I am so close to being finished with Miss Mouse. I was all ready to unveil her for the ‘Ta-dah’ moment today, but alas, life gets in the way, and I wasn’t able to finish her last night. Soon...
So how ‘bout a spot of baking, then? Chocolate chip shortbread, anyone?
I love love love to bake. I learned it loooong before I started crafting, with the World’s Greatest Baker, my Grandma, as my guide and inspiration.
When the world is too much, I hide in the kitchen and mix up something scrumptious. Baking calms and centres me, helps me to focus on the task at hand and forget whatever else is complicating life – and best of all, we all get yummy treats as a result! You won’t find that in any yoga class... ;-)
My baby-pink Kitchenaid mixer is my favourite thing in the whole wide world. If the house was burning down, I’d leave the photos and grab this. The children can find their own way out.
The best thing about my mixer is that it allows me to multi-task. While it’s whipping away a buttercream frosting, I’m tidying the ingredients away and washing up (the longer you whip the frosting, the fluffier it gets. I’m talkin’ a good 8-10 minutes). And because it makes it all so easy, I use it *a lot*. Best investment. There’s always some homemade goodies around, and I also keep a stash of cookies in the freezer for lunchboxes and drop-in guests.
Here she is at work on the shortbread. Oops, I forgot to give the recipe! This is a good standby when you need something in a hurry, as the ingredients should all be readily available. I created this recipe after testing out a few others (in UK/US measurements):
225g/8oz butter, room temperature
100g/4oz golden caster sugar (US: granulated sugar), plus extra for dusting
225g/8oz plain flour
75g/3oz cornflour (cornstarch)
100g/4oz chocolate chips
Cream the butter and sugar until mixed, but do not whip it pale and fluffy (see photo above).
Combine the plain flour and cornflour, then gradually add to the butter and sugar, mixing until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Hey! Get out of there! (This is Little Flower, my 3-year-old baking assistant, obviously checking my technique.)
Press the mixture into a 23cm/9in square pan. At this point, most recipes say to smooth with a spatula or knife, but this can be a bit fiddly. Try dipping a spoon in a small cup of water, then smoothing the surface with the back of the spoon
Make sure the spoon isn’t dripping wet – just wet enough so the dough doesn’t stick to the spoon. See the difference? Then prick all over with a fork and pop in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170◦C/325◦F. Bake for 35-45 minutes until pale gold. Put the tin on a cooling rack, score with a knife into squares or bars, then sprinkle all over with sugar. Try to wait until they cool...but I can testify that they are very tasty when I impatiently nibble one while still warm, they are delicious when cool, and they provide just the right amount of sweet and carbs to satisfy a mid-afternoon slump, with a hot cup of tea of course!
Here’s a tip that seems obvious but for some reason I never figured out until I saw it: to make evenly sized bars or squares, don’t start scoring at the left side and work your way over, like I used to do, ending up with some even rows and then a narrow one at the end. Cut the whole thing in half, then cut each half in half, and hey-ho, you have even rows!
Have a lovely weekend, and happy crafting!