When my kids ask ‘Mummy can we bake a cake?’ my first reaction is ‘Really? Do you REALLY want to bake?’ and their answer is always ‘Yes’. My eldest doesn’t even like cake!
They don’t really want to bake – they just want to randomly mix various ingredients (they really don’t care what) together while eating unlimited chocolate chips.
Other complications while baking with little ones are:
- The electric mixer freaks them out.
- They want to stir and frequently change their stirring implements.
- All of these stirring implements will at some point be in their mouths and then back in the bowl again and you will just have to pray that the 375 degrees in the oven will kill any germs.
- During said mixing, ingredients will fly out of the bowl splattering the kitchen with varying degrees of viscosity.
- If you turn your back on a small child and an egg for even a second you just know what is going to happen – and no child wants to stand there patiently while grumpy Mummy picks egg shell out of the recipe – although the dog always seems happy when an egg lands on the floor.
- In fact any random object/ingredient within reaching distance is for sure going to end up in that mixing bowl.
I’ve tried to suggest we make other recipes with them but they refuse to partake in anything but ‘cake’ or ‘cookies’. And by cake they mean cupcakes or banana bread and cookies can only be chocolate chip (most of which will be consumed before they make it into the cookie batter.)
Before I let the madness begin I measure out all the ingredients in plastic containers. Then they get to mix and add in what ever order they desire.
To find recipes that will truly tolerate this kind of treatment takes a little bit of research and experimentation. I always do a bit of final mixing – but I do allow them to portion out the cookie dough & scoop batter into tins etc. I find this hard as personally I would prefer to see all the cookies the same size (at least the same shape!) and the cupcakes all the same height.
A baking party – baking Chocolate Layer Cake together.
When I can I like to amend recipes to add some whole wheat flour into the mix. If the kids have to eat cake and cookies – let there be some whole wheat flour in there! And because whole wheat flour is much more absorbent than plain flour – we are able to add more bananas to our banana bread.
Here are two recipes I have found to be successful. Just measure out the ingredients and let your little ones go to town.
Tip: when our banana’s go a bit brown and the kids don’t want to eat them we put them in the freezer until we have enough to make banana bread. This recipe also freezes really well. I cut the loaves in half and freeze each portion – defrosting as we want them.
Makes: 2 loaves
Oven temp: 350F
8 mashed bananas – we use defrosted frozen ones.
½ cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups of whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
Chocolate Cupcakes / Layer Cake or Slab Cake
Tip: once you eat this you might never use another cupcake recipe again.
Original Recipe: This is the original recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook Pg 168 ‘ One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes’
Makes: 24+ cupcakes or 2 x 8″ layer cakes or 1 x 13″x9″ slab
Oven temp: 350F
Time: 20-25 mins for cupcakes 45 mins for layer cake/slab.
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups cocoa powder
2 ½ cups of sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
2 large whole eggs, plus 1 large yolk
1 ¼ cups of milk
½ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ warm water
And if you don’t like baking but your kids are still asking – here are some ideas…
- a pre-made cake and let your little ones ice it. Here is a cake (store brought) the girls iced themselves for Daddy’s Birthday. Yes – the icing is as thick as it looked. Daddy was a good sport and ate a whole slice!!
- store bought cookie dough can provide low effort entertainment – get the play dough tools out (washed of course) and let the kids make their own creations for the oven.
- a cheap toy mixer will give you hours of fun & allow your kids to make their own ‘recipes’.
- don’t want the kids to cook with you? Give them a range of random ingredients (1 tablespoon each is enough) and let them mix to their hearts content alongside you.
- cut slabs of sponge cake into different shapes (like building blocks) and using icing as glue let your little ones construct buildings and vessels.
The one thing I am learning with the little ones is that simpler is better, they don’t really care if the cake rises evenly or tastes of light buttery goodness, they just want to mix and add ingredients (at their own will.) Leave the serious baking for your own time – when you have time to whisk the butter into fluffy creamy clouds and not worry that when you turn to reach for a spoon some little helping hand will empty an entire bottle of vanilla flavoring into Granny’s birthday cake.
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