Sunday, February 27

Sunday Baking Project: GUEST POST: Cooking with toddlers and for those you love - LEBKUCHEN

Well that's a mouthful that title isn't it? The lovely Megan from Writing Out Loud has so very generously shared her family recipe for Lebkuchen below and shared her tips on both cooking with toddlers and seeing past the mess, what long term benefits it can bring to your child's approach to food.

It's a wonderful piece and I really couldn't agree more, as you'll see from the recipe (we roadtested it and took loads (!!) of photos) my girls all love cooking and have done it since they could step up to the bench or at the kitchen table.

Lebkuchen translates as 'ginger cakes' and I often call them 'leibkuchen' (love cakes) as they certainly are something I think you make for or give to someone you love.  I first came across them when a schoolfriend of mine went to Germany on exchange and bought some back for me.  I got hooked - as I'm a big lover of ginger (and if you are I would suggest upping the ginger in the recipe by 1/2 tsp) I never looked back - this is a fab recipe that's a stayer in my house now!  Thank you Megan!

Megan's 2 year old princess Abbey - demonstrating 'The good bit'
Megan writes:

My daughter has been in the kitchen with me since she was a baby; first in her bouncinet, laughing at me as I cooked, then crawling into cupboards and rearranging their contents. Now, at two-and-a-half, she climbs atop a stool and gets more hands-on with the whole cooking process. 

Toddlers are never happier than when they feel they’re helping out. My daughter will stir, add ingredients, cut cookies, knead, roll pasta, attempt washing the dishes and, of course, lick the bowl (she may or may not have learnt that from me).

Some people question my sanity when I talk about cooking with a toddler, but so giving her little jobs in the kitchen is an ideal way to keep her busy and entertained. And seeing how much she loves it – she’ll abandon any other activity if anyone is in the kitchen – makes it worth the effort.

  • Every meal or snack that my toddler helps prepare, she’ll eat, which has helped avert the pickiness that can appear around this age. TIP: if your toddler won’t eat vegetables, try letting them help prepare dinner. Let them pick at raw bits of things like carrots and beans.
  • There are a bunch of skills that toddlers learn when they’re helping in the kitchen, including counting, seeing mum/dad read recipes, motor skills, and creativity. TIP: count measurements aloud, sing little songs as you stir, and let them unleash their creativity in decorating or serving.
  • Toddlers also learn a lot about safety in the kitchen – but be warned, this can take some bravery on a parent’s behalf. With supervision, my daughter will now stir pots on the stove, turn on the mixmaster, and help me chop ingredients (by holding the knife handle with me). TIP: try giving your toddler a little bit of leeway with less dangerous things first, and only let them do as much as you’re comfortable with allowing them to.

Here’s a fun recipe to try with your toddler (sssh! don’t tell my mother-in-law I’m sharing her best cookie recipe!)…

60g butter
2/3 cup golden syrup
1 ¾ cups plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon cardamon
½ teaspoon cocoa
1 tablespoon milk
30g mixed peel, finely chopped
2 tablespoons plain flour, extra
Raspberry jam


Melt butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add golden syrup and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and stand for 10 minutes.

In bowl, sift dry ingredients.

Add milk and peel and stir in the butter and golden syrup with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Cover and stand at room temperature for 1½ hours; the mixture will become thicker during this time. {Time for another activity with your toddler!}  Preheat oven to 180 degrees C

Turn mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly, working in only enough of this flour until the mixture loses its stickiness. Divide the mixture into two.

Roll dough out to 8mm thickness. Cut out biscuits with a heart-shaped cutter or any other cutter about 5cm diameter {Give your toddler some different shaped cutters and let them do this bit}. Place on lightly greased oven trays.

Using the end of a wooden spoon {or a toddler’s finger – they’ll LOVE this bit!}, gently push an indentation into the centre of each biscuit, but don’t push right through.

Fill with about ½ teaspoon jam.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Leave on trays until cold.

OPTIONAL: Melt 125g dark cooking chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.(Liss cheated by melting it in the microwave - 1 minute on 50% power, stir and another minute on 50% heat) Spoon on to a saucer for easier handling and dip the bases of biscuits into the chocolate. (Do this if doing it with the kids, they can have a saucer each) Smooth excess chocolate off with a small spatula or knife. (kids will do this with fingers) Place cookies, jam side down, on to trays lined with foil and refrigerate until chocolate is firm.

It is a totally delicious treat for Daddy (or Mummy) with a coffee or hot chocolate -enjoy!

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4 lovely comments:

Megan Blandford on February 27, 2011 at 7:46 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Liss, thank you so much for having me! And I LOVE all your photos - looks like the girls enjoyed making them.


Tania McCartney on February 27, 2011 at 8:09 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Ok - I have to try these. NOW! Can we have them for breakfast??

Lucy on February 27, 2011 at 3:17 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

What a trest. Megan & Liss, you are a lovely team. Gorgeous recipe and post and photos from both of you!


Lucy on February 27, 2011 at 3:18 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Treat, even. D'oh! xx


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