Last week, I found myself searching for a fun, kids-friendly recipe that would engage them manually and keep their attention on baking. You’d think that kneading the pastry dough and cutting out cookie shapes will be enough to keep the kids interested, but it does not (obviously). Children, I have recently discovered, are really energetic, and creative at that.
This recipe, however, seems to be foolproof: kids love the colours, the manual work involved in creating the rainbow pattern and the cute shapes of ready cookies. Me and Klaudik tested this recipe few times during our baking workshops for kids at neighbouring primary schools. We even managed to get teenage boys involved in baking, who, although at first reluctant, allowed themselves to have fun during the workshop.
The rainbow (okay, it’s a bit pale) on the cookies is all naturally dyed, with food dyes you can easily make at home with ingredients available all-year-round. Join us in the joy of baking!
DREAMY RAINBOW COOKIES
makes about 30
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
4 different food dyes (recipe below)
purple food colouring
handful of frozen bilberries or blueberries
Blitz the berries with a bit of water (just enough for blender to work, the less the better). When they become a pulp, strain them using muslin. Leave for about 30 minutes. You can use both: the liquid and the leftover pulp to colour food. Pulp gives stronger, more intense purple hue.
pink food colouring
Boil the beetroots and beetroot peels (make sure to wash them thoroughly before doing so!) in a small amount of water, just enough to roughly cover the beets. Once boiled, blitz them into mush in a blender. Strain the pulp using a piece of cloth or muslin. Preserve both, the resulting liquid and the pulp.
green food colouring
handful of frozen spinach
muslin or cloth
Add a handful of frozen spinach and a small amount of water to a blender. Blitz into mush. Strain the pulp using a piece of cloth or muslin. Preserve both, the pulp and the liquid.
orange food colouring
muslin or cloth
Boil the carrots and carrot peels (make sure the carrots are washed before!) in a small amount of water. Once boiled, blitz into mush in a blender. Strain the pulp using a piece of cloth or a muslin. Preserve both, the pulp and the liquid.
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Using an electric mixer, blend the butter until fluffy. Add sugar and mix a bit more. Then, add an egg and vanilla extract, mix until smooth.
2. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. On a pastry board, mix together wet ingredients with the dry ones. Knead a smooth dough.
3. Divide the dough into 4 even portions. Colour each one of them by adding 1-2 teaspoons of food colouring to each. If you want your colours more pronounced, you can also knead some of the pulp in the dough. Bare in mind, however, that the food dyes you made also have a flavour! You probably don’t want your cookies tasting of spinach and beetroot.
4. Divide each of the coloured dough balls into 4 portions. On a piece of baking parchment, roll each portion into a long, thin snake of dough.
5. Line up the rolls of dough on a sheet of baking parchment. Using your hands, press the rolls into each other and then place another sheet of baking parchment on top of the dough.
6. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to about 0,5cm thick, making sure the dough rolls underneath the parchment are joined together.
7. Place the sheets of dough in the fridge to cool before you start cutting out the cookies. Chilling the dough will help the cookies keep their shape while baking.
8. Cut out the cookies as close together as possible. You can use up the scraps of dough again, of course, but it won’t be a rainbow anymore but a mishmash of colours.
9. Bake the cookies a baking tray lined with baking parchment for about 8-10 minutes in 180 degrees Celsius. The cookie edges should be slightly golden.
11. Once baked, transfer to a wire rack to cool. If you have a lot of scrap dough, I strongly encourage to use it! Gather it together, and knead into a dough ball, not minding the suspicious colour you will probably get in the process. My solution for that was a pink (beetroot dye) icing and a sprinkle of pink sugar (also beetroot). To make icing, simply mix a squeeze of lemon juice with icing sugar and a few drops of pink food colouring. Decorate the (cooled) cookies with icing, and sprinkle with sugar if you like.
Hope you had fun!