Belle was challenged this week by Grandma to bake something that was not dessert, so she flipped through her kid cookbook of global cuisine again and found a recipe for sausage rolls. Puff pastry and sausage? Yum. Mama did a little digging, though, because it looked like it had probably been simplified a bit from traditional preparation. And yes, it had. Apparently, Australian mums use sausage rolls as a way to sneak vegetables into their children’s meals and I am all about that, ladies. Grating carrots is a good gross motor activity anyway.Continue reading “Australian Sausage Rolls”
Tag: unit study
Belle received a children’s cookbook of global cuisine a while back, and has been obsessed with the idea of making “sprinkle balls” aka brigadeiros ever since. For whatever reason, this week was the week we finally made them. Let me tell you, this is the easiest recipe ever to use up all the remaining jars of sprinkles in your pantry. And/plus/also, it’s super tasty.Continue reading “Brigadeiros”
We make these roughly every other week, or whenever I have a full box of baking soda, since the baking soda boil kills that little orange box very quickly. Belle requests to “make pretzels out of cookie dough pink cookie dough pleeeease” much more frequently though, because it is so much fun. She hasn’t convinced me to make pink pretzels yet, but we have tried whole wheat flour (meh, but maybe we didn’t get the kneading right), whey (slight sourdough flavor), a 2 hour rise (no difference except more dough), a second rise before the baking soda boil (reduces surface area for the boil and therefore the characteristic flavor it imparts), shaping into buns (meh, same limited surface area problem), and reusing the baking soda boil for another batch the next day (0/10, do not recommend). We’ve also baked without parchment – you can still see the outlines of where the baking soda reacted with the aluminum pan so we stick to the recipe’s recommendation now.
Pretzel dough not only makes something delicious but also gives all the benefits of massive quantities of play doh: kneading, rolling snakes, shaping, squishing, stretching…all those great hand strength exercises disguised as play that prep kids to grasp crayons and write. Kneading the whole ball of dough (“fold, squish, turn” or as Belle says, “fold, fish! Now I eat a little bit just a little bit”) gets upper body strength, midline coordination, and cognitive sequencing involved too.
Rolling dough evenly is a work in progress, since you need to move your hands from center outwards while rolling, and Belle is content to roll with her hands in one place. We adapt and overcome – either she starts the rolling and I finish and shape, assembly line style, or she rolls one piece for fifteen minutes and makes it back into a ball and puts pieces into a cookie cutter that she spied across the room while I do most of the pretzel shaping. Doesn’t matter. Forming and reforming the dough is part of her noticing and fixing her mistakes.
Without enough counter to work on, I end up with shorter snakes ideal for making letters and numbers. I form them, then ask, “Belle, do you know this letter?” “Letter E!” “Yes, letter E for elephant” or “No, not E, this is B for Belle” I say, and move on. Sometimes, we trace a few letters with a finger (always pre-baking soda boil) in the same way that we would write it – down, across the top, across the middle, across the bottom. If you make letters, pinch the corners to help them keep their shape in the boil. Expect to get through the alphabet but not also the numbers.
Skills worked on:
- Early math (forming lines and shapes, counting)
- Early literacy (forming letters and numbers)
- Gross motor (strength from kneading)
- Fine motor (rolling into snakes, scooping, shaping)
- Kitchen safety (knives, hot stove)
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Stand mixer with dough hook or wooden spoon
- Tea towel
- Spotted spoon or tongs
- Large pot
- Parchment paper
- Cookie sheets
- Paper towels
Recipe (45 min prep, 15 min bake, yield: ~40 pretzel sticks or ~30 4″ classic pretzels):
This recipe was handed off from a friend, originally from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
- 1 1/2 c warm water or whey (100-110°F)
- 1 packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp melted, cooled butter (still liquid, but lukewarm)
- 3 3/4 c flour plus more for work surface
- 1/4 c baking soda
- 9 c water
- Kosher salt (optional)
- Whisk 1 package of yeast into 1 1/2 c of warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let sit 1 minute.
- Whisk in 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tbsp lukewarm melted butter.
- Add 3 3/4 c flour, one cup at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon or dough hook attachment, until dough is no longer sticky. You may need an extra 1/4-1/2 c flour. Dough will be smooth and bounce back when poked.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for about 3 minutes (about 50 turns, if child is kneading slowly), then form into a ball. Cover with a tea towel and let rest at least 10 min.
- Preheat oven to 400°F and set up the baking soda bath: 1/4 c baking soda in 9 c of boiling water. Line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment and a plate with paper towels.
- Return to the dough and section off pieces of 1/4-1/3 c. Pieces should be roughly equal for even baking. 1/3 c pieces can be rolled into a 20-22″ rope and twisted into the classic pretzel shape, or smaller pieces can be manipulated into sticks, knots, letters, buns, or other shapes. The bath will twist and set the dough, so no need to be overly precise.
- Drop pretzels into the baking soda bath in batches (2-3 at a time) and let boil for 20-30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon and the paper towel plate to drain them before returning to the cookie sheet.
- Sprinkle kosher salt on the pretzels (optional), then bake 12-15 min. Serve hot with optional mustard, or let cool completely before storing in an airtight container up to 3 days (storing while warm results in a slight sogginess).
This recipe is part of our coronavirus/Covid-19 quarantine bake-along. See the previous recipe here: Sweet Potato Fries. See the next recipe here: Snickerdoodles.
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Our St. Patrick’s Day Parade was supposed to be yesterday, and this is the recipe we normally make for our friends’ potluck party on the parade route. Alas, Covid-19 has cancelled the parade, but a sole bagpiper took to the streets and we took to our kitchen.
This is a ridiculously easy recipe, but because it includes the use of a saucepan, I wanted Belle to focus on kitchen safety. We talked about keeping one hand on the handle and using the spatula to stir with the other hand, and practiced on the counter before we moved to the stove.
Belle can be very independent-minded when it comes to dangerous items – she knows how it’s supposed to work so she wants to just do it! My strategy to manage that is to talk through it, and include wording like “I’m going to hold the handle with you to make sure the pot doesn’t tip,” so she knows what to expect.
Belle also got a bit of sensory play in, through pressing the oat mixture into the pan. She called it “hot” and “sticky” before deciding “I need to wash my hands.”
Skills worked on:
- Kitchen safety
- Fine motor (pouring)
- 8×8 or 9×9 pan (9×13 also works, but flapjacks will be crumbly)
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
Recipe (10 min prep, 20 min bake, 40 min cool; yield: ~25 1.5″ squares):
This recipe is adapted from Gemma’s Bigger Bolder Baking for Americans.
- 3 1/2 c oats
- 1/2 c coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 c) butter
- generous 1/2 c brown sugar
- 3/8 c (1/4 c + 2 tbsp) maple syrup
- 1 cup (dark) chocolate, melted (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C and prepare a pan. Parchment paper makes it easier to lift the bars out of the pan, but there’s enough butter in the recipe that you don’t need to grease it.
- In a small saucepan, stir together until melted 1 1/2 sticks butter, 3/8 c maple syrup, and a generous 1/2 c brown sugar. Sauce should be a uniform toffee color.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 3 1/2 c oats and 1/2 c coconut. Pour sauce over the oats and coconut and use a large spatula to coat evenly.
- Press mixture into pan to create a dense oaty block.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, til edges are pulling away from the pan slightly and top is firm and golden brown.
- Let cool in pan.
- Optional: place 1 c chocolate or dark chocolate chips in a double boiler or a microwaveable bowl. Heat gradually (in 15 second increments in the microwave) until chocolate starts to melt, then stir with a spatula til the remainder melts. Use to decorate top of the flapjacks. Let harden.
- Remove from pan and slice.
This recipe is part of our coronavirus/Covid-19 quarantine bake-along. See the previous recipe here: No Sugar Added Whole Wheat Banana Bread. See the next recipe here: Sweet Potato Fries.
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Irish Brown Soda Bread
It’s almost St Paddy’s Day, so time for some good brown bread, slathered in butter and jam, or dipped into stew. Or, I suppose, for sandwiches, though Belle and I prefer to eat our sandwiches deconstructed.
Because this is a bread that relies on baking soda instead of yeast, we didn’t recap the yeast fart discussion from yesterday’s pizza dough, but instead used it as a springboard to talk about Ireland. Hey, if we’re going to be self-isolating, Mama can relive her glory days of backpacking across Europe.
Well, let’s back up. Belle doesn’t really have a concept of “countries” yet, but she does understand islands (we live on the shore). So Ireland is an island where some people live, and they eat a lot of this bread. They have a lot of whole wheat flour because it doesn’t cost much and is easier to make than white flour, and they have oats because they’re easy to grow and healthy to eat, and the bread helps them stay full when they work on their farms.
That last bit is a bit unsupported by research, but the dense, slightly sweet bread is definitely filling, and when we’re talking about a largely rural, historically poor country, cheap and filling eats are definitely important to farmers.
Ireland is also a superstitious country – hence the cross on the bread to let the devil or fairies out. Belle has enormous confidence in her ability to use knives despite rarely getting a chance to touch them, and this very simple scoring of the loaf was as good an opportunity as any to allow her to make a few cuts without worrying about precision. We said a little prayer for the world while we were at it.
While the bread was in the oven, we talked a bit more about St Patrick, shamrocks, the color green, pictures of Ireland, and Irish farms. I put on a cartoon for Belle: the St Patrick episode of Veggie Tales. Slightly older children might also enjoy Ballybraddan, an Irish cartoon about a grade school hurling team that can be found on YouTube, but when I previewed it, I knew the pacing would be a bit too slow for Belle.
Skills worked on:
- Knife safety and skills
- Fine motor (whisking, scooping)
- Sensory (hand mixing)
- Cultural unit study (Ireland)
- Large mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
Recipe (25 min prep, 45 min bake, yield 1 12″ round loaf):
This recipe is modified from Best of Irish Traditional Cooking by Biddy White Lennon.
- 4 c whole wheat flour (or white)
- 1 1/2 c white flour
- 1/2 c old fashioned oats, optional
- 1 generous tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 c raisins, optional
- About 2 c buttermilk (or scant 2 c milk plus 2 tbsp white vinegar)
- 2 tbsp molasses (substitute honey or maple syrup)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.
- If substituting for buttermilk: Whisk together 1 3/4 c milk and 2 tbsp white vinegar. Let sit 5-10 min, until slightly curdled.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl: 4 c whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 c white flour, 1/2 c old fashioned oats, 1 generous tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 c raisins.
- Add 2 tbsp molasses to the buttermilk or buttermilk substitute and whisk til dissolved.
- Create a well in the dry ingredients, add buttermilk/molasses mixture, and mix quickly by hand until a soft dough is formed.
- Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until dough is smooth – no more than a few minutes.
- Form dough into a disc 1 1/2-2″ deep (about x” in diameter), then use a sharp knife to score deeply a cross or X. Move loaf onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 40-45 min. Tap on the bottom to check that it’s done. The loaf should sound hollow.
- Cool on a rack. Eat within a day if left on the counter or 3 days in an airtight container, or slice and freeze up to three months. Stale bread excellent for croutons.
This recipe is part of our coronavirus/Covid-19 quarantine bake-along. See the previous recipe here: Pizza Pie See the next recipe here: Rainbow Pasta
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