Baking with kids: iced butter biscuits

ao bake Collage

As my children grow older, so we grow more adventurous in the kitchen. From pizzas and pasta to carrot cake and chilli con carne, my kids are taking on more and more ambitious projects in the kitchen. But one thing we come back to time and time again, is this easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy recipe for good old iced butter biscuits.
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Parsnip and carrot cakes

While it might be unlikely you’ve arrived at this page if you dislike parsnips, these cakes actually happen to be perfect for anyone who isn’t a member of the parsnip fan club as you would never guess they contained any if you hadn’t been told first.

Beautifully moist and incredibly moreish, they’re a great way to use up unwanted parsnips, particularly when they become a slightly too frequent inclusion in the veg box this time of year.

Personally, I rather like parsnips. They’re delicious roasted, when they take on that sweet caramelised flavour, with a slightly crunchy, slightly chewy texture. My other half however strongly disagrees and groans if he sees them in the fridge. Despite that he gobbled up these parsnip cakes more than happily.

Without the cream cheese topping, they are very tasty and ideal for the children’s packed lunch boxes or an after school treat. But with the topping, they are elevated to a decadent and indulgent level of scrumminess you’d simply never believe a root vegetable could reach.

Parsnip and carrot cakes

Makes 12 muffin-sized cakes

180g butter
250g demerara sugar
100ml honey
3 eggs
250g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
250g parsnips, peeled and grated
150g carrots, peeled and grated
50g sultanas

For the topping (optional)

400g icing sugar
100g cream cheese
50g soft butter

Preheat the oven to 180°C / gas mark 4.

Put the butter, sugar and honey in a large pan and melt over a gentle heat, and allow to cool slightly. Mix in the eggs, and then the flour, baking powder and mixed spice. Then stir in the parsnip, carrot and sultanas.

Spoon the mixture into paper muffin cases in a 12-hole muffin tray and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the top is springy to the touch.

Cool the cakes for five minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the topping, cut up the butter and then cream together with the cheese. Gradually add the icing sugar and beat in until there are no lumps. Smear generously and lovingly over your cakes.

Best eaten with a fork in polite company. But if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself devouring these late at night, straight from the tin and with such gusto you end up with topping all over your face. Bliss!

The icing on the cake

I promised myself some time off over the Christmas break from blogging and tweeting and the like, but my six-year-old Miss Mash has persuaded me to come online to show you her drawing of the Christmas cake I made this year.

This was my first ever attempt at a Christmas cake. I baked it back in November and then dutifully ‘fed’ it whisky every week before icing it a few days before Christmas. We’ve all been very impressed with the result, even if the icing looks a little on the haphazard side! Despite all that whisky, it’s still very light, more like a stollen than the rich fruit cake you might be expecting.

I used a recipe by Guardian food writer Felicity Cloake and followed Nigel Slater’s instructions for the icing.

So here is Miss Mash’s picture of my festive creation. She hopes you like it.

And here’s a photograph of it today.

Excuse the state it’s in, but at least you can see it’s being enjoyed.

Merry Christmas!