Baking With Your Little Treasures
With the Christmas holiday looming I thought I would share my thoughts on home cooking with your children.
Children are like little sponges and what a good time to get them interested in cooking and more importantly learning some useful life skills. To them, just a fun activity but it goes so much deeper than that. Children learn using their senses, tasting, smelling, feeling, seeing, touching and listening. In the kitchen they will be using all of their senses. Even toddlers enjoy time in the kitchen with you even if it is only chopping up vegetables for dinner with a blunt knife. My children love activities that are real. What an achievement for them to tell Mummy or Daddy that they helped prepare dinner. If you can make cooking a positive experience they will take this good attitude towards food forward in life.
Cooking with young people doesn’t have to be about making cakes. I make soup with my little ones who then enjoy a bowlful for lunch. How healthy is that (just shining my halo)? If you have a fussy eater what a good way to encourage them to engage with food and eating. A win, win all round.
Who didn’t make chocolate rice crispy cakes and add chocolate eggs to them at Easter? Cornflakes when no rice crispies were available and even shredded wheats to get the real authentic nest look. (I was never a fan of the shredded wheat ones as they looked so much better than they tasted.) Just paint on your smile, have loads of soap and warm water at the ready for the end and be prepared for a kitchen wash down after. It is amazing how far a child can spread such a small amount of chocolate. I can clearly remember making the effort to bake cakes with my two year old 6 days before my daughter was born (no way I was going to fit it in after she was born! See first photo). It will be worth it though to see their happy little faces at the end (trust me!!).
For older children you can encourage them to read the recipes and to weigh out the ingredients. This helps them learn to follow basic instructions and working with numbers. It also teaches them about volume. Look how much 100g of flour is compared to 100g of sugar. There is so much to learn from baking. As adults we take all this for granted but to children it is like a science lesson but without them realising it.
As mentioned above chocolate rice crispy (rice pops) cakes are a good starter as it is mainly a melting, mixing exercise and spooning into bun (muffin) cases. There are loads of recipes on line so I’ll leave you to check them out. Then they can get as creative as you let them be with sprinkles, icing flowers and little sweets etc. You can buy tiny tubes of ready-made coloured icing for them to get really creative with. They also have to learn patience as the cakes have to set before they can be eaten (and wait for an appropriate time to eat them).
So a few rules to make the experience a successful one
- Keep it simple (and age specific)
- Make sure it is fun (and smile)
- Don’t rush in to help unless absolutely necessary (let them make the mess and learn from it).
- It helps them to know what they are going to achieve at the end as this will be their motivation to succeed.
- Loads of praise (Mummy and Daddy tasting the AMAZING end product!!! Good luck with that one??)
Baking with your young ones is a lovely way to spend quality time with them. These activities along with daily time spent with them, like reading them a bedtime story, will let them know they are loved and cared for. These little moments will build their confidence and create a lasting bond with you. They will make memories they can take into adult life and hopefully recreate with their children.
I am so grateful to my Mum and Grandma for setting me off on the road to baking. You may be steering your child on a journey to Michelin stardom. Who knows? Look where my journey has taken me?
I would love to hear about your experiences of cooking with your little ones.