Baking with kids is one of the most rewarding and worthwhile activities families can engage in – particularly on those oh-too-frequent bad weather days. But what if engaging the little cherubs in some weighing, measuring and mixing ends up in a sticky, floury mess with little to show for your efforts?
With the summer holidays upon us, we’ve got you covered for rainy-day baking activities with the small folk – and it doesn’t always have to end up in a deep kitchen clean.
While it can be messy, inaccurate and a little bit stressful for those strait-laced bakers among us, baking with children has many benefits. Talk about the process and you’re increasing their vocabulary and speaking skills; use a recipe and there’s a reading lesson right there; discuss and encourage weighing and measuring and their skillset is expanded; allow them to mix, pinch and sieve and their fine motor skills are being developed.
Then there’s the more emotive benefits of spending time together and building bonds and relationships – never to be played down, it’s a crucial part of parenting. And then there’s the end result – something delicious to eat together and talk about the process over.
While the very thought of combining small children with simmering pans, hot ovens and scalding cake pans might send the bravest bakers running for the hills, there are loads of different ways to introduce baking into your family time without risking life and limb.
• You bake, they decorate – try coaxing them away from the hot parts by lining up a tantalising array of colours, decorations and sprinkles for them to go to town with, once the hot, bakey part is out of the way. Whip up a batch of delicious biscuits or cupcakes and let them loose on the fun part.
• Tackle a no-bake recipe – banish the hot stuff and potential scalds to the naughty step and crack on with some crispy cakes, or a fridge tray bake that involves nothing more than melting some chocolate and butter with lots of mixing and stickiness. There’ll be a delicious end-result with none of the danger in the run up.
• Get them involved in the weighing and measuring – allow them to pull up the chair, press the on button for the scales and chuck all the ingredients into the bowl (in a measured and precise manner, obvs). There will be maths and science learning aplenty. Add that to the pleasure of cleaning up the flour explosion and the icing sugar coverage and you’ve got some life skills in there too. Get them to stand aside while you do the hot bit then return to point one for the joy of decoration.
• Bust out the cake pops – all the fun and deliciousness of cake, but without the baking. You’ll obviously need some leftover cake (is there ever such a thing?!) or (shhhh) nip out to buy a ready-made simple cake, blitz it and mix it up with buttercream or candy melts. Shape it, whack it on a stick, dip it in some melted chocolate and chosen sprinkles and Bob’s your Uncle’s Monkey’s sister’s cat.
And these are just the tip of the baking iceberg when it comes to baking with kids – there are so many gorgeous and simple recipes out there. Or why not have a go at making your own up?
What’s your favourite way to bake with the kids? Share in the comments below – we’d love to know!