Gingerbread art for rainy days

These days surprisingly we have been rewarded with a few warm days after a very long and cold winter. I thought I’d ever say these words here in Melbourne as I always compare this winter with the one in Europe just to conclude that they are nothing alike.

This winter though, was something different. Long and very cold, making us unwell all the time. When finally the weather changed its course and spring offered us different colours, followed by a different fragrance in the air and everything seems to be falling into a good place, Maksim got sick – again. Thankfully good treatment worked perfectly and he was much better after just a few days. Still, it was highly suggested to us to keep him away from a big crowd (like a classroom) for a couple of weeks. I am not used to seeing my child being so sick and I followed advice without asking additional questions. We are going to stay out of school but since he is  feeling better we need a home schooling program or at least  an organised fun time, otherwise we will end up with a bored child (and we all know what that looks like) and a screaming mother!

On the first day that Maksim felt like doing something exiting we ended up – baking! He wanted to make gingerbread and more importantly to decorate them, because that would be the funniest part. I had no objection to that as I know that art finds its mysterious ways – everywhere. Let me just add, they are very tasty too! Although cookies don’t match my idea of healthy eating and recovering from the nasty bacteria, we ate most of them in no time.

While this might seem just like a fun time to you, I assure you that it was not. Even better, I’ll give you the inside of our fun baking time.

We had a chance to talk about numbers and letters, while writing a recipe. We talked about different geometric shapes while comparing different baking tins. The oven could be dangerous while it’s hot, so we talked about high temperatures which ultimately led us to the Sun and Solar system…different colours of different planets gave us ideas for the colours he used for colouring the cookies. We talked about healthy eating and we even managed to keep honey in this recipe, which is a small milestone as honey was always a big NO to this little guy. We counted cookies and divided them between two baking tins. Then we summed them up again so we knew what the total number was – because math is fun! I decorated one heart and he did the other and we dedicated one to each other. We talked about love, how to be together and how to separate (while Maksim mostly talked about us being baker kings as he was so proud of our work). Again the major lesson on family stability, support and trust. We ate them while doing different artwork and we agreed that they are super yummy and well deserved to be shared… and that is how we had a sweet day baking, exercising our brains and recognising our emotions at the same time.

Of course we watched loads of movies, played with Lego and cooked other meals but a little project like this one made a difference to our staying at home days.

Gingerbread 

250 gr plain flour

130 gr rye flour

150 gr butter

50 gr brown sugar

4 tablespoons honey

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ginger

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 lemon zest

Icing:

500 gr powdered sugar

food colours of your choice

1/2 lemon juice

a few drops of water

Melt the butter and sugar over low heat, until the sugar dissolves. Leave aside to cool for a few minutes. Add  honey and stir until honey is melted.

In a medium sized bowl mix all dry ingredients, flours, spices, baking powder, baking soda and lemon zest.

In a smaller bowl mix the egg with a whisker until fluffy. Pour butter mix over the egg, making sure that the butter is not too hot as the egg will curdle/cook in that case.

Add all wet ingredients to the flour mix and knead until all combined. Wrap into a clear wrap and leave into the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Once ready to use, take the dough out of the fridge, leave for 15 minutes to rest on the work surface. Roll over between two baking papers into a 4-5 millimetre thick dough. Cut out the gingerbread dough using a  cutter and place onto a baking tray, previously lined with baking paper.

Bake for 12-14 minutes on 180C. Once baked leave on the cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.

For decoration use an icing mix of powdered sugar, lemon juice and a few drops of water if needed. The icing needs to be very thick but be careful as you have to be able to squeeze it through a piping bag. Use food colours for your colour choice. We ended up using an icing set bought at the market as that was easier for little hands. That’s fine too.

spelt chocolate chip cookies

spelt chocolate chip cookies

We met a while ago, chocolate chip cookies and me, at one of our family gatherings on the Mediterranean seaside at my sister’s holiday house. The days were relaxing as they can be on holidays and we were busy only at dinner time. The adults used to make the dinner and the kids were in charge of the desserts. Although we were quite often treated with the ice cream from the gelateria just meters away from the house, a very special treat was – chocolate chip cookies! My nieces use to bake them for all of us, but I remember them disappearing quickly, without us having a chance to taste them. Turns out that my nephew was the main culprit. They were his favourite then and from what I hear, they still are. Actually, kids sharing the sweets between them was a good thing, especially with these kinds of treats! After all they are more a kids treat anyway.

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Besan flower cookies

besan flour cookies

I was working on something completely different when I got the urge to bake these. It was irresistible and kind of a right now thing and I simply had to skip to this recipe. I have found that I have the urge to bake these on a dreary day. Their warm yellow colour always improves my mood, the only funny thing is – today is one of those beautiful sunny winter days. It’s hard to believe we are in the middle of winter! So what could it be? Just a random urge? Either way, I baked them and I’ll enjoy them tonight with a friend who offered some tea to accompany the cookies. This flour is one of those which are either loved or not! Some people might find it’s strong and almost bitter aftertaste too much to deal with. Actually I believe my husband might be one of them. Of course he doesn’t say anything, wise man that he is, but the fact that I get to eat most of these cookies is telling me that this could be the case. Just for the record – I am not complaining! Open your mind and you might like them too.

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