Jet loves baking, and he is always asking to make things. Usually involving chocolate. I gave up trying to get Jet to embrace healthy cake – he never ate it, so it was just a waste of ingredients. And maybe he’s right – maybe baked foods shouldn’t be healthy, maybe they should be sweet and crumbly and delicious. Putting in the right quantities of butter and sugar results in food creations that my children will actually eat. So I’m going with that!
I don’t know where Katie from I Can Cook finds these children who eat her healthy inventions without saying “It’s nice. But it’s a bit horrible.” Throughout the process, I channel the multi-talented Katie but in a slightly lower key, and sing us through the hand washing and tidying up.
I am doubtful that beneath the counter she is trying not to trip over a small girl-child who has no understanding of the concept of personal space. Katie’s co-chefs seem to be aware of her need for elbow room. Also, Katie probably doesn’t gesticulate quite so emphatically. She maintains her calm aura at all times, with a healthy pinch of fun, whereas I can get a bit screechy when baking with the children.
Chocolate rock cakes – makes 10-12 generous buns
350g plain flour
a pinch of salt
2 level tsp baking powder
175g light brown soft sugar
175g cold butter
200g chocolate chunks
1 large egg
A splash of milk (as needed)
Preheat oven to Gas 5/190°/170° fan
1. Stir the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar together, breaking up the sugary lumps.
2. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour and sugar mixture.
I have already combined the flour, salt, sugar and raising agent (yes, I did do the baking powder face on my own) and rubbed in the butter before I call the children in to help me. Rubbing in is my least favourite of all cooking jobs. I favour a flaky consistency, rather than fine breadcrumbs, mainly due to the fact I lose the will to rub before my ingredients ever reach that state.
3. Add the chocolate chunks.
Enter the children, to first act out their role as official chocolate samplers. After this, Jet breaks up the chocolate into outlandishly massive chunks whilst Stella is busy getting in everyone’s way a bit. I don’t see the point in the chocolate chip. Far too small and missable. We go large.
4. Crack an egg into a separate bowl and whisk it.
Jet’s favourite job, after chocolate tasting, is egg cracking. I trust him with this, although he is yet to settle on a technique, and his experiments are usually flawed. Today, he tried to split the shell from bottom to top rather than horizontally, with explosive results.
5. Add the egg, stir to form a stiff dough.
Jet, having performed his egg-cracking routine and showered himself in shell and albumen, has gone to wash his hands. Stella steps in to whisk the egg. I give what I think are clear instructions relating to hygiene and the handling of ingredients. Katie certainly doesn’t tend to repeat herself as much as I do.
6. Add a little milk, if necessary, to bring it together.
We combine it all together, to Stella’s protestations of “Oh, my egg! Oh, my chocolate! Oh, my milk!” at each addition. A quick stir and we are ready to mound the crumb-like mixture up on the baking sheet.
7. Form mounds of the mixture on a baking tray, leaving space for them to spread.
I allow Jet to spoon the dough onto the tray, but to achieve anything resembling what Paul and Mary would call an ‘even bake’ it is necessary for me to redistribute some of the mixture afterwards.
8. Bake for 18-20 minutes, cool and store in an airtight container.
I found my stomach more than adequate for this purpose. They do taste best the day they are made, so it is best to eat them all up. You have my permission.
Serve with a cup of milk and a tray of Lego
These are a good size for an adult, but a little on the massive side for children. Although it goes against my nature, I have tried making them smaller, but they were dry. Best just make them huge and cut them in half for the little folk/less greedy amongst us. We took this batch on a picnic, for which they are perfect.