World Baking Day: 5 tips for baking with kids (and staying sane!)
It can be daunting to get kids involved in the kitchen. The potential for mess – and arguments – is large. But if you plan ahead and resolve to be more relaxed about the whole thing, the potential for happy kids – and smug parents – is also fairly big. Here are my tips for staying sane when baking with little people!
1. Choose a simple recipe together
Don’t even think about looking on Pinterest as they will inevitably choose an elaborate, 3 tier Frozen/Spiderman (delete as appropriate) cake that would bring a professional out in a cold sweat and require a 3 figure spend at Lakeland. Instead, select from an old Be-Ro book or a Mary Berry classic and guide them towards things like fairy cakes, traybakes, gingerbread men or brownies. (Ideally something that you have the ingredients in beforehand – or else a short trip to the shops will be required.)
2. Prepare it all first
Whilst they watch TV or similar, make like a home economist and prepare (weigh, melt, grate – whatever) everything into little bowls. Only call them in when everything is ready. Oven heated, stools or chair positioned etc. It makes life so much easier and they (and you) will feel like you are presenting a TV show. Move over Nigella!
3. Give them each specific jobs
If baking with two or more kids, then give them each their own roles. Attach great importance to each one to avoid rows about who does what and give a sense of pride. Place whatever they need right in front of them and let them get on with it.
4. Don’t be a control freak
Yes, it will get messy. Your kitchen will feel the brunt of their creativity. But they are learning, so think of the bigger picture. You could even get them involved in washing up or stacking the dishwasher afterwards. And, no, the cakes will not be perfect, batter dollops will miss the tin and buns will inevitably be lopsided, but that’s OK too. Most things taste good even if they look atrocious!
5. Make a big deal about it eating together
Lay out a picnic rug and prepare a pot of tea (do this inside if the weather is rubbish). Invite friends or grandparents to come over (or just get some teddies off the bed). The look on their faces as they tuck in, proud of the fact that they actually made these goodies – will make it all worthwhile… and at the end of the day even if the cakes taste awful, the kitchen is a tip, and everyone bickered throughout – you made something more important than cake, and that’s memories.