Chocolate, children & chilling out on a Saturday

The finished result!

This recipe for Chocolate Star Bread is from an old copy of UK Good Housekeeping and works really well. Myself, my daughter Scarlet and her good friend Abbie spent a couple of hours putting it together. You will need: plain flour; dried active yeast; caster sugar; full-fat plain yoghurt; butter; egg; vegetable oil for greasing; Nutella; milk; hazelnuts.

Mix 2tsp of yeast, 75g of flour and 100ml warm water in a bowl, cover with cling-film and leave to bubble up for 15 mins. Send children out to play in the pool.

Add 75g yoghurt, 75g melted and cooled butter, 50g caster sugar, one beaten egg and one teaspoon of salt. Dry off your children and use them to knead the dough for ten minutes until it is springy, using a little flour if necessary. Place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with clingfilm. Send children back out to the pool for about an hour. Or until the dough has doubled in size and the kids have got bored with the pool floaties.

Gently warm 200g of Nutella in a bain maree (bowl over a a larger bowl of hot water) to loosen it up. Divide the dough into four and roll into four dinner plate sized circles. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and lay one circle on the tray. Spread a quarter of the chocolate over the dough. Place a second dough circle on top and spread with another quarter of the chocolate. Repeat with the remaining circles but leaving the fourth one plain. The girls took it in turns to spread/roll. Place a dinner plate on top of the dough pile and trim to a perfect circle.

Then, place a glass in the centre of the dough pile and press out a circular indentation without breaking the dough. Leaving this central circle intact, cut the outer dough into quarters to create four “petals”. Cut each petal into quarters to create 16 petals.

Lift a petal and gently twist three times. Twist the adjacent petal three times in the opposite direction, and continue twisting in alternate directions until you have twisted all sixteen petals. The girls were surprisingly good at this. Shoo the children into the lounge room and cover the tray with clingfilm. Leave the dough to rise for 45 minutes, or until the kids have finished two games of Snakes & Ladders and are begging to be allowed on Minecraft.

Preheat the oven to 180, brush the dough with milk and sprinkle the centre with hazelnuts (checking with your child’s playfriend for nut allergies first, obviously). Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden. The girls enjoyed sitting on the floor and gazing at the oven “Bake Off” style at this point.

Boil the kettle, make a cup of tea, put your feet up and let the kids go crazy with the i-pad. Your job as entertainer for the afternoon in done. Don’t forget to send the playfriend home with a few petals to share with her family – it makes you look like parent of the year and will pretty much guarantee a return invitation, leaving you with a child-free/one child-down Saturday to look forward to.

Many thanks to my friend Megan for lending me her delightful daughter Abbie for this shoot. She’s definitely on the “happy-to-have-over-anytime” friend list!








Drizzly dragon boating

Bed would have been by far the best place to be at 7am. This cold, drab winter continues to drag ever onwards, but today I had places to go. For this morning was the first training session of my fabulous dragon boating team, the Sai Kung Blazing Paddles. I know, many teams have been tirelessly hitting the water all winter, but we know our limitations and do tend to have a break over the colder months. However, with a big race event looming in just over a month, it was time to hit the waves and get paddling. We are an all-female team (with good reason, the last time we let the men in the boat they sank it, more about that another time), we train twice a week, we love a good end-of-season party and now and again we bring home the odd piece of silverware (one of which is currently proudly displayed in my downstairs loo). Anyway, the session went well despite the drizzle and the cold, and we’ll be back out on the Inner Port Shelter on Thursday night. More of our daring exploits as this blog evolves over the coming months… I know, the anticipation is killing you. In the meantime, if you are fit, fun, female, live in the Sai Kung area of Hong Kong and would like a go in the boat, look us up on our Blazing Paddles Facebook page.