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Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without gingerbread. Whether it’s gingerbread men, a gingerbread house or other gingerbread shapes, the mix of spices and the smell of it baking makes me feel all warm and Christmas-y!

Making gingerbread with your little ones is a wonderful activity to do (and not just at Christmas time). It’s easy to make, immense fun to make shapes out of and cooks quickly so you can start decorating sooner.

If you’re cooking with toddlers, you could make the dough yourself beforehand (the dough keeps in the fridge easily for a day) and get your munchkin involved from the ‘cutting out shapes’ stage. Older kids can help make the dough from scratch and while it’s chilling in the fridge, they can start choosing cookie cutters and think about how they’ll decorate them.

Gingerbread keeps wonderfully (in an airtight container) for a couple of weeks. It’s also a lovely present your kids can make and then give to friends and family. We’ve just finished decorating some Christmas trees to give to the staff at Nicholas’ preschool.

Gingerbread Christmas treesThis recipe has been the only one I’ve used to make gingerbread for the last few years. It’s slightly adapted from a Waitrose recipe. If I remember correctly, I just reduced the amount of bicarbonate of soda, as I really don’t like it when I can taste it in the finished product. There’s still enough of it though to puff up the gingerbread a little.

To make cleaning up easier, I like to roll the gingerbread on a piece of baking paper rather than on a floured surface, with a piece of plastic wrap on the top so the rolling pin stays clean too. This also means that your gingerbread won’t accidently stick to your work surface.



Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 9 mins
Makes about 30 medium-sized biscuits

125g unsalted butter
100g dark muscovado sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
325g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 190C. Line at least two baking trays with baking paper.

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the melted ingredients to make a stiff dough. Shape into a ball and refrigerate for 10 mins (if you’re not going to cook your gingerbread immediately, wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge).

Roll out onto a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 3-5mm. Cut out shapes and place on your lined baking trays. Bake for 9 minutes until golden brown.

Leave on a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.

Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Tip: before measuring out your golden syrup, rub a drop of oil over the spoon; the syrup will easily slide off.

What sweets are your favourite for decorating gingerbread?

Chewy chai cookies

There’s something wonderfully comforting about oatmeal cookies, especially ones with soft chewy centres. We regularly make variations of our chewy oaty biscuits, which Nicholas likes to both make and eat, but I wanted to try making some with the warm and lightly spiced flavour of my beloved vanilla chai tea.

While these are not the healthiest snack, I’ve reduced the sugar content quite a bit (by a third!) so you can feel less guilty eating them. If you prefer sweeter cookies you can also add a handful of raisins or sultanas to the cookie dough.

Oatmeal oaty biscuits

If you can’t get hold of vanilla chai teabags, look at my tip below the recipe for recreating the flavours with spices you probably already have in your cupboard.

I make these quite small (they’re about 5cm in diameter after cooking), so you can indulge with less guilt. The recipe is easily doubled though if you prefer to make bigger ones.


Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10-12 mins
Makes 12 small cookies

60g butter, chopped
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
75g (1/2 cup) rolled oats
50g (1/2 cup) plain flour
50g (1/4 cup) soft brown sugar
2 vanilla chai tea bags (leaves only)

Preheat your oven to 160C and line an oven tray with baking paper.

Gently melt the butter and honey (or agave nectar) either in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Leave to cool.

Mix the oats, flour, sugar and tea leaves together in a medium-sized bowl.

Pour in the cooled melted butter and honey, and mix until combined.

Roll the mixture into small balls and place well apart on the prepared tray. Press down with the back of an oiled spoon to flatten them slightly.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until just starting to turn brown, flattening them again with the back of an oiled spoon after about 5 mins of cooking. (If you prefer crunchy cookies, cook them for a few minutes longer until turned golden brown.)

Leave the cookies to cool on the tray for 5 mins to firm up before transferring them to a wire rack to completely cool.


  • Use a dairy-free margarine instead of the butter to make dairy-free cookies;
  • Add a handful of dried fruit such as raisins, chopped dried apricot, dried apple or dried strawberries;
  • Add chocolate chips to the mixture or drizzle the baked cookies with melted chocolate;
  • Add flaked almonds.

Tip: instead of using the vanilla chai tea leaves, make your own chai spice mix by combining 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground allspice, a pinch of ground cloves and a pinch of freshly ground pepper. Also add 1/2 tsp vanilla essence to your cookie dough.

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Iโ€™m linking this recipe to the AlphaBakes monthly challenge (this month itโ€™s the letter โ€˜Cโ€™) jointly hosted by Caroline from Caroline Makes and Ros from The More than Occasional Baker (and I’m quietly very proud of achieving a triple letter ‘C’ this time ;))

Chewy oaty biscuits

So Nicholas’ first go at cooking went really well. He particularly enjoyed spooning the ingredients into the various bowls. I had laid out a number of different sized spoons and he tried all of them, preferring the smaller ones (it makes sense when his chubby hands are so small).

I found Michelle’s advice over at What’s Cooking With Kids really useful. She suggests using a large bowl with a non-skid bottom, putting the mixing bowl inside a larger bowl to avoid spills, and setting up everything ahead of time so your little one doesn’t get bored waiting for you to prepare. One of her readers also recommends using a funnel which I think would work really well. Nicholas definitely enjoyed using a jug, especially while we were waiting for the biscuits to cook.

It’s important to choose something that’s easy to cook. A recipe that involves mainly pouring ingredients into a bowl and mixing them is perfect. Biscuits or slices that have melted butter are great; you can melt the butter beforehand and let it cool so little hands are safe when mixing. Also try to make something that doesn’t take very long to cook so you can both sample your munchkin’s efforts as soon as possible.

These chewy oaty biscuits are a simple recipe you can find all over the place with the same basic ingredients. They’re simple, perfect for kids to make and easy to vary. I used this recipe from NetMums and added some raisins, but the possible variations are almost limitless.

The texture is similar to flapjacks (firm on the outside with a chewy centre), in fact you could press the mixture into a square tin and then cut into pieces rather than rolling it into biscuits.

We didn’t get any where near the 24 biscuits the original recipe says and our biscuits were small. Even with some mixture going on the floor and into a little mouth, it was closer to 18 small biscuits


Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10-15 mins
Makes about 18 small biscuits or 12 medium-sized biscuits
They keep well for several days in an airtight container

75g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
75g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g demerara sugar
75g porridge oats
25g raisins

Preheat the oven to 170C. Grease or line an oven tray with baking paper.

Gently melt the butter and golden syrup either in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Leave to cool.

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.

Add the sugar, oats and raisins and stir together.

Pour in the cooled melted butter and golden syrup and mix until combined.

Roll the mixture into small balls and place well apart on the prepared tray. Press down with the back of an oiled spoon to make flatter biscuits or leave for more rounded biscuits.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.


  • Use a dairy-free margarine instead of the butter to make dairy-free biscuits
  • Use honey instead of golden syrup
  • Add other dried fruit such as chopped dried apricot, dried apple or dried strawberries
  • Add chocolate chips
  • Drizzle with melted chocolate or dip half of each biscuit into melted chocolate
  • Add some spice such as cinnamon or ground ginger
  • Add flaked almonds
  • Add desiccated coconut

Have you tried cooking with your kids? What advice would you give to make it as stress free as possible?

Double-baked banana teething biscuits

Biscuits are my favourite thing to bake. They’re probably my favourite thing to eat as well. For a quick sugar fix with less guilt than a piece of cake, they can’t be beaten. I like them chewy, crumbly, crisp or gooey – I’m not picky! Usually the perfect accompaniment is a glass of milk, but for the famous Italian cantuccini that are rock hard you have to, just have to, dip them in a sweet dessert wine.

Cantuccini are extra hard from being baked twice. This technique is perfect to make teething rusks or biscuits for your dribbling munchkin to gnaw on.

I came across a recipe for twice-baked banana teething biscuits by Jennifer Cheung. This is my first try and it needs some adjusting. The second baking was too long in my oven and it coincided with Nicholas needing more attention so I didn’t check them. Although in the photo of the original recipe the biscuits look very dark, mine came out looking more burnt :(. Oh well, not everything works all the time. Next time I would bake them the second time for 20-30 minutes. However, Nicholas hasn’t minded them being overcooked.

I made half the mixture. First because the recipe looked as if it would make a large amount of biscuits (although you can freeze the biscuits) and second because I had one and a half very ripe bananas that needed using and they mashed up into exactly half of what the original recipe needed. I used a loaf pan rather than the slice tin suggested because of the smaller amount of mixture, but it rose a lot so next time I’d use a wider tin.


Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 1hr 30 mins
Makes about 20

1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup mashed banana (about 1 1/2 bananas)
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat oven to 180C and line a slice tin with baking paper.

Mix all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl until well combined.

Pour into prepared tin and bake for one hour.

Leave the oven door open to cool and drop the temperature to 150C.

Remove what now looks like a banana cake from the pan and cool a little. Slice into sticks (I found it easier to use a bread knife as my loaf was quite high) and lay the slices on a baking tray lined with baking paper.

Using a bread knife makes it easier to slice

After I took this photo I sliced some of the fatter biscuits in half

Bake for another 20-30 minutes.

What do you do when your little one is teething to help soothe their sore gums?

Update: my next attempt at these biscuits was much more successful… and also sugar-free!

Chocolate fork biscuits

Happy World Baking Day! Although I should have baked a cake, I decided to bake something much quicker and that would last a bit longer than a cake – biscuits.

This is one of my oldest favourites, written down in the first notebook, when I left home to go to uni at 18, that became my first recipe book. I don’t remember whether it was a recipe I copied from my mum or from a magazine. It was long before being able to easily scour the internet for recipes. Can you imagine not being able to do that?!

The recipe says to stir in the flour, cocoa and salt, but I just add them to the food processor, after the sugar and butter have been nicely whipped,and whizz them up to combine. Most of your preparation time is rolling the dough into balls. I’ll definitely try to get Nicholas doing this job as soon as possible!

A lovely crumbly buttery biscuit, from the simplest of ingredients, they’re perfect to whip up for afternoon tea, for parents to snack on during playdates, to give as a homemade present, or simply as a well-earned treat. Put your angel down for a nap, and you should be able to make these and have happily eaten some before they wake up.


Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 8 mins
Makes about 25
Can freeze uncooked dough

125g unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup self-raising flour
2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
A pinch of salt

Heat oven to 190C and grease two baking trays.

In a food processor or with electric beaters, cream the butter until soft then add sugar, gradually beating until white and fluffy. Stir in sifted flour, cocoa and salt until a creamed mixture.

Roll mixture into small walnut-sized balls and place on greased baking trays. Flatten each ball with a fork dipped in cold water.

Bake for 8 mins. Leave to cool on trays for a few minutes and then be careful when lifting them off as they’ll still be quite soft. Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy with a large glass of milk!


  • sandwich two biscuits together with some icing (an orange flavoured icing would work well)
  • break up some fruit and nut chocolate or some white chocolate and stir into the finished mixture

What are your ‘go to’ recipes that never fail and always impress?