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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 17 September, 2019

'Every occasion requires a cake': 5 child-friendly recipes for Easter from mum-of-five Nicola

Nicola Naessens cooks from scratch “as much as possible.”

EACH WEEK, WE ask a home cook about the dishes they’ve been whipping up of late. The kind of food you don’t need a recipe for, from quick snacks to empty-the-fridge dinners.

This week, Nicola Naessens (@simplyhomemadenicola) shared five kid-friendly recipes that are perfect to make with the little ones in the run up to Easter… or by yourself. 

“My cooking style is very much simple food cooked from scratch as much as possible,” says Wexford-based Nicola. “I have five children so I’m catering to everyone’s taste and, of course, I have a budget to stick to. I feel it’s important to show that home cooking doesn’t need to be expensive or fancy to taste good.”

From a quick and easy soda bread to Easter bunny shortbread, below are five of Nicola’s go-to recipes.

1. Easter bunny shortbread: Shortbread is quick and easy and has lots of flavour options. I added orange zest to these and my daughter was only too happy to adorn them with buttercream we had left from something else. To make them, preheat the oven to 160C. Put 100g flour, 50g cornflour, 50g caster sugar and 100g butter in a food processor and pulse until it comes together. Then, for some extra fun, hand it over to the children and let them get creative. Bake for 15 minutes.

Easter Bunny Cookies Source: Nicola Naessens

2. ‘Jam trickers’ cookies: Baking is a big thing in my kitchen and I love to involve the children. My six-year-old daughter and I made these cookies recently. I made the dough and let it chill in the fridge, then I got her involved. Children can be impatient bakers, so I like to involve them from the moment there’s no waiting except for the finished product to emerge from the oven.

Once I took the dough from the fridge, I showed my girl what to do and just helped when she asked. These were an almond cookie with gorgeous strawberry jam in them. She named them ‘jam trickers‘ as they reminded her of Jammie Dodgers!

Cookies Source: Nicola Naessens

3. Victoria sponge: With Easter on the horizon, as with all occasions, I get to thinking about what I shall bake. Personally, I’m not a mad Easter fan but the kids love it so I do make an effort for them. Every occasion in our home requires cake and at Easter, I keep it simple with a classic Victoria sponge, filled with cream and lemon or orange curd. A fresh, delicious cake that tastes of spring!

Victoria Sponge Source: Nicola Naessens

4. Breakfast pancakes: Most of us in the Simply Homemade home are breakfast lovers. The children love pancakes and have them numerous times per week. If I had to choose a ‘super food’, it would be porridge oats. When there are porridge oats in the press, one will never be hungry. I keep a jar of oats blended into flour and often add this to the pancakes, or I make full porridge pancakes. I use oats in smoothies, baked oats, overnight oats, porridge bread… the list is endless.

Pancakes Source: Nicola Naessens

5. Soda bread: I try to bake as much of our own bread as possible, and soda bread is what I make most often. It’s so quick and easy. A loaf of soda bread has four ingredients; 450g plain flour, 1tsp bread soda, a pinch of salt and 320-350mls of buttermilk. Making it is not hard work. Sift the flour and bread soda together, add the salt and stir. Make a well, add the buttermilk and bring it altogether so you have ‘craggy’ dough.

Tip it out onto a floured surface and bring together. Knead lightly, the lighter the handling, the lighter the loaf. Place the loaf on a floured baking sheet and cut a cross in the top of the loaf. Bake on 200C (fan oven) for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 180C and bake for a further 30 minutes. That’s it!

Soda Bread Source: Nicola Naessens

More: ‘It’s a hug in a bowl’: 5 plant-based recipes from a keen cook in Wicklow

More: ‘It’s my take on a childhood classic’: 5 all-time favourites from a keen Tipperary home cook

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