An afternoon spent baking in the kitchen with your toddler or pre-schooler will give you the chance to bond and create warm memories! At the end of it, you'll both be deliciously rewarded for your efforts!
Whether your child is two or five, there's plenty of age-appropriate ways to involve him in the kitchen fun. But no matter what the age, introduce a few basic rules to ensure that you both get the most out of the experience:
- Only mummy / daddy can touch the stove, oven and kitchen knives
- If you can't reach something, ask for help - don't try and get it on your own
- Always ask before doing if you're not sure
- If you burn yourself, tell mummy / daddy straight away
As parents, you can make the kitchen safer:
- Turn pot handles inwards - don't leave them sticking out where tiny fingers can grab them
- Keep an eye on hot pots and burners. Do not leave them unattended.
- Make sure everyone practises good hygiene - wash hands throughly with soap and dry well
- Coil up loose electrical cords
- Supervise your child at all times
When preparing for a cooking project with your child, a good strategy is to read the recipe in advance and figure out how your child can help. Look for simeple recipes that can withstand a little inaccuracy - think cupcakes and muffins, not chiffon cakes. Quick breads such as banana bread or carrot cake are also very forgiving - it won't matter if you use three bananas or four, or if your child eats half the amount of nuts (please ensure that your child does not have any nut allergies) meant for the recipe.
MAKING BAKING FUN
Here are a few ideas for involving your toddler or pre-schooler - pick the ones that seem best suited to his level of development and interest.
MEASURING INGREDIENTS: Younger kids can help count or measure cups of ingredients such as flour or milk. Older children can be taught more precise measuring techniques, such as levelling a cup of flour or sugar.
MIXING INGREDIENTS: Children love mixing - measure out the ingredients, hand them a wooden spoon and leave them to it! Use as big a bowl as you can to avoid spills, and put the bowl on a folded tea towel to stop it from sliding around.
CRACKING EGGS: Older children can be taught to crack eggs, separate the yolks from the whites, beat eggs for omelettes and quiches, and more!
LEARNING ABOUT LIMITS: Ask your child to count to 10 (or 20, or 30) while doing the activity. At the end of the count, swap tasks and start the count again. It's a great way to teach your child about limits, and also ensures that he/she doesn't get stuck on one step in the recipe for too long.
Above all, have a sense of humour and more importantly, make it a fun experience! Things may get messy, especially when there are 'fun' ingredients like flour and eggs. Don't be obsessed with keeping your kitchen spotless, just clean up at the end. Older children can help with the clean-up too!
EASY VANILLA CUPCAKES
(makes 12 regular sized cupcakes)
200g unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 180C and line muffin pan with paper cases.
- Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs, mix well. Your mixture might separate at this point, but don't worry.
- Add milk, and then fold in flour. Mix until just combined.
- If using regular muffin pans, put about 2 tablespoons of batter into each case. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until cupcakes are golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of one comes out clear.
- If using mini muffin pans, use about one tablespoon per cupcake instead. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden.
- Decorate/ frost as desired.
EASY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
125g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
Beat butter and sugar together until smooth. Frosting should be stiff enough to hold its shape. This frosting can be flavoured or coloured -- add a half cup of strawberry jam for strawberry cream frosting or a half cup of peanut butter for peanut buttercream frosting.
YUMMY CHOCOLATE GANACHE
150ml whipping cream
225g semi-sweet chocolate, grated
Heat cream until scalding (but do not let it come to a boil), and pour over grated chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.