How important is involving children in cooking? I think it's a crucial life skill that needs to be encouraged at a very young age. I've vowed not to let one child of mine leave home without a good set of cooking skills under their belt-and not only the essentials. If you're wondering how to instill a love for cooking in your kids, there's a wonderful guide to cooking skills outlining appropriate cooking tasks listed by age, starting from three years and up. As painfully slow and messy it can be, I always allow my kids to get involved when I'm baking. They're too small to do much yet, but they do love activities like beating, rolling, measuring, sifting, licking the spoon....
BASIC SUGAR COOKIES (Adapted by Love Food pg.16)
115g butter, softened
55g caster sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 egg yolk
175g plain flour
Mix the butter and sugar with beaters until creamy. Beat in the rind and the yolk. Sift in the flour and mix into a soft dough. Gently knead until smooth, then halve the dough and form into two balls. Wrap in cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or the freezer for 20 minutes)
Preheat the oven to 180C (350F).
Grease and line two baking trays.
Unwrap the dough and roll out on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of about 5mm/1/4 inch. Using a heart shaped cutter, cut out the dough and place the shapes on the baking trays with at least 2cm space between them.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden.
Remove from oven and cool on a cooling rack. When completely cool, ice with royal icing, and decorate if desired.
2 tbsp beaten egg white
175g icing sugar
water or lemon juice, if needed
Place the egg white in a bowl and add a little sugar. Beat until smooth. Gradually beat in the remaining sugar to make a smooth, thick icing that holds soft peaks. For a thinner, spreadable icing, beat in a few drops of water or lemon juice to get the required consistency. To colour the icing, use a toothpick to add a little liquid or gel food colouring an mix thoroughly.
To ice the hearts, outline the cookies with the thicker icing and allow o ry, then fill in with a more spreadable royal icing. We decorated with a smaller version of these gumpaste roses and store bought edible pearls.