The smell of shortbread cookies baking in the oven has got to be something childhood memories are made of. You almost don’t need to check the timer or the oven – your nose is the better judge of when these soft, round biscuits of dough have transformed into melt in your mouth moments of pleasure. Cookies are a big hit in the HonieHouse.
HonieDaddie’s family live over in British Columbia, Canada and his Dad used to work in the bakery of the Safeway store in Nelson, BC. If a child approaches the counter of the bakery and asks for a cookie, they get a whole one (all to themselves). So when we visit, it’s a big deal to make sure we visit the bakery counter and it’s a delight to watch 3 sets of little fingers reaching up in anticipation of their prize.
HonieGrandad would bring home rolls of cookie cough freshly prepared that day and the children would experiment with the different fillings they could add to make the cookies more favourable. Anything from chocolate chips to peanut butter would go in and sprinkles to finish off, for the real deal.
Making cookies is so easy that your little ones can do it. If they know how to rub things in with their fingers or sprinkle, then they can make cookies. The kitchen floor might resemble the floor of a bakery afterwards – but the experience of making and baking cookies is not to be missed in any childhood.
The recipe I use is simple, easy to remember and is ideal for shortbread (which should easily crumble and definitely melt in your mouth). The children even remember it as the 6, 4, 2 mix! It’s not hard to see why when you look at the ingredients.
This mix can also be frozen: if you plan to do this, then it’s best to make the dough into a roll (sausage) and wrap in cling film till needed. When defrosted you can slice into discs ready to bake.
6oz (150g) plain flour
4oz (100g) unsalted butter
2oz (50g) caster sugar
**To make the cookies more personal and fun to make, look at and eat you could add any one of the following to the mix after all of the above have been added and mixed. If you are experimenting and combining flavours, remember to reduce the amounts:
- Chocolate chips 2oz (50g)
- Coconut 2oz (50g)
- Raisins 2oz (50g)
- Chopped nuts 2oz (50g)
- Sugar strands 1oz (25g)
- Cocoa powder 1oz (25g)
- Peanut butter 1 tablespoon
- Cinnamon 1 teaspoon
- Sweeties (press into cookies before baking)
- Almond essence (add a few drops & stick whole almond on top before baking)
Bowl to mix
Fork to press cookies
2 x baking sheets, lined with greaseproof paper
Fingers for mixing :o)
Set the oven 170 C/325 F/Gas mk 3.
Put all of the main ingredients (flour, butter, sugar) into the bowl and mix, rubbing between your thumbs and fingertips to blend.
**Add the additional flavours (if using) now.
When mix looks a bit like breadcrumbs, squeeze together to make a ball of dough.
Divide the ball into two (one for each large baking tray) and then pinch off smaller balls of dough and roll them into the size of a ping pong ball.
Place the balls onto the baking sheet, leaving room for them to spread and press down each one with the back of a fork (about 5mm high).
Bake for 15-20 mins (I do it for 17 mins) and then remove from oven, leave for 10 mins and then transfer to a rack to cool.
If you want to make shapes instead of simple rounds:
Flour the surface you are working on
Place the ball of dough on surface
Roll out using rolling pin (about 5mm thick)
Use cutters to make shapes
Reform the dough into a ball and repeat
To make iced cookies:
Mix 3 tablespoons of sieved icing sugar with 3 teaspoons of water and mix to a smooth paste.
If adding colour, use a cocktail stick and apply a little at a time mixing thoroughly.
Apply icing mix to cooked and cooled cookies and allow mix to spread over cookie.
Add sprinkles (optional) and allow to set before eating.