Friday, February 4, 2011

Cooking with Kids

With two kids and winter weather like this, this stir crazy mom has to come up with new ideas to beat the cabin fever.  My go-to activity is baking and today we made scones.

Scones are breadlike Scottish pastries, regularly included as a part of British afternoon tea.  You can make virtually any kind of scone -- nut, raisin or other dried fruit, chocolate chip, or any combination therein.  You can also make savory scones with herbs, bacon, sausage, or cheese.  Today we made cinnamon almond scones.  My two and a half year old loves to measure and mix, and most of the ingredients made it into the bowl.  Some, however, ended up on the floor or on his once dark brown sweater.

 To make scones you will need the following:

2 1/2 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 eggs
3/4 cups milk or heavy cream
1/2 cup chosen added ingredient (I used chopped almonds, plus 1 tablespoon cinnamon)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  (Add cinnamon here, if using.)
Cut the butter into the dry mix, or smoosh it in with your fingers, until it looks like large crumbs
Combine the eggs, milk, and added ingredients
Pour the wet into the dry and stir until combined
Knead inside the bowl until it is dry and uniform, adding flour as necessary
Form a circle and cut it into 8 wedges
Separate and place on ungreased baking sheet 2 inches apart
Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar
Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes

When I was in fourth or fifth grade, we had some sort of international fair that required kids to bring in a baked good from their cultural background.  Based on the small percentage of Scottish blood on my mother's side, I decided to make scones.  My mom and I found a recipe for plain scones, and I wasn't surprised when none of the kids wanted to try them.  They were pretty bland.

Since then, I have tried many additional ingredients and come to love the slightly dry crumbly scone not only for their taste, but for their infinite possibilities.  Tomorrow we can use the same basic procedure and create a whole new treat by substituting dried cranberries.  Or fresh rosemary.  Or cocoa powder.  Baking scones is a simple kid-friendly activity, and they make a delicious afternoon snack.  I was glad to share the experience with my son.  I'll remember the apron next time, though.

Serve warm with lots of butter!