Lockdown has locked in and we feel like we're constantly on the hunt for the best indoor activities the whole family can get involved in. Why not do some classic baking? Whether you're a family of Mary Berrys or you and your kids have never so much as looked at a wooden spoon, baking has been one of the staple rainy day indoor activities for generations. It's a great way to get together and see if you can turn basic ingredients into a delicious masterpiece.
After a quick search through the archives, we've collected the 5 best recipes that you can make with your children, whatever their ages. They're all brilliantly simple and have under 10 ingredients. One of the best things about baking is that you probably have all of the ingredients in your cupboard already, which makes it a great indoor activity for lockdown. So grab your apron, wash those hands and let’s get baking!
1. Iced Letter Biscuits
Now's your chance to learn the alphabet and bake at the same time. Who said baking wasn't an educational activity?
You’ll need: 200g unsalted butter, 200g golden caster sugar, 1 large egg, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 400g plain flour, icing sugar and food colouring
Preheat your oven to 200°C/160°C fan. Beat your softened butter in a bowl (use an electric whisk if you have one) and add sugar until it is light and fluffy, then add your egg and vanilla. Finally, carefully add your flour and it’ll soon turn into a dough. Cut your dough into about 6 pieces, dust flour onto your kitchen counter so that it doesn’t stick and roll out each dough piece one at a time to half a centimetre thick. If you’ve got younger kids, cut out the letters of the alphabet or spell out their name to make it a fun learning experience too! Cut out shapes, roll the dough and repeat until there’s no dough left. Put greaseproof paper onto a baking tray and place as many biscuits as you can onto the sheet, without them touching. Cook each batch for 7-10 minutes. When you’ve cooked all batches, let them cool and you're ready to ice! Just mix up your icing sugar with a few drops of water and food colouring until it reaches your desired consistency and colour - be careful to only add little bits of water at a time!
Okay, this one's not technically baking, but what family doesn't love pancakes? Turn it into a motor skills development activity and see if you can flip a pancake without breaking it!
You’ll need: 100g plain flour, 2 eggs, 300ml milk, 1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
Sift your flour into a large bowl and then add your wet ingredients. Whisk everything together so that there are no lumps and it becomes a smooth batter. If you have time, leave to set for 30 minutes, during which it’ll thicken up slightly. When you’re ready to cook, let a splash of oil heat up in a medium-sized frying pan. Drop a tiny amount of batter onto the pan - if it sizzles, it’s hot enough. Add about a ladleful of batter to the pan and spread it around evenly. When the edges start to curl up (after a minute or 2) flip it and cook for another minute or so. Top with whatever delicious fillings you have in your cupboard!
3. Banana Bread
One of the best things to do with overripe bananas destined for the bin is to whip up a yummy banana bread. Anyway, if it has fruit in that means it's healthy, right?
You’ll need: 140g butter, 140g caster sugar, 2 large eggs, 140g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 very ripe bananas. Note: A good tip if you don’t have butter is to swap it out for vegetable or sunflower oil. You only need 3/4 of the amount of oil so bear that in mind.
Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Grease your large loaf tin (it should be around 21 x 11 x 7cm) with butter and line the sides with greaseproof paper. Combine softened butter and caster sugar together and then add your eggs. Slowly fold in your flour, baking powder and mashed bananas and mix until smooth. Pour this into your tin and bake for around 30-40 minutes - a knife or skewer should come out clean when pushed into it. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack. The loaf tastes great as it is but you could cut it into slices and spread butter on it, or make a quick icing with icing sugar and water and drizzle that over the top. Banana bread is also great toasted AND it can be frozen, making it the perfect lockdown supply, so if your loaf is starting to go off simply slice it up, freeze in doggy bags, and pop a slice in the toaster when you're ready for a breakfast treat!
4. Cornflake Cakes
You’ll need: 100g milk chocolate, 50g dark chocolate, 100g butter, 4 tbsp golden syrup and 100g of cornflakes or rice pops
Break up your chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, letting the steam melt it. Keep stirring, take off the heat and add in your cereal of choice until every piece is covered. From here, split the mixture into 12 cupcake cases. While they’re still sticky you can add decorations like Mini Eggs, Smarties or sprinkles. Let the cakes set in the fridge for at least an hour and then they’re ready to eat!
5. Chocolate Chip Cookies
Whatever the ages of your children, you can never go wrong with chocolate chip cookies. They're a classic for a reason!
You'll need: 150g butter, 80g brown sugar (light or dark), 80g granulated sugar, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 egg, 225g plain flour, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, pinch of salt and 200g chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan and line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Combine softened butter (pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds if it's too hard) and sugar in a bowl until it's light and creamy. Next, add your vanilla extract and egg, beating until smooth. Sift flour and add bicarbonate of soda and salt into the bowl, mixing with a wooden spoon until it turns to a sticky dough consistency. Add in your chocolate chips and stir - or use your hands! Your cookies will spread out a lot when they bake so only use about a teaspoon of dough per cookie, making sure there's space between them on your baking trays. Place your trays in the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, when they should be slightly crispy around the edges but soft in the centre. Don't leave them in any longer as they'll keep cooking a bit more on the baking tray. Leave on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then put them on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
The dough makes about 30 cookies so our top tip is to bake half of them and then put the remaining dough in the fridge (where it'll keep for up to 2 weeks) and save it for a rainy day!