Kids can cook!


PROUD AS PUNCH Louis and Penny arranging their buns on a cake stand.

Penny and Louis take over the Cabots’ kitchen

The Cabots

It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. Penny and Louis sidled up to me, looking like they’d been plotting something.
“Mummy. We want to bake something. Totally on our own. No help from you,” announced Penny. Louis nodded in a serious way.
Two immediate thoughts entered my mind. A: Freedom! Peace and quiet, for however limited a time. B: Just how badly can an unaccompanied ten-year-old and five-year-old trash a kitchen in a short period of time? Thought A won out. There was a newspaper to be read. Pottering to do in a sunny garden. Alone!

Secret mission
Their baking assignment was a secret mission. I was to know nothing until the goodies were produced.
Okay, there were a few clues.
“Mummy, does cinnamon start with an ‘s’ or a ‘c’?”
“Do we have fast-acting yeast?”
“What’s the difference between ordinary flour and strong flour?”
With a stern warning not to leave a mess, I let them at it. After a while, a Christmassy smell of spice started to seep through the house. I went out wandering among daffodils and wild garlic flowers on the brink of bursting open. I enjoyed the sound of the first bees, buzzing overhead on the willow trees, feeding on catkins. Nice.
I had a look at the rhubarb we planted last year. You have to wait a year before you can harvest the rhubarb – and it’s coming to life! Watch this space for a rhubarb tart in the coming months…
I returned to the kitchen. The house wasn’t on fire and Penny and Louis had tidied up. Amazing!
Even more amazing were the beautiful cinnamon yeast rolls they were arranging on Penny’s blue cake stand (a Christmas present from her God-sister Bea, bought from the lovely Townhouse store on Shop Street, Westport). The buns were delicious – but why cinnamon rolls, I asked. Because we just felt like them, they replied, proud as punch. And their mummy was proud too.

Louis and Penny’s cinnamon buns

What you need
For the dough

  • 100g butter
  • 200ml full fat milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250g plain flour
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 1.5 tsp fast acting yeast
  • 4 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive oil for greasing a muffin tin

For the filling and topping:

  • 75g soft butter
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 beaten egg

What you do
Put the butter, milk and salt in a saucepan and heat gently ’til the butter melts. Cool until the liquid is lukewarm.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, cinnamon and sugar, and mix well. Make a well in the middle and break in the eggs. Add the lukewarm milk mixture and stir until you achieve a sticky dough. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to work the dough.
Grease a clean work surface with a spoonful of olive oil, turn out the dough and knead for five to ten minutes. Avoid using extra flour; use a scraper if dough sticks to the surface. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Roll into a ball, place in a large greased bowl and leave in a warm place to prove for an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
To make the filling and topping, mix the butter with half the sugar and one tablespoon of the cinnamon. Mix the sugar and spice into the butter until all is soft and completely combined. Mix the remaining sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl and set aside for later.
When the dough has risen, pop it out on a very lightly floured surface and roll into a 36cm x 24cm rectangle. Spread the cinnamon/butter/sugar mix evenly over the top of the rectangle using a palette knife.
Bring the longest edge close to you and roll the dough into a cylinder shape. Cut into 12 even slices, and place into a greased muffin tin. Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 30-40 minutes until risen.
Preheat your oven to 200ºC. Glaze the tops of the buns with beaten egg and sprinkle liberally with the cinnamon sugar. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the buns are golden brown and oozing with delicious cinnamon butter! Eat straight from the oven.

– Sandra

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.