I love baking and many happy hours of my childhood were spent baking cakes, biscuits and cupcakes with my mum! Although half of the mixture was eaten before the cakes actually went in the oven (it just tasted so good), the process of mixing the ingredients, watching it cook and sharing out the baked treats was great. It always made me feel proud sharing something I had made and gave me a great sense of achievement; on reflection I didn’t actually do much, my main job was just to make sure I didn’t get any bits of shell in the mixture when I cracked the egg (when you’re four, this requires a lot of concentration).
Anyway, back to the point! I think baking is a great activity for kids and their involvement in the baking process can easily be tailored to their abilities. Pumpkin carving is a favourite activity at Halloween (see my blog post for pumpkin decorating ideas!) and if you keep the insides of the pumpkin after carving it, there are loads of delicious recipes you can enjoy too – two activities for the price of one!
Pumpkin seeds are a delicious, moreish and healthy snack and can be used to decorate salads, pasta dishes and many other main meals. More importantly, they’re very easy to make! It isn’t very complicated, so it’s a good recipe for kids of all ages!
Jamie Oliver’s Pumpkin Seeds
- Scrape out the innards of your pumpkin and give the seeds a wash in a bowl of water
- Spread evenly over a baking tray
- Slosh some olive oil over the seeds
- Sprinkle over some sea salt and freshly ground fennel seeds and chilli flakes. Feel free to experiment with other spices!
- Mix together so all seeds are well coated
- Bake at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 for around 10 minutes, or until seeds are lightly golden brown
- Leave to cool and store in an airtight container. Great snack or to sprinkle over a salad
You can even put the seeds into biscuits!
Nigel Slater’s Savoury Biscuits
- 90g/3¼oz spelt flour
- 50g/1¾oz butter
- 15g/½oz golden linseeds
- 15g/½oz pumpkin seeds
- 15g/½oz black sesame seeds
- 15g/½oz sunflower seeds
- 2 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Mix all the ingredients except the water together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water a little at a time, and bring the mixture together with your hands to form a dough.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to £1 thickness using a rolling pin. Cut into 5cm/2in rounds and transfer to the lined baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp and lightly golden-brown. Serve with cheese.
Pumpkin soup is another easy recipe. Possibly one for older children as the vegetables need chopping and the soup needs blending.
James Martin’s Pumpkin Soup
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1kg/2lb 4oz pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1cm/½in cubes
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 500ml/18fl oz chicken stock
- 1 lime, juice only
- 200ml/7fl oz double cream
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to serve
- 2 tbsp coriander cress
Heat a frying pan until hot, then add the oil, onion and pumpkin and fry for 1-2 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5-6 minutes, or until the squash is tender.
Pour into a blender and blend to a fine purée (do this is batches if necessary).
Place the soup back into a clean saucepan and add the lime juice and cream, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Return to the heat to warm through.
To serve, ladle the soup into soup plates and drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and a scattering of cress.
If it’s something sweet you’re after, try these!
Lorraine Pascale’s Pumpkin and Rosemary Muffins
- 60ml/2fl oz vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
- 180g/6½oz self-raising flour
- 130g/4½oz wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- pinch salt
- 3 fresh rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
- 2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 100ml/4fl oz plain yoghurt
- 275ml/10fl oz milk
- 1 tbsp honey
- 240g/8½oz cooked pumpkin, cut into ½cm/¼in cubes
- handful pumpkin seeds
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Oil a 12-hole muffin tin and line with 12 squares of baking paper. Push the squares down into each hole so that the paper sticks up.
Sift the flours, baking powder, and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Stir in the salt and rosemary. (Reserve any wholegrain left in the sieve.)
Meanwhile in another bowl, mix the eggs, yoghurt, milk, honey and vegetable oil until well combined.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold the ingredients together, but be careful not to over-work the mixture. Stir in most of the pumpkin, reserving a little for the top of the muffins. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases.
Sprinkle the reserved wholegrain, pumpkin and the pumpkin seeds over the muffins. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until the muffins are well risen and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Eat and enjoy!
You could even add a ghost on top and make these cupcakes a Halloween treat!
Nigel Slater’s Festive Flapjacks
- 50g/2oz walnuts
- 4 dried figs
- 30g/1oz sour cherries
- 30g/1oz cranberries
- 30g/1oz pumpkin seeds
- 1 tbsp ground almonds
- 50g/2oz butter
- 100g/3½oz golden caster sugar
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 100g/3½oz porridge oats
- 100g/3½oz rolled oats
- 100g/3½oz dark chocolate
- Turn the oven on to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Roughly chop the walnuts and figs then add to a food processor along with the sour cherries, the cranberries and half the pumpkin seeds. Add a spoonful of ground almonds and blitz together – but not for long – leaving nice sizable chunks of the nuts and fruit. Tip into a large mixing bowl along with the rest of the whole pumpkin seeds.
In a pan melt the butter with the sugar and golden syrup, trying not to stir it too much and allowing it to melt together gradually.
Once melted mix in the oats and the fruit and nuts and spread the mixture out evenly in an oven tray then bake for 25 minutes.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over simmering water. When the flapjacks are baked, cut them into small rectangles and dip them as far as you dare into the melted chocolate.
Allow to chill for 20 minutes in the fridge and then serve.
I hope you enjoy these pumpkin-based treats! If you bake any of these recipes, please take a photo and tag me on instagram or twitter (the links to my pages should be on the right –>) – I’d love to see them!