I know I chatter rather a lot about baking with the kids and how much I enjoy it, but I really do! One thing that always surprises me when I do posts on Instagram or here about how much I love a good ole baking sesh with Edith is the amount of people who say things like “oh gawddd, you’re so brave!” Or “Arghh I can’t bake with my son/daughter, I’d love to but no. I hate the mess and it’s just chaos.”
I get it, the way a lot of people feel about baking with kids is pretty much how I feel about allowing them to get all feral with crafting supplies. Like glitter. Who the fuck wants to muck about with glitter, which is oﬃcially the herpes of the crafting world. Not. Me. So I totally get that it just isn’t some people’s bag and that is totally ﬁne – I really hate the pressure that we put on ourselves to be the ultimate “all rounder mum”, it’s just not realistic!
Despite the fact that I totally get that to not everyone’s bag, there are also a lot of messages from people who say they would love to bake but just can’t ﬁnd a way that doesn’t end in temper tantrums or a really crap experience, so I thought it would be handy to share my tips of how to bake and cook with children. It’s not as bad as you might think!
So, how to bake with kids and not want to poke you’re eyes out:
1.) Keep it simple.
Yeah, little jimmy doesn’t need to bake macaroons for his ﬁrst bake oﬀ. This isn’t being televised and you aren’t winning any awards other than possibly a tepid cup of tea with one of your creations on the side. Keep it super simple: cookies, cupcakes, brownies, blondies and simple Victoria sponges. Simple is your push word. You can get more fancy as you do more together. Reuben is an amazing little baker and if I asked him to join in with something really hard he would absolutely BOSS it, so let them grow into it a bit.
2.) Preparation is key.
Get everything you need out and on to you your surface. Bowls, utensils, all the ingredients. Got ingredients that need chopping, pre chop them and leave a few small bits to chop. If you’re makes a carrot cake, for example, pre grate the carrot and that is one less thing for your mini to get bored waiting for or potentially cut themselves doing.
3.) Get the right kit.
I’m not the biggest fan of child safe knives because I think that 1.) they don’t cut very well and 2.) they give children the impression that knives aren’t as dangerous as they are. That being said, I do think it’s a good idea for children to have a small knife that they won’t cut themselves with and to explain what the diﬀerence is between that and your proper knives. A head’s up, all my kids chop with proper knives but I always hold their hands and cover their other hands with mine. I’m not really into a&e trips to reattach ﬁngers. They also all have small knives so that they feel included and if they do pick up a knife to have a solo go, cubing butter and soft things is perfect. Aprons are another piece of kit, and ﬁnally I recommend a child sized wooden spoon, but don’t waste your hard earned dollar on bowls and child sized utensils.
4.) It’s all about the eggs.
Let them crack the god damn eggs peeps! 9/10 if my kids, right from Edith at 3 years old through to Roo at 7, see and egg on the counter they will ask to crack it. Kids love it! What I do is crack them into a separate container and there any shell can be taken out, egg by egg, not wasting the mix. FYI egg shell is the easiest way to get out egg shell, dip the egg half in and scoop out.
5.) Measuring is fun!
Well no, probably not for you, but it is fun and educational for them. The numbers, learning about balance. Fab! Allow your kids to measure stuﬀ and if they spill it everywhere just have a cloth ready to tidy up… and perhaps now is a good time to invest in a dog that cleans errthang!
6.) Don’t fear the oven or heat.
A tough one this for most people. Ok, yes, it’s dangerous and yes, it’s hot BUT kids need to learn that some things are dangerous and that heat is one of them! I always allow the kids, stood next to me and with my kids on theirs, to stir the saucepan. It keeps them involved in a part that is often when they get left to stand and watch, we leads to our play Mr Destructive rocking up.
7.) Keep it fun and don’t stress over the mess
So I’ve pointed out how to limit the mess (get organised!) but I also think it’s worth pointing out that you can’t get stressed over the mess. I know it’s gross and it takes ages to clean up but it really is only a bit of ﬂour or chocolate or whatever. It won’t stain. Close your kitchen door and have a packet of wipes to hand so that you can wash oﬀ those ﬁlthy paws before they get on anyone’s silky draws, and speaking of silky draws, don’t wear them. The reason Charlotte for SITC ended up in the cupboard crying is because she was daft enough to bake in vintage designer clothes. So please don’t do that. Try pjs or loungewear.
And that’s it really, just have fun with it and if you can, incorporate tidy up into the play time. Admittedly I try to avoid them doing the dishes with me as that just makes SO MUCH MORE mess, but I do think there is something to be said for giving them a wipe and getting them to clean the surface whilst the cakes bake.