butter-cookies2I am lucky to have two nieces who are willing to participate in my baking ventures.  Recently I made high-hat cupcakes with my niece B.  Last weekend it was mini butter cookies with my 5-year-old niece L.

L. just started 1st Grade.  She was not very pleased with the idea (unlike her prep year) as she knew school time now involved homework.  But in anticipation of a year of learning – and under the guise of baking – L. and I combined a little spelling activity with our baking over the weekend.  This did not require pen or paper but basic cookie dough and 26 letter cut-outs.

L. had fun helping make the basic cookie recipe, guessing why we needed to chill it in the fridge before rolling, and then finding the letters needed to spell out the names of her loved ones.  She had her family names down pat so I asked her to find me (minus ‘Auntie’).  After a little sounding out, she correctly spelled my name.  Gold stars all round.  (I think she will do just fine in 1st Grade.)

L. then decorated each name with individually selected colours and sprinkles.  She presented her work proudly to her family when she went home. 

Another successful baking day with my beautiful nieces.

{ Butter Cookies }

butter-cookiesNow for the recipe.  There are no special techniques required.  It is a simple butter cookie dough ideal for cut outs.  The only requirement is you need to chill the dough for about 1 hour before rolling out.  Also, if you are working in hot weather (as I often am in Queensland), you may need to re-chill your dough as you re-roll.  Apart from that, it is a snap – and perfect for letting little ones tap into their creativity (or testing their spelling!).

* Ingredients *

For the cookie:
125g unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the icing:
2 cups icing sugar (powdered)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
Colouring, optional
* Directions *

For the cookies, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Then beat in the egg. Add the vanilla and mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Add to the creamed mixture and stir until smooth. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).
Divide the dough into 2 or 3 portions. On a generously floured board, roll out each ½ cm (1/4 inch) thick. Cut out shapes using flour-dipped cookie cutters and place cookies on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Let cool on rack.  For the icing, blend the sugar, lemon juice, and water in a bowl. Add more water if needed to thin icing. Divide the icing in half. Add the colouring (if using) to one half and mix until the colour is even. Spread the icing evenly over the cooled cookies. Add sprinkles if desired.

Happy kid’s baking!