Hands up if you’re attempting home schooling at the moment? It’s honestly not a position I thought I would find myself in, but I’ve been so impresssed by the resources available and the help offered by teacher friends, that I wanted to add what I could to the pot.
My daughter is 8 years old and loves to bake. Usually after I’ve spent a pretty full on week doing it, and it’s the last thing I want to do! However, she is pretty independant and loves – as all kids do – to do it ALL herself. There has been a few times I’ve caught her helping herself to baking ingredients with the intention of ‘just making myself a cake’.
So I thought I would share with you my top 6 tips for baking with your children.
1 . Give yourself time
This is not an activity you should rush and it will likely take longer than you think. But that’s ok, let them explore the ingredients, play with the textures and watch what happens as they beat an egg. It’s like magic! Trying to bake while keeping one eye on the clock is hard work, so just make sure you have plenty of time to allow for mixing, baking, cooling and – dare I say it – cleaning up. Which leads me to….
2 . Don’t mind the mess
This is the one I have to constantly remind myself about. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the tidiest baker in the world, but generally all of my ingredients stay in the bowl. This is not the case when Evie bakes. There will be flour everywhere from some over-enthusiastic mixing, a trail of cake mix along the counter, buttercream in her hair…. and it’s really not worth trying to clean up as you go along. Obviously mop up any big spills, but just wait until the end for the big clean up. Have kitchen roll or a damp cloth ready, and a bowl of water for handwashing.
3 . Be prepared
Read through your recipe and get out everything you need. Including a couple of extra spoons! (You can never have enough spoons if your kids are anything like mine.) Depending on the age of your children, you may want to weigh out all of the ingredients before you start. Or if they are a bit older let them weigh the ingredients out themselves. I would always recommend weighing into separate bowls rather than trying to add to your mix, just in case one big shake adds too much of one ingredient.
4 . Let them do it themselves
Another one I’m a bit guily of is taking over when it’s getting too messy or taking too long (refer back to points 1 and 2!). Let them do it themselves. Obviously if it involves heat or sharp implements adult supervision is required and, again depending on the age of your children, you know how much they can do on their own. Work out which tasks are going to be done by them and just leave them to it. Evie is quite capabale of making the whole mix or dough by herself, cracking eggs, placing trays in the oven, carefully melting chocolate on the stove, using the microwave, and even doing the washing up, if she’s in the right mood!
5. Start with the basics
In my experience the process of mixing and making is more important than the end result, so start with the basics. Vanilla cupcakes and glace icing, cookies or scones are all great starting points and I will be sharing some recipes over the next few months.
6 . Have a distraction ready
Patience and time awareness are not Evie’s strong points, so I try to have something ready for her to do while we’re waiting for the bakes are in the oven. Opening the oven before they are ready can be disastourous, so best to try and avoid it! Washing the dishes and cleaning up can sometimes be enough, or having pens and paper to design your cookies or cakes is a great idea. Don’t foget you may need more distractions while the bakes are cooling down….especially when the house is filled with that ‘fresh baked cake’ smell!
Baking is such a great skill to pick up as a child and generally leaves happy memories – even if it does all go wrong! I quite fondly remember using a rather flat 8″ sponge as a frisbee in the garden when baking with my sister.
Have you got any tips you would like to share? Or recipes you would love to try? Leave me a comment below. And good luck, Cakers!