Icklegen and I barely ventured out of the house on Friday. We awoke to rain and by about 9.30 am the sky had darkened and the thunder had started to rumble. What were we going to do today to keep ourselves busy, I wondered. Well, baking has always been high up on my hit list on bad-weather days. There is something so therapeutic about putting the oven on and creating a delcious, sweet treat to enjoy when it is cold and/or wet outdoors. The question was: would Icklegen buy into my enthusiasm?
I opted for a simple recipe: Anzac biscuits. I’m not hugely into complex cake and biccie recipes actually – give me banana muffins and choc chip cookies over complex toppings, colours and sprinkles any day. I’m sure that will all change for special birthday girl celebrations over the next few years, when I’ll be called upon to create fairy princesses with impossible swirly pink glittery icing and other such flights of fancy.
Anzac biscuits are a relatively new discovery for me. I’d never sampled one before moving out here a few years ago, and boy, had I missed out. They are yummy and so easy to make, too! And given that they contain oats and coconut, they must surely be good for you…
I love the story behind the recipe: it is believed that Anzac biscuits were made and sent to soldiers during WW1 by their loved ones back home. They have a relatively long ‘shelf life’ (they don’t contain egg like a lot of biscuit recipes), so could still be enjoyed when they arrived with the troops overseas. They are now forever associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).
The recipe that I found when I first decided to have a go at baking Anzac biscuits myself was – dare I say it – from a UK site: BBC GoodFood. I don’t know whether it would be classed as a ‘traditional’ recipe, but all the key ingredients are there, and the end result has never disappointed. The biscuits are crunchy on the outside, but still soft and chewy inside – very moreish!
Would they work with a toddler as my sous-chef, though? I decided to gather my ingredients and cooking materials together in advance. I’ve discovered there’s nothing worse than trying to organise myself in the kitchen with Icklegen fluttering around my feet. Step one complete, we donned our aprons, carried a wooden chair into the kitchen so Ickle was at counter-height, and set to work.
Measuring out the ingredients went well. I used the scale at a safe distance from excited little hands, then Icklegen was in charge of pouring into the mixing bowl. We had a few near-misses, notably with the flour, but actually it was me who created the most mess by tipping the open bag of dessicated coconut all over the counter. I also had to prevent Icklegen from plunging her hands into the mixture just after I had added the melted butter and golden syrup. By this stage, she had discovered that this cooking business was fun, and tasty too, and couldn’t keep her hands out of the mixing bowl. Especially as I had thrown in some choc chips that needed using up (this bit definitely not traditional!)
We continued with our great teamwork skills: I spooned the mixture out onto trays and Icklegen patted the biscuits into shape. Then we popped them in the oven for about 8 minutes and hey presto: tasty, homemade biccies for our morning tea. And the realisation for me that cooking can be a rewarding activity with a young toddler.
What is your favourite recipe when your toddler is your sous-chef?