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Tag Archives: cooking with toddlers

Pink (Beetroot) Pancakes

Like pretty much every other toddler, Nicholas is a creature of habit. For more than a year, his breakfast had to be puffed rice cereal with milk in a yellow bowl with a particular blue spoon, together with a banana milkshake he’d often help me make, even throwing in a small handful of spinach leaves himself. Oh, and the milkshake had to be in his robot mug with two straws (usually one green and one orange). If you’re nodding your head as you read this, rather than chuckling, then I’m sure you have your own creature of habit.

But the routines that little ones so need can suddenly change to another. Now breakfast must be pancakes with a mug of cold milk. I pushed a lot for him to still have his milkshake as I loved being able to get a serving of fruit and a serving of veg so easily into him first thing every day. In hindsight my pushing was never going to work! So that has made me experiment with adding different ingredients to the pancake batter. We’ve had green pancakes (spinach) and now pink pancakes. And I’m a happier mummy knowing he’s getting a little extra dose of ‘healthy’ every morning.

beet pancakes

PINK (BEETROOT) PANCAKES

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20-25 mins
Makes about 12 medium pancakes

375ml (1 1/2 cups) full cream milk
2 tsp (10ml) lemon juice
35g (2 tbsp) sugar
225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp allspice (or 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and a pinch of cloves)
1 large egg
30g (1 1/2 tbsp) butter, melted
1 medium-sized beetroot (about 150g), peeled and finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
Extra butter, for greasing pan

Mix the milk, lemon juice and sugar in a medium bowl, then set aside for five minutes. (It might develop a slightly curdled look during this time.)

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together into a large bowl. Mix through the allspice.

Break the egg into the milk mixture and add the melted butter and grated beetroot. Whisk until the egg has combined with the milk (don’t worry it the butter just floats on the surface).

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk quickly until almost smooth (the batter should still have a few small lumps). Don’t overmix the batter as this can make the pancakes tough. Leave the batter to rest while the pan is preheating (at least two minutes).

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Melt a little butter in the pan to lightly grease it.

Give your mixture a quick stir to get a more even pink colour. Use a spoon to pour heart shapes into the pan (start with a dollop at the top then let the batter fall into the heart’s point at the bottom; repeat for the other side). Cook only two or three at a time, otherwise turning the pancakes will be difficult.

Cook the first side until small bubbles appear and burst on the surface (about 1-2 minutes).

Turn over with a spatula and cook until the second side is lightly browned and the pancakes are cooked through (another 1-2 minutes).

Cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm while you finish making the others. Add a little more butter to grease the pan each time and keep checking the temperature of the pan as it will probably need to be reduced as the pan heats up with use.

Tips:

  • Little ones love pancakes in fun shapes. You can simply use a spoon to pour the batter into a shape as you cook the pancakes, or you can put the batter into a piping bag or squeeze bottle (the squeeze bottle won’t work for these pink pancakes as the grated beetroot will get stuck in the nozzle!). An even easier way is to make normal-shaped pancakes and use a cookie cutter after they’re cooked.
  • To avoid getting beetroot juice everywhere, use disposable gloves to keep your hands stain-free and place the grater in a bowl to catch as much as the beetroot as possible.
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Mini cheese and carrot scones

I’ve been trying to avoid turning on the oven during our amazing continued warm weather here in the UK (this is how summer should be!), but when the idea of savoury scones popped into my head I knew it wouldn’t go until I’d made some. The good thing is, scones are quick to prepare and quick to cook, so staying in the heated kitchen is kept to a minimum.

My first attempt at making scones when I was in my twenties was a disaster. What came out of the oven were rock cakes. I guess I overmixed and/or overkneaded the dough. You can find plenty of tips online to ensure your sweet or savoury scones are as light as possible (I’ve added some at the end of the recipe). I ignored one tip never to use any kind of wholemeal flour (I used half white self-raising and half wholemeal self-raising flour) and I think they turned out pretty good anyway! If you’re not feeling confident about scone-making, use all white self-raising flour.

mini cheese and carrot scones

I made mini scones for mini fingers, but you can make any size or shape you like. I used a 4-centimetre round cutter and also cut out a few small butterfly shapes for Nicholas. (Mummy: ‘What sound does a butterfly make?’ Nicholas: ‘Flap flap’.)

Scones are definitely the yummiest straight from the oven with melting butter on top, but these are also lovely to have for lunch filled with some ham and cheese.

These scones freeze very well and are also something different to pop into lunchboxes. You can also add some chopped ham or cooked bacon to the mix as well as experiment with other grated vegetables. I’d love to hear your variations.

MINI CHEESE AND CARROT SCONES

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 10-15 mins
Makes about 20 mini scones
Freezable

1 cup wholemeal self-raising flour
1 cup plain self-raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
50g butter, cold
1/2 cup finely grated carrot
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp milk extra for glazing

Preheat the oven to 200C and line an oven tray with baking paper.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the two flours and salt.

Quickly dice the butter and add to the bowl. Using your fingertips, quickly rub the butter into the flour for a minute or two until it’s fairly evenly distributed (the consistency should be like coarse breadcrumbs). Don’t rub the mixture too much or the butter will melt.

Using a knife instead of a spoon, quickly mix through the grated carrot and cheese then add the milk, stirring until it’s just loosely combined.

Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it just enough to form a ball. Use your hands to flatten the dough until it’s about 2cm thick.

Cut out your desired shapes and place them on your prepared oven tray close together. Form another ball from the leftover dough and repeat.

Brush the tops of the scones with the extra milk and bake for 10-15 mins until golden.

Variations:

  • For a cheesy top, a couple of minutes before the scones are cooked, sprinkle over some extra grated cheese and pop back into the oven.
  • Add some chopped cooked ham or bacon to the dough.
  • Substitute the grated carrot with a different grated vegetable such as parsnip, courgette/zucchini or beetroot.

Tips:

  • Always use butter that’s straight from the fridge to avoid it melting when it’s rubbed into the flour (which leads to heavy scones); some cooks suggest putting the butter into the freezer for a few minutes after weighing it out, grating it into the flour and then quickly mixing it through rather than rubbing it.
  • When cutting out your scones, don’t twist the cutter after pushing it into the dough; this seals the edges and makes it more difficult for the scone to rise.
  • Putting your scones close together, even touching, on the oven tray helps them rise (a good example of teamwork?!?).