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December 31st, 2012

On a rainy Saturday there’s nothing better than getting cosy in the kitchen and baking with your children. Whether it’s a simple pizza for lunch or a delicious sweet treat for pudding, children love the mixing, measuring, cutting, kneading, and decorating that are a part of baking. Children are much more likely to eat something they’ve made themselves so it’s a great way to introduce new flavours, and they’ll also learn skills like counting and weighing without even realising it. Follow these ten top tips for making baking fun:

  1. Make a ritual out of preparation. Getting ready to bake can be a lot of fun as well as teaching your child good hygiene. Washing their hands, putting on an apron, and tying back long hair or even donning a chef’s hat can all become part of the ritual of baking.
  2. Use child safe equipment. Check your cooking utensils to make sure they’re safe for child sized hands. Blunt pallet knives, plastic cutlery, wooden spoons, rubber cake tins, and plastic measuring cups are all ideal. Look out for colourful cookie cutters and paper cake cases that will appeal to children.
  3. Set the ground rules. It goes without saying that young children should be supervised in the kitchen as there are plenty of dangerous temptations to discover. Make sure they understand that the oven and hob are hot and can hurt them, and are therefore out of bounds to children.
  4. It’s all in the decoration. For young children baking often means assembling and decorating rather than actual cooking. Get imaginative with your decorations and use different coloured icing, smarties or raisins for eyes, liquorice laces for hair, and marshmallows for animal features.
  5. Prepare in advance. Younger children may not have the patience to follow an entire recipe, so you might want to prepare a little in advance. Make pastry for jam tarts and store it in the fridge ready for your child to roll, cut out, and fill with sticky sweet jam before you put it in the oven.
  6. Bake savoury as well as sweet. Baking often refers to cakes and cookies but don’t forget you can include savoury treats too. Cheese and ham muffins, carrot and squash cookies, and vegetable pizza pittas are all delicious antidotes to a sweet tooth.
  7. Look for non-cook recipes. Older children will love something they can make entirely themselves, and this means dishes that don’t need cooking. A fruit trifle is an ideal choice as the children can create the layers without using the oven or hob.
  8. Don’t expect perfection. You might be imagining beautifully iced cup cakes but your child will have more fun if you give them free reign with the decorations. If you want something you can serve up to guests later, bake something like a fridge cake that always looks good.
  9. Let them do the washing up. You might be keen to throw everything in the dishwasher and get the kitchen clean, but being up to their elbows in warm soapy water can be great fun for your child. It also teaches them that the job doesn’t end when the cakes go into the oven.
  10. Eat what you have baked. Make an occasion of eating what your child has cooked and serve it on a special plate with drinks. Eat with your child and show how much you enjoy their cooking. If you’re baking for a special occasion, make a little extra that your child can enjoy straight away.
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