Top Tips for Easy, Stress Free Baking.
As a parent, trying to fill school holidays with activities for your little ones can be difficult. I know I have two school aged children of my own. Running a home based business during the school holidays is even more of a challenge, always striving to get the balance right between work and family commitments. If you’ve ever thought about filling some of that holiday time with a baking activity, you may have had some reservations. Even as a baker it doesn’t come easy to me to get my kids involved in baking. There are so many obstacles.
Time – It always take longer than you expected, even a box mix takes longer than the stated packet time.
Ingredients – Nothing can be made with the 2g of flour and outdated mixed spice you have in your store cupboard.
Mess – Kids + baking = Mess…FACT!… that you’ll probably have to clean up….Alone!
If you’ve more than one child there’s also the arguments to look forward to, who’s turn it is to crack the eggs or stir the mix, you get the general picture.
If you can identify with any, or maybe all of the above, I have some top tips to help you.
- Choose the right recipe – You want quick, easy, with minimal ingredients. That way if you don’t already have the ingredients in your store cupboard you can pick them up from any local shop. Perhaps have 2 or 3 recipes up your sleeve and ask your child which they’d prefer to make to get them involved in the decision making process and then the shopping experience. Recipe ideas include macaroons, (not to be confused with macarons, which are not quick….or easy.), meringues or super simple mug cake recipes (technically not baking, but needs must and washing up will be minimal.)
- Fake it until you make it – If you really don’t want to go the from scratch baking route, then fake it. Controversial for me to say as a baker, but ‘buy a box mix’. These are great for really young wannabe bakers. Perfect for when patience, yours and theirs, is limited. You can still introduce some really key baking concepts when using a box mix, and for most, minimal equipment is required.
- Ingredient Substitutions – Baking is a series of specific chemical reactions, and each ingredient plays a part in ensuring the reaction occurs as it should, so that the final product is as it should be. I would suggest avoiding ingredient substitutions unless you are familiar with a recipe, particularly those which are crucial to the final structure of the product, e.g. flour/eggs/fat/sugar. More information on the importance of each ingredient can be found here.
- Task allocation – If you have more than one child that you will be baking with allocate each child their specific tasks before you begin. This way World War III can be prevented…hopefully, and each child knows what they are doing and when they are doing it. Write their name next to each step they are responsible for on the recipe.
- Clean up as you go – Identify points in the recipe where you can clean up and have your child help you. E.g. when an item may be cooling, or setting in the fridge. Reuse any equipment you can so you’re not making more washing up for yourself unnecessarily. This works well for bowls and spoons that have been used to measure dry ingredients. Definitely reuse these.
- Have fun – Putting all the possible obstacles previously mentioned aside, baking should be fun. It’s not weather dependent, it’s economical and it teaches your child some great life skills. Even if you’re just looking to improve your own baking skills, the above tips can help. If you’d like to share your experiences of baking with your child, good or bad, please feel free to comment below or over on my facebook page. Happy Baking!