The Boy Makes…..Cut Out Biscuits

Like most nurseries (I guess), Oscar’s preschool celebrates each and every birthday in their midst. They invite the parents of the birthday child to come in and watch their child’s special day be celebrated by their friends (my guy’s school also carries out something of a rather abstract birthday ritual. The child carries a globe round a circle of children as many times as they are years old, whilst they all sing a song about the world. Yeah I’m not sure either, but the kids seem to like it). Said parents are also invited to provide a little treat for the children. I was so excited when I heard about this. What a lovely thing to be able to do and it was definitely something Oscar and I could prepare together. However, as is to be expected, the nursery have pupils with all kinds of specific dietary requirements. Oscar himself eats gluten free and he has a little pal who has a serious broad spectrum nut allergy. Meaning anything we chose to make had to be pretty well thought through. To the Googles!

As Oscar got so many lovely cookie cutters for his birthday, I decided it would be fun to let him try them out. That’s when I found a great biscuit recipe on the American site Momables.com. It was written to be purely gluten free however, I checked with Oscar’s pal’s mum and found the recipe was also completely free of nut contaminants too. Perfect.

A simple recipe

A simple recipe

I followed the original recipe, which being American, was measured in cups. However, because I’m nice like that, I have converted it to grams here for the baker who favours the scales.

  • 200g sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk (or water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your flour already has it, mine didn’t)
  • 250g gluten-free plain flour

I use Dove Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour and Xanthan Gum to great effect. You could also add spice such as cinnamon, if you were making these near Christmas

I used my Kitchenaid mixer, but you could do this by hand

  1. Cream the sugar and butter together
  2. Add egg, milk, vanilla extract and salt mixing well
  3. Add flour and xanthan gum if using. Mix at a low speed until well combined. Dough should come together well and not be too sticky.
  4. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour
  5. Preheat the oven to 180c or Gas Mark 5 and cover two baking sheets with baking paper
  6. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, as thick as you want. Mine were about 0.25cm.
  7. Cut out the dough with cookie cutters, and place the biscuits on the baking sheets. Ensure the cookies are not touching.
  8. Re-roll and re-cut dough until it’s all used
  9. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing them to a cooling rack.
  10. Cool completely before decorating. If you’re so inclined. They’re lovely with or without decoration
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Add butter to sugar

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The boy loves turning on the KitchenAid

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Scrape that dough down!

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Using his birthday cutters from his Aunty & Uncle

In the end I chose to make all heart biscuits as I reckoned they were a decent size. I got 24 out of this recipe, plus a handful of the smaller shapes you can see Oscar cutting above.

I decided to “decorate” them with a simple water icing. Unfortunately I had to do this when Oscar was in bed, but I totally plan to let him have a go next time! I think I used around 60g of icing sugar and a couple of tablespoons of water mixed to make a smooth paste, runny enough to drizzle. I used a couple of drops of Wilton colouring to get the amazing blue, then just drizzled the icing from the end of a spoon onto the biscuits at an angle. It did take a while to dry though so be factor this in when planning timings.

Lay the biscuits on baking paper before drizzling the icing over the biscuits. Leave until they are totally dry.

Lay the biscuits on baking paper before drizzling the icing over the biscuits. Leave until they are totally dry then lift them off and throw the paper away. No messy clean up!

They went down a treat with Oscar and all his pals. As one of his little friends told her mum “they had blue on them and they were yum”. What more could you ask for?!

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Gluten Free Biscuits – Happy Birthday Oscar

 

 

BakedPotato Mummy
Free From Farmhouse

My day out at Spirit of Christmas

I love Christmas. And I’m not just talking about the day itself. No I love the run up. Sometimes I think I prefer the run up. Receiving presents isn’t the big thing it once was for me. I guess that comes with age and having a child! No, its the festivities that come with the season that make my heart happy. I’ve written before about how much I enjoy the traditions and excitement of Christmas. You can read that here if you haven’t already. And this year is no different. I’ve already got Christmas tunes on and I’ve been burning my Christmas scented candle for weeks already. Good job it’s a biggun – it wouldn’t last until the end of November if it wasn’t!

One of the things I love about this time of year is shopping. No, I haven’t gone mad. I’m not talking about fighting other parents at the door of Toy R Us for the years ‘must have’ toy. To be honest I do most of my Christmas shopping online these days and have done for years. It usually works really well for me – except in 2010 when my beautiful organic Bronze turkey got snowed in and nearly didn’t make it in time – ooo just thinking about that makes me hold my breath! However, that being said, I love and I mean love a good Christmas Fayre. I love the chance to have a mooch about, discovering independent and often local retailers and although I can’t say hand on heart I shop exclusively local/independent it is something I’m trying to do more off. There’s nothing nicer than spending a morning wandering around to the sounds of Christmas tunes with the wafting scent of cinnamon and if you’re lucky mulled wine! One of my favourite local ones is at Secretts in Milford and the Haslemere Market is great fun (if a little chilly). If you’re nearby I’d urge you them to check both out.

This time last year I saw the advert for the mother of all Christmas Fairs, The Spirit Of Christmas Fair, held at Olympia. I knew back then I wanted to go and that my friend Helen, who’s more bonkers about the festive season than I am, would also love it. Trouble is Hels lives in Plymouth, a long old way from Olympia! So when she suggested she come and visit me this month I bought us tickets as her Christmas present. Which is how we found ourselves, without our children, on the 8.30 train, whizzing towards London.

Helen got a little over excited on the train!

Helen got a little over excited on the train!

The fair was everything we both hoped it would be. The stall by the door had wreaths and decorations made with a heady mixture of orange and cinnamon and cleverly put you in the mood as soon as you walked in. We decided to walk around the edge and then up and down the rows, which we attempted, but there were just so many glittering things to drag the eye sideways! We spent 7 hours there, with a short 15 min break for lunch, but not once did I feel bored or like I’d had enough. It was busy, don’t get me wrong, but not so as it ever felt claustrophobic, which is probably because Olympia is so huge!

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Never felt crowded

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Olympia is huge!

There was everything you could imagine from art to tea towels and firepits to tweed. And candles, so many candles! I had something of a celeb moment when we happened across Richard E Grant manning the stall selling his own fragrance, Jack. He was lovely enough to give us a sample and pose for a photo with me with all the gentlemanly grace you’d expect from him. I have to say I was a little star struck; Withnail and I is one of Ben and my favourite films. I walked away a little shaky and grinning like a Cheshire Cat. Helen on the other hand was unmoved, asking who he was again!

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What a gent!

Other than celeb spotting, I was actually looking for a bauble for this year’s tree (something I do each year) and whilst I didn’t find what I was looking for (despite the thousands of baubles I saw) I did get several Christmas decorations.

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These are cookie cutter lights. How gorgeous? I plan to wind them through a garland and then up the banister, as the stairs are in our kitchen.

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This is a sort of cage, it opens out completely and you can fill it with whatever you like. The stall I got it from had one filled with Quality Street and another with sprouts. And what’s more Christmassy than sprouts! I haven’t decided what to fill mine with yet, but I might just fill it with LED lights and hang it over the fire!

The second floor of the fair was devoted to food and this was the bit I was worried about the most. I know it was going to take some will power to avoid all the tasters that I knew would be on offer. And for the most part I did. Who knew there could be so much cheese in one room! I tasted free foods like turkey and smoked salmon and avoided the spirits. Helen got herself some unusual charcoal flavoured cheese, some Black Bomber Cheddar and some beautiful garlic jam. I also bought myself a couple of foodie treats:

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This I couldn’t syn, but I guessed it was better than a wedge of cheese. It sounds odd, but let me tell you if you haven’t tried garlic popcorn you haven’t lived!

I couldn't tell you how excited I was to find a Heck stall at the Fair. I've been looking for these chicken sausahes since our Area Manager told us about them. The lack of gluten based rusk and using low fat chicken means this whole pack is just 1/2 syn. Yes you heard me right. The WHOLE pack is 1/2 a syn. I bought three packs and let me tell you I wish I bought more. They are GORGEOUS!

I couldn’t tell you how excited I was to find a Heck stall at the Fair. I’ve been looking for these chicken sausages for ages. The lack of gluten based rusk and using low fat chicken means this whole pack is just 1/2 syn. Yes, you heard me right. The WHOLE PACK is 1/2 a syn. I bought three packs and let me tell you I wish I bought more. They’re GORGEOUS! EDIT: In Jan 2015 Slimming World revised the syns in these sausages. They are now 1/2 syn EACH

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I got bacon and mackerel from these people. I like a nice bit of smoked fish and whilst mackerel isn’t free (1.5 syn per 100g) it is one of my faves. This was lovely.

One of the best parts of the day was also food based. We managed to get spaces on the free biscuit decorating workshop run by the Biscuiteers. They provided five biscuits and everything we could need to create our own little Christmas masterpieces. It was just so much fun!

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I sat in the row behind Helen, primarily so I could pass her notes and flick balled up bits of paper at her head!

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Beautiful cinnamon biscuits ready to be prettied up

This picture was taken by the Sprit of Christmas team for their FB page. Thats my arm inthe top corner

This picture was taken by the Spirit of Christmas team for their FB page. I’m the one at the top of the table.That’s my arm at the very top of the picture!

My attempt. Yeah one is missing. Well it wouldn't fit in the box and what's a girl to do ;)

My attempt. Yeah one is missing. Well it wouldn’t fit in the box and what’s a girl to do 😉

We arrived home laden with our goodies and full of Christmas cheer. The aching thigh muscles didn’t start until the next day 😉 I would absolutely go again, particularly if I could go with such a dedicated follower of Christmas as my mate Helen.

Same time next year Helly Welly?

Same time next year Helly Welly?

I was not paid to write this post and I paid for both our tickets with my own hard earned cash. I did get a sneaky 1 off my lights, but I think that was because it was the end of the day and the guy just wanted me to stop talking to him 😉

Mama and More