Baking with young children is not for the faint of heart. It requires the utmost patience and the acceptance that the results may be less than… ideal. It is also just about the most fun thing to do in the kitchen. You get to teach your children something in a real and tangible way, something they can use straight away and will build on over the years. It is an opportunity to discover the joy of baking and create lasting memories.
What to Bake
When baking with young children you want to make the recipe as simple and child-friendly as possible. Aim for four to five steps and basic ingredients, cookies, cupcakes and slices are ideal. Check out the steps and ensure the steps are achievable for your child's age, mixing, pouring milk, and measuring flour are all things that will keep your little one feeling involved and important.
Yes, it is easier to get all the stuff ready before you introduce your little chef into the mix, but they must be aware of the set-up processes. So work together to get out all the ingredients, set up the measuring cups and spoons, mixing bowl and importantly aprons. Show them where everything is kept and explain what each piece of equipment actually does. I.e. This is the measure so we put the right amount of sugar and flour, this is the mixing spoon, and this is the pan for when it is in the oven. Let them do as much as they can, remember this is about involving your child in the experience, of course, maintain constant supervision (you don’t want a cup of salt instead of sugar in your cookies) but the more they can help the more they learn and the will gain more self-esteem.
Embrace the Chaos
Baking can get messy at the best of times, add a child and there is most definitely going to be plenty to clean up. You don’t want to take away from the joy of baking by not allowing them to try and explore, creating a mess is part of the fun. Encourage your little one to get amongst it, smell and taste and feel the dough, and sprinkle the flour on the bench. All of these little things give your child a sense of responsibility and help them understand the process, remember this will benefit you eventually when they can bake you treats all by themselves.
It's all fun and games until someone slices a finger. Teaching your children kitchen safety is so important. Basic rules like washing hands before you are elbows deep in batter, not using anything sharp un-assisted. Understanding the risks of hot ovens and pans is crucial, children are more likely to touch and see if they are not sure. The point needs to be repeated again and again whenever you are in the kitchen. Stay away from the stove!
The Best Part - Decoration
Having made it through the strict instructions of a recipe, it is now time to let your little cook get creative. Decorating is the time to let them make their own masterpiece. Coloured Icing, sprinkles, smarties…... Let their imaginations run wild. Give them as much praise for their creations as possible, and then it is time for the tasting.
Remember to take some photos of your little chef and of course the results. Set up your tea party or impress your guests with your offerings. Then eventually……embark on the clean-up!
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