A little while ago Hattie Garlick of Free Our Kids invited me to take part in a meme she has set up entitled Bringing Kids Books To Life. The aim is to, well, bring a kids book to life by enacting out the contents with your littl’uns. Fortunately for me, being a food blogger, I didn’t have to think too far out of the box to work out how to turn an idea from the pages of a book back into something tangible. I just picked a recipe book, and cooked something from it with my daughter.
My choice of recipe book is pretty significant here because it’s the very same book that I learnt to cook with as a child: The Usborne First Cookbook, 1987 edition. I discarded my copy in an attempt to reduce the amount of clutter at home, only to find it in a charity shop a few years later, on one of my many tired and aimless excursions around town with a small baby. Pulling it from the shelf – possibly the same copy I had donated years earlier – I was overcome with nostalgia and took it home with me, where I stowed it away for when S grew old enough.
A year or more later, S is now a fully walking, talking, two-and-a-half-year-old, and while I have boasted many a time on here about the pleasures of making bread with her I should just admit that I AM A TOTAL CONTROL FREAK. I have never, until now, given my daughter almost free-reign on activities such as cake baking. Yes. On the blog you may see her handling dough like a pro, but behind the lens I have carefully torn her off a chunk to play with while I get on with kneading the rest of it CORRECTLY.
But, with Hattie’s prompt, I realised that it was about time I chilled out and let S take a bit more of a lead on things. So, I chose the book, but I let S select which recipe we should cook from it. Turns out she has good taste and good sense, as she chose marmalade gingerbread: a recipe involving lots of weighing and stirring, so well suited to her skill level and tastier than some of the alternatives. I’m still wondering whether that recipe for leek and tomato soup was meant to be leek and potato.
As you can see from the pictures, S got on really well doing this. I felt a bit voyeuristic and guilty snapping away at her constantly on my iPhone – as you may have guessed by the recent lull in posting on this blog, I have been feeling something of a social media overload – but at least my role taking pictures helped prevent me from butting in on the cooking as much as I have a tendency to do. The resulting cake mixture was as good as any I would have made myself, and the resulting mess on the worktop I think makes for some really energetic food photography.
One problem. In my desperation to let my daughter get as much from the process of cooking as possible, I made the mistake of letting her turn on the oven. I then got distracted, and missed out on the fact S had edged the dial from 170c to grill. When the smell of carbon wafted over the washing up, I ran to the oven a little too late. Our wonderful marmalade cake, made with the only jar of Aunt Kate’s delicious homemade, organic, lemon and orange marmalade, had the appearance of shiny black leatherette.*
Recipe from The Usborne First Cookbook by Angela Wilkes and Stephen Cartwright
250g (80z) self-raising flour1 beaten egg
90g (3oz) butter or margarine
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
150g (5oz) golden syrup
250g (8oz) chunky marmalade
2 tbsp hot water
a pinch of salt
Pre-heat oven to 170c
Grease and line a 20cm square cake tin
Melt the butter and golden syrup together over a low heat.
Sift the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the melted butter, syrup and beaten egg. Stir gently to combine, then gently fold in the marmalade. The mixture should be soft and slightly runny.
Pour into a prepared cake tin and spread evenly.
Bake in a central oven for one hour. (On a subsequent attempt making this cake I found the cake was slightly over baked after 50 minutes cooking time, so check with a skewer after 40-45 minutes.)
*I should add that, after cutting off the burnt bits, the cake was still really darn tasty, even if it was only a fraction of the intended size.
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About Chloe King
I'm a freelance writer, designer and webby type. I live with my husband and daughter in the south of England. I like to cook and can throw a good party.
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