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

 

 

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Free From Farmhouse

Pretzel Pumpkins

Whether you subscribe to the traditions or even agree with it, Halloween in it’s current form is big business . Some years I join in, others I don’t. What can I say, I have a take it or leave it attitude towards dressing up and the boy is really too young to get involved. However, this year I have found myself feeling a little bit of Halloween love, partly because I was invited to several Halloween parties and partly thanks to the time vortex that is Pinterest! While this isn’t a post about Halloween as a festival or any of the other issues surrounding it (is it too commercial?, are we feeding our children too much sugar?, is trick or treating safe? etc, all of which are valid questions and should be answered by more learned folk than me!), it is about something I’ve made to give to friends this Halloween.

pumpkin

You may have seen my pictures on Instagram or Facebook of the Pretzel Pumpkins I made for the children’s party yesterday. I originally found them, via Pinterest, on a blog called Butter with a Side of Bread and couldn’t get over how cute and easy they looked. The hollows in the pretzels resemble the face of a pumpkin when covered in chocolate and despite never really going for anything quite so cutesy, this year I just couldn’t help myself! No they are not Slimming World friendly (I couldn’t even hazard a guess at how many syns one would be) but they went down a storm, with both the ladies and the children yesterday, so I’ve made some more for today’s party. And as so many people have asked me how I made them, I thought I’d write it up. You wont believe how easy they are.

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Ingredients. 300g of white chocolate, 1 tbsp of shortening, Pretzels, orange food colouring and green M&Ms.

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Break the white chocolate up and melt. I always melt chocolate in the microwave, but go slowly. This much only took 1 min and 10 secs. I’d start with 30 seconds, stir then blast again for another 30 seconds, stirring well each time.

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The shortening is to make the chocolate thick enough to coat, but thin enough to show the hollows of the pretzels (the face of the pumpkin). Melt it with the chocolate.

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I used about a teaspoon of this super concentrated Wilton colour, but you may need more or less depending on the type and brand you use. I think pastes would be better for this strong colour.

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I go slowly with the colour, adding a drop at a time, then stirring really well before adding more. Keep going until the colour is as bright as you want, but remember you can always add more, you can’t take it away! I used my glass jug as it doesn’t take on any colour.

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Separate out the green M&Ms. This many came from two large bags. Which does now mean I have lots of M&Ms left over. Not that Ben seems to mind! Someone suggested using green Smarties. Personally I think they’d be too big, but go for it if you’d rather.

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Then getting dipping. As messy as it may look I found using good old (clean) fingers was the best and neatest way to do this. Lay the wet pretzel on a baking sheet covered in greaseproof paper and gently push an M&M into the crook at the top while the chocolate is still wet.

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Now you could let them harden in a cool room, but as I have no particularly cold areas of my house and a curious toddler flying around, I felt it safer all round to put them in the fridge. Yes the chocolate sets too quickly and you loose that shine, but really, it was that or a wet chocolate pretzel covered toddler. And any way I don’t mind the matte look.

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And there you go. Peel them off the paper when set and enjoy. Even those who were dubious about the coloured white chocolate loved them.

I loved making them so much. I noticed the pretzel shape is also one of a heart. I think I may have a crack at making red ones for Valentines Day, although as you wont need to the see the hollows I might leave the shortening out.

Happy Halloween folks!

 

 

 

 Toddler Approved Tuesday
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