Saturday, January 7, 2012

Want the recipe for madness? Take Summer. Add Rain. Get a small child (preferrably your own, society frowns upon those who nick other people's) and an adult with ADHD. Cage them in a house with a total floor area of 80m2 from dawn till dusk. Disclaimer: Experiment not recommended for the faint hearted or those with pace makers.

On days like the aforementioned I find it so easy to fall into the technology trap. A little TV here, a DVD there and hey presto it's time for bed. As a rule such days also conincide with what I believe the medical profession would term "binge eating". It's nothing short of magic how fast a packet of Pekish Thins can disappear when you leave your hand unattended.

In our quest to reduce the amount of TV in our house, Scott & I have been seeking all sorts of fun indoor activities to do with our 19 month old. Simple right? Indoor activity. 19 month old. Roger. Alas I fear that to say your typical 19 month old has the attention span of a Goldfish would be doing Goldfish everywhere a grave disservice. Anywho, we both agreed food would be a relatively fail safe way to snag our wee man's attention even just for 10 minutes. So into the kitchen we went.

I'm going to premise this next part by saying that baking is not what I would consider a strength. In the SLIGHTEST. Left to my own devices I tend to produce small windowless buildings. Scott, fearing for the safety of the avarian population who frequent our yard quickly placed a "supervision only" clause on my baking endeavors. In short I'm bad. Kapeesh?

Now that's been said take a look at Exhibit A below.

Yeah, yeah I realise this is hardly the disaster story I've made it out to be. It was even (dare I say it) entirely edible.

No. What made this cake a complete flop is that it wasn't meant to be a ruddy cake at all.

The recipe said Gingerbread so off I went on my merry baking ways. Truth be told I should have probably read the ENTIRE recipe before starting. The words "caketin" and "cake mixture" would have surely set off alarm bells, but I was far too excited about the prospect of decorating teeny gingerbread men in uniform to worry about formalities such as the recipe. 

It wasn't until I was mixing 2 cups of water with the dry ingredients that something twigged that this may not be the biscuit recipe I had envisaged. Lesson learned. Moving on...

Using an Australian Women's Weekly Cookbook titled "good food - babies & toddlers" gifted to me at Christmas I started my "Vanilla Beings" journey with high hopes. The recipe did not disappoint despite my alarm at the reference to baking in a "moderate oven". What the hell is a moderate oven?!?! Yeesh.

For the record 'A 'moderate' oven has a temperature of around 180 degrees Celsius, or approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit. A moderate oven is the most common temperature in cooking, and is used for many dishes. Thanks Best Recipes.

Our kitchen is particularly UN-childfriendly. I involved Will in the preparation process by tying him to his highchair putting him in highchair so he could watch the proceedings on the bench. Failing that a tasty beater never fails to attract a crowd.

This novice had a blast but it definitely turned into an "Adults Only" activity about 5 minutes into the decorating process. My 19 month old is still a bit young to appreciate the awesomeness that is icing biscuits in bikinis. There's something magically tangible about this activity, the additional bonus being that it kept us stocked with tasty lunchbox treats for the rest of the week. Simply put it was the gift that kept giving.

Anywho, here's the recipe followed by some snaps of the process. I hope this provides some inspiration to starve the cabin fever at your place.

The Vanilla Beings
125g butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
2/3 C (150g) castor sugar
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2 tsp milk
1 1/3 C (200g) self-raising flour
1 C (150g) plain flour

Take artistic licence team...We simply used icing sugar, boiling water & food colouring

Beat butter, essence & sugar with electric mixer until smooth.
Add eggs, one at a time; beat until just combined.
Stir in milk & flours
Mix to a soft dough.
Knead on floured surface until smooth.
Cover & refrigerate for 30 mins
Roll dough until 5mm thick
Use cutters of choice to cut shapes from dough
Place shapes 3cm apart on greased baking trays
Bake in moderate oven about 10 mins or until biscuits are firm & browned lightly
Stand 5 mins, then put on racks to cool

Storage: Airtight container up to 1 week
Freeze: Un-iced biscuits suitable


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