in
half for wings. Place a little butter icing on top of each cake. Put the halved
slices into the icing at an angle to form wings. Dust lightly with sifted icing
Gingerbread Men - (makes 16) 350g (12 oz) plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda,
2 tsp ground ginger 110g (4 oz), diced butter 175g (6 oz), soft light brown sugar,
4 tbsp golden syrup, 1 beaten egg, currants - to decorate.
Method: Preheat oven to 190 °C / 375 °F / Gas 5. Sift the flour, bicarbonate
of soda and ginger into a mixing bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles
fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Beat the syrup into the egg, then stir
into the flour mixture. Mix together to make a smooth dough. Knead the dough
until smooth, then divide in half. Roll out, half at a time, on a floured surface
until about 0.5 cm (¼ inch) thick. Using a gingerbread man cutter, cut
out gingerbread men until all the dough has been used up, re-rolling and cutting
the trimmings. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Place the gingerbread
men on greased baking sheets and decorate with currants to represent eyes and
buttons. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Leave on the baking sheets
to cool slightly, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an
Melting Moments - (makes 24) 110g (4 oz) butter 75g (3 oz) caster sugar 1Egg
yolk a few drops vanilla extract 150g (5 oz) self-raising flour crushed cornflakes
- for rolling glace cherries - halved for decoration (optional).
Method: Preheat oven to 190 °C / 375 °F / Gas 5. Grease two baking sheets
Cream the butter and sugar together, until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolk.
Add the vanilla and stir in the flour to give a smooth dough and divide into
24 portions.. Form each piece into a ball and roll in crushed cornflakes. Press
half a glacé cherry in the centre of each biscuit (if using). Place the
balls on the baking sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets
for a few moments before lifting on to a wire rack. Variation: Instead of cornflakes,
use 50g (2 oz) rolled oats. Press half a glacé cherry in the centre of
Flapjacks - 150g (2 cups) porridge oats (rolled). 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
2 tablespoons golden (light corn) syrup 100g (1/2 cup) butter Pinch of salt.
Method: Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease a shallow
18cm round or 15cm square cake tin using a little butter or margarine. Put the
butter, syrup and sugar into a medium sized saucepan and melt together over a
very low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Do not let the mixture boil. Take
the pan off the heat and stir in the oats and salt, mixing everything together
well. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and press down with the back of a spoon
or a plastic spatula. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes until a golden
brown colour. Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Cut into wedges or squares, but leave in the tin until completely cold before
Pizza - Allow your child to decorate a pre-made pizza base with grated mozzarella
cheese, his own favourite toppings, and cook. Couldn't be simpler!