Gingerbread cookies

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It seems that the images of gingerbread cookies would pop up each time I went into IG or FB and this spur me to bake my own gingerbread cookies. It was timely too since I have just read The Gingerbread Man story to Faith and I had wanted to have a baking session that is related to the story.

I only know one recipe for such a cookie and that is from Dorie Greenspan. Her speculoos’ recipe is awesome and I know I will not need to look any further. Speculoos are crisp brown-sugar cookies whose predominant spice is cinnamon. Eating them will definitely make you think of Christmas.

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This recipe yields about 24 large cookies and the rolled-out dough needs to be chilled for at least 3 hours.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour20151221_081308
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 98g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature

1. Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, and spices together in a bowl.

2. Working in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and continue to beat until it, too, is blended into the butter and sugars. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until the flour disappears into the soft dough. You may have some flour at the bottom of the bowl, or the dough may not be entirely smooth, but that’s normal. Using your hands or a spatula, reach into the bowl and knead or stir the dough 2 or 3 times, just enough to get rid of any dry spots.

3. Divide the dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll the dough between two sheets of wax paper until you have a circle that’s about ¼ inch thick. As you’re rolling, turn the dough over a couple of times and pull away the paper or plastic, so you don’t have rolling creases in the dough. Put the rolled-out rounds of dough on a cutting board and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days)

4. When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Choose a cookie cutter and remove 1 circle of dough from the refrigerator. Peel off the top piece of wax paper or plastic and cut out as many cookies as you can from the dough, carefully lifting the cutouts onto the lined baking sheet. Collect the scraps and set them aside to combine with the scraps from the second piece of dough.

6. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes (or 12 minutes in my case for large cookies), or until they are lightly golden and brown around the edges.  Allow the cookies to rest on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
7. Repeat with the second round of dough, making certain the baking sheet is cool before you put the cutouts on it. To use the scraps, press them together, roll them into a circle, and chill them before cutting and baking.
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I got the little girl to decorate the gingerbread man using sprinkles after I have piped the border using Royal Icing. While in the midst of doing it, the baby decided to poo BIG time and I had to leave the job to Faith while I bathed him. When I came back, she had taken the piping bag and piped on two cookies.
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These are her creation.
A piece of art, I must say. ;p
I will get her to do a better job next year.

Book Study -One Smart Cookie

[This post is first published in the Asian parent]

Reading is one of our favourite past time and recently, I decided to plan learning activities based on the stories that we have read. One of the titles is ‘One Smart Cookie’ and boy, did we have fun!

I must say that the content of this story is a tad difficult for a 3-year-old but we can always improvise. I like it that the illustration is clear and that there are values that we can learn from the story. We read the story once through before the commencement of each activity. Don’t worry, the kiddo doesn’t mind rereading the book.

onesmartcookie1

One smart cookie : bite-size lessons for the school years and beyond
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Available in NLB
Call Number: English ROS

Practical Life

Faith and I had a baking session after reading this book. Since it is about cookies, I got the girl to help me bake a batch of buckwheat cookies. During the process, I introduced her to the names of the various equipment as well as the ingredients. The little girl was proud to be able to assist her mother and definitely enjoyed the cookies after they came out of the oven!

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Values

One of the words in the story that I want to highlight to Faith is ‘Kindness’ and that means giving some of the cookies to her friends. I got her to pack them in a bag and give it to a family whom we were visiting the other day. The word literally came alive!

Art & imaginative play

Faith loves to play with playdoh and it would be fun to get her to cut out various shapes from the cookie cutters and decorate the cookies herself. It was followed by a time of pretend play in which she ‘baked’ the cookies in her own kitchen oven and then offered the baked goods to her furry friends, the soft toys. So much conversation was taking place!

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Math

Numbers and counting can be boring on paper. Why not use food to make it more interesting? After printing out pictures of cookies, I laminated them and have Faith count and put the specific number of M & Ms needed onto the cookies. There was so much energy and motivation from the little girl. Who says Maths is boring? 😉

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Language arts

C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me

Oh, cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C

After reading the story, I got Faith to think about words that start with C and to revise the initial sound ‘C’ with Faith.  Scaffolding is needed and I thought the video on C is for Cookie helps to set the stage for this activity.

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What would the next title be, I wonder?

Coconut bread roll

Last week, my friend, T, invited us to her place and got the little ones to help with baking bread roll. I must say it was fun and the bread delicious and the thick-skinned me got her to share the recipe with me. She got it via a Chinese app and since my Chinese isn’t that good, she translated the ingredients and their quantity for me. I finally got down to baking it this morning so here’s a record of it.

Bread dough

250g bread flour
30g castor sugar
2g salt
3.5g yeast
40g egg
50g whipping cream
75g milk (slightly warm so that it can activate the yeast)
15g unsalted butter at room temperature

I didn’t have the bread maker and did the dough using the standmixer with the dough hook. Basically place all the ingredients together except for the butter and mix together. When they are mixed well, add in the butter and continue to knead until the dough no longer sticks to the side of the mixer bowl. Then run the window pane test.

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Once it’s ready, place it in a lightly oiled bowl and let it proof for about 40 min to 1 hour or until it has increased to double the volume.

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While waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the next set of ingredients – the coconut spread.

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70g coconut flakes (from Cold Storage)
40g egg
25g castor sugar
15g milk powder
10g unsalted butter at room temperature

Mix all the above ingredients together except for the coconut flakes.

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The recipe given recommended using a cake tin that measures 27.6 x 17.8cm but I just use whatever tin or baking tray I have.

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Roll the dough into a rectangular shape and spread the mixture onto the dough.

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Sprinkle the coconut flakes on top of the mixture evenly and then roll the dough from the furthest end to the one nearest to you.

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Cut the dough into 12 pieces and place them onto the baking tray.

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After this, let it proof for about 20 minutes. Do allow some space in between each roll as they will expand when they are being baked. Meanwhile, switch on the oven to 180C.

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Before placing the tray into the oven, I did an egg wash with the remaining amount of egg. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.

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So, that’s lunch for today. Thanks, Trisa for sharing the recipe! I hope I have translated correctly!

Some photos from that day…

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😉

 

Baking with a toddler

This is not so much a post about a recipe but thoughts about spending time with Faith on a one-to-one basis. Quality time, so they say. You might be surprised and ask, “But you are a SAHM! Of course, you should be able to spend more time with her!” That is true, of course, except that there are dishes to clear, toilets to clean, floors to mop and meals to prepare, just to name a few. And all these take time.

However, as I take a step back, I realise that Faith desires to work on stuff together with me, remembers those incidents and narrates them in her own way. She actually enjoys those activities! So, I’ve decided household chores can wait a wee bit and start focusing on building wonderful memories for her by getting her involved in the KITCHEN.

If you know me, I love baking and cooking and I think such an interest can be felt by the little one. She observes me daily in the kitchen and then recently, keeps telling me, “I want to see Mama doing.” I believe the hands-on baking workshop at the Colgate event and the recent cookie baking and decorating session I had with her have fueled her interest.

I might as well get her involved then. Which turns out to be really awesome.

So our recent project is to bake some savoury cupcakes together. To be honest, they are not the most delicious but I guess they are nutritious enough for the little one. I packed in salmon and spinach in it but I think adding bacon would really enhance the flavour (but I try not to use processed meat).

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What you would need
:: 1 1/4 cups of organic unbleached plain flour
:: 1 1/2 tsps baking powder
:: 1 cup grated vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, chopped vegetables, etc
:: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
:: 50g cooked salmon or chicken meat, finely chopped
:: 1 egg
:: 1/4 cup of milk
:: 50g unsalted butter, melted
:: olive oil or butter to grease the pan

** Original recipe from Beanstalk magazine (the magazine for early childhood practitioners and parents)

1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease the cupcake pan with olive oil or butter.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. I got Faith to do this step and nearly fainted because her aiming is really bad but I had to put on a calm and joyous front.

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3. Add grated veggies, meat and cheese. Toss well to mix.

4. In another bowl, whisk the egg, milk and butter together.

image5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ones, stir until just combined. Do not overmix as your cupcakes will be tough.

6. Spoon into the cupcake pan. I used a mini cupcake pan as mini ones can be easily handled by the little girl when she’s consuming them.

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7. Spoon into the cupcake pan.

8. Bake for about 15 minutes for mini cupcakes or 25 minutes for the regular-sized cupcakes or until golden brown. insert a toothpick into one of the cupcakes. if baked through, the toothpick will come out clean.

I must say I was nervous the whole time Faith handled the equipment. I don’t really welcome mess but we all know it is inevitable especially when working with young kids since their grip and coordination skills are not there yet. I have to remind myself to have fun with her.

An attitude of fun creates a positive atmosphere.

image{via SunshineInkStudio from etsy}

Apart from that concern, it is really a worthwhile activity to work on. As we baked, we conversed and i told her the names of the various ingredients and methods like whisking, stirring, pouring, etc and she could remember them! What a useful practical lesson!

I believe we would do more of such activities again. Why don’t you do so with your kids too? 😉

Easy and delicious recipes that we could work on together (for now):

:: Mini quiche

:: Broccoli, cheese and mushroom easy pies

:: Pizza

:: Pasta pies

So, stay tuned!