Anna Dusseau | 8th April 2020
“Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.”-Ernestine Ulmer
Like my favourite kind of pastry, I’m going to keep this short and sweet because – well – sometimes things are just better that way. From creamy lasagne to dairy-free banana cupcakes, cooking and baking is surely a fundamental aspect of family life, regardless of school ethos. I tend to break up the week with several food adventures, from helping chop vegetables for a ratatouille to allowing my eldest children to find and follow a recipe by themselves, with only muffled murmurs of anguish when the flour goes flying or an eggy spoon gets dipped into the cocoa powder. It’s all about just rolling your sleeves up and getting involved! In the world of baking, here’s what’s trending in our kitchen.
Banana and coconut muffins are extremely simple to prepare and ideal as an independent baking project for younger children, like mine. You’ll need a couple of ripe bananas, 2 eggs, melted butter, 100g self raising flour and brown sugar to taste (although with the banana and coconut combination, you might find you can omit refined sugar altogether). I tend to add grated coconut to the mixture directly but you could equally just sprinkle it at the end or substitute the coconut for ground almond which we sometimes use as a flour substitute, or 50/50 to increase the protein and omega content. My kids love listening to music while taking over the kitchen in a cloud of flour and fun.
Apple crumble is such a standard dish, I know, but don’t underestimate it. Healthy and nutritious, this is also extremely economical and, in a time when it is quite frankly a challenge planning how to feed a large family based on one weekly shop, having ingredients for a big crumble can mean that pudding is sorted for a few days in a row. You’ll need about 4 large cooking apples for a family crumble and you could add dried apricots, ginger, pears or raspberries to this, depending on your taste. We always add a sprinkle of cinnamon and avoid adding extra sugar to the fruit; however it’s up to you. For the crumble topping, I tend to prefer oats rather than flour and for a vegan option, you could substitute butter for a drizzle of walnut oil and ground nuts to bind the crumble topping and enable it to brown nicely. A messy but satisfying way to spend an hour with the kids. Use it as a learning opportunity and discuss the various ingredients with them, talk politics, or quiz them on mental Maths questions. Whatever the vibe is in your house that day.
“People who love to eat are always the best people.“– Julia Child
No bake chocolate bonbons. Oh, who needs a recipe at this point? You can see where this is going.. Mash up your favourite ingredients to form the ‘bonbon’ base. For us, this means smooth peanut butter, dried cranberries, almond powder (to bind it) and crystallised ginger but please send me a comment with your favourite sticky centre and we will be sure to try it out. Form the ball shapes (obviously this is the moment you make a mental note of the ones to avoid as your 4 year old squishes a few lovingly between his fingers) and semi-solidify in the fridge for an hour. Melt the chocolate (milk cooking chocolate is obviously the richest and silkiest here but we use 70% dark chocolate or you could use vegan cooking chocolate) and pour it over or dip the bonbons, then back into the fridge for another couple of hours to enable the hard chocolate shell to form. You want to hear the crack, right?
Here’s to another glorious day of homeschooling, my friends! Keep it calm, remember to listen to lots of music and podcasts, read voraciously, laugh uproariously at the smallest of things and get some sunshine on your face if you can. We are going to get through this, folks, and in the meantime there’s the simple pleasure of hot coffee and a slice of something sweet.
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