Holiday Baking

by Krista From a very early age, my children have shown a keen interest in cooking, and helping me cook. I've embraced this, as they tend to eat more of what we serve if they have had a hand in creating it. Today we baked some shortbread cookies for Christmas, and they jumped at the chance to help out. While I am not worried about convincing them to eat cookies, it was really easy to include them at every step of the process. It turned in to a really fun morning for the family as we get ready for the holiday.

The recipe that we made is my grandmother's recipe, and I LOVE it, because it is really simple - it only has three ingredients! I find that simple recipes are best when baking with my little ones, it helps to keep us all focused. If there is any prep that I can do in advance, like cutting of the cherries that go on top of the cookies, or packing the icing sugar, I try to do that before they start helping me. We started by having them get out the ingredients, then sugar and butter get creamed together.

Pouring the icing sugar Creaming the butter and sugar

When it came time to add the flour, Woo measured and Goose poured. This works really well if your recipes don't need precise measurements. We work on the "-ish" rule for most things, so it doesn't matter if the cups of flour are not quite level, or if some of the flour misses the bowl.

One measures... One pours!

We stopped for Daddy to do a little clean-up at this point, as there was a good layer of flour covering the table. I then worked in the dough, and rolled it into balls. Woo wanted to help at this stage, and I was actually quite impressed with how well he could form the little balls.

Master Roller

Turns out that their thumbs are the perfect size for the thumbprint that the cherry rests in. They eagerly (and sometimes a little too over zealously) shmushed all the dough balls and added the cherries.

Perfectly sized Helping

We timed it so that there were trays of cookies to be shmushed and have cherries added while the first batch was cooking. Once that cooled, it was time to eat!

Chomp! Yummy! We have more baking planned in the coming weeks, with sugar cookies up next! The recipe, if you are interested is:

1lb salted butter, softened 1.5 cups of icing sugar, well packed 3-4(ish) cups of pastry flour

Pre-heat oven to 300.  Cream butter and icing sugar until it appears crumbly.  Work in flour a little bit at a time, until the dough is stiff but still workable.  Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten with thumb (for a cherry) or a fork for a plain cookie.  Bake for 14-18 minutes until they are just turning golden.  Remove from pan and place on cooling racks immediately.  Taste.

Krista is married to Willy and mom to a 3 year old son, Woo, and 2 year old daughter Goose. You can find her at Life in the Hutch or on Twitter @kgraydonald