For me, Halloween is all about food and family, and it’s an occasion that centres around the kids. We generally didn’t mark the occasion in our house the way we do now, but since having our two boys, Kasper and Axel, it has become quite an event.
This year, as we have done for the past few years, we will be gathering together with some friends. We’ve all agreed to take the kids trick-or-treating along our street and, as any parent will appreciate, the costume and decoration planning has already begun. One of our neighbours always manages to do an incredible job of turning her garden into some kind of Halloween haven. She fills it with spooky outdoor decorations and lots of fun games for the kids. Apple-dunking is one that always generates lots of laughs, as does hanging mini homemade doughnuts on a line and challenging the youngsters to eat them without using their hands. Without fail, there’s always plenty of mess created on Halloween night. It’s certainly one of those dates that brings out the child in all of us.
Our younger boy, Axel, wasn’t quite as excited as his elder brother last year and was actually a little scared of all of the strange costumes and decorations. He’s a little older now, though, so we’re expecting him to want to join in all the fun with his brother and their friends. Certainly Kasper and his little friends are already excited about it. I’m not sure what they find more thrilling – the dressing up in fun, silly costumes or being allowed to stay up a little later than usual and enjoy treats on a school night.
As much as dressing up is incredibly exciting for the kids, I also like to think of Halloween as a great chance to bring them into the kitchen and get them cooking and baking. You can come up with so many different ideas, and it’s a fantastic time to get kids excited about cooking, making some scary treats and having fun together. You can get them in the mood with Halloween-themed cupcakes or biscuits, slime soups or jellies and even carving and cooking pumpkins. Getting them involved and into the kitchen is also a great way to get some helping hands with preparing food for friends or other visiting guisers.
The baking bug has hit since the recent series of BBC 2’s Great British Bake Off, and you can find lots of different children’s baking sets for all different occasions, including Halloween.
If you want to keep your treats a little healthier, there are also plenty of seasonal recipes that can get the kids cooking with and eating vegetables without even realising. Try making green vegetable soups and calling it witch’s brew, or baking carrot, squash and pumpkin breads and cakes and decorating them with Halloween-themed icing. It’s a great time to let your imagination flow.
Another of my favourite Halloween recipes is pumpkin soup served in carved-out pumpkin shells. It’s a perfect warmer for adults and children alike, and is a really easy dish to enjoy after an evening out trick-or-treating in the crisp, cold autumn air.
When it comes to keeping the adults happy on Halloween, there’s also a huge number of other seasonal recipes you can try that are simple, tasty and warming. As the nights begin to draw in, you can make the most of your golden pumpkin flesh after carving, with a host of recipes like pies, risottos, soups and even curries.
zest of 1 orange
250g plain flour
¾ tsp baking powder
2 tsp poppy seeds
300g icing sugar
250g Philadelphia cheese
zest of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Whisk the butter and sugar together in a bowl until white, light and fluffy, then add in the orange zest. Crack the eggs into another bowl and then add slowly to the mixture, whisking as you go (if the mixture starts to split mix in some flour until you achieve a smooth consistency).
Then add the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds and 25ml of milk and mix together.
Spoon the mixture into cake cases and place on a cupcake baking tray. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden, then remove and leave to cool.
To make the icing, beat together the butter and icing sugar until smooth. Then add the Philadelphia cheese and the zest of one orange and combine. Cover the top of each cupcake with icing and garnish with some ghoulish sweeties.
Mini jam doughnuts
250g plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
25g salted butter
2 egg yolks
½ tsp salt
100ml lukewarm milk
1 sachet yeast (7g)
Dissolve the yeast in the milk, then gently add the egg yolks.
In another bowl, rub the butter into the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt). Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and combine until they form a sticky dough.
Place the mixture in an oiled bowl and then cover with a wet cloth. Leave the bowl in a warm area and let the mixture rise until it doubles in size.
Remove the dough mixture from the bowl and knock it back on to the table. Cut the dough into six portions, then rest it on the table and shape into doughnut balls.
Place the doughnuts on a baking tray and leave to prove for a little while longer.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a fryer. Once hot, drop each doughnut into the fryer and cook until they turn golden .
Remove the doughnuts from the oil and place on a paper towel to absorb the excess fat.
Place some strawberry jam in a piping bag and insert the nozzle into each doughnut, squeezing jam into the centre.Finally, dust the doughnuts with sugar and serve.