Round the troops and flour the worktops, it’s time for a family bake off!
With our favourite baking show about to start again, you might be feeling like you want to get your cook on? Us, too! And, if you have little ones who are equally as obsessed with those floral jackets and baking constructive criticism, why not get the whole family involved in the kitchen?
While the initial thought of letting children loose in your kitchen might leave you feeling a little woozy, with the right preparation (and equipment!) it doesn’t have to be a headache! We all remember watching grandma do wonderful things with a whisk back when you could barely reach the worktop, don’t we? And, not forgetting the best part – having a sneaky taste of whatever sugar-filled treat she was concocting! Cooking is a fun way to engage with children as well as teaching them all about food hygiene, taking instructions and cleaning up!
Read on for our top tips for cooking with children, and learn tricks to help make baking at home run as smoothly as possible!
On the topic of stray ingredients, our first top tip is sensible clothing. It’s probably wise to leave your favourite outfit in the safe confinements of your wardrobe! And if you’ve decided to have an impromptu baking bonanza and are reluctant to run the risk of staining your best shirt, a good apron is a must-have. We’re not saying you’ll leave the kitchen stain-free but it’s better to invest in some sort of damage limitation for both you and the children!
They say patience is a virtue, and never has a phrase been truer if you’re thinking of heading to the kitchen armed with a team of little ones! The key to cooking with children is organisation, isn’t it? We recommend dedicating a whole morning or afternoon to whipping up your delights because, as with live television, you never know what’s going to happen! It’s also a good idea to make sure the little ones have been fed and watered, as tantrum mid-piping is music to nobody’s ears! Yes, they might have turned the oven to the wrong temperature, and yes your trousers may have a new flour-al design, but it’s all in the name of fun, isn’t it? So it’s best to grin and bear it!
CLEAN AS YOU GO
When you step into the kitchen for a day of mixing and sifting, you have to be prepared for some mess. That’s all part of the fun, right? Slightly obsessive cleaning habits should be left in the hallway – it’s only natural for things to get a bit chaotic and hands-on! The key to cooking with children is to try and clean as you go, and the more hands on deck, the better. Be fair when assigning those cleaning tasks and ensure you all muck in, so there aren’t any tantrums!
The step-by-step process of a recipe can be useful for helping children learn to follow instructions. If they’re old enough to read, why not let them take charge of reading the recipe to you? If they’re a little younger, you can show them any pictures to help them visualise their soon-to-be culinary wonders! As well as following instructions, weighing out ingredients and distributing the mixture into pie tins, cupcake cases and the likes is a great way of helping children to understand the science and mathematical input behind a recipe!
Cooking is great for introducing children to new ingredients and helping them learn about food safety with raw ingredients. Let them taste any unfamiliar ingredients to broaden their palate with a clean spoon and, when the masterpiece is finally in the oven, any remnants of the mixture can be eaten, this time with fingers! (Surely the best part of baking!)
Awareness of food hygiene is always important when cooking, so the earlier they learn, the better! Encourage your children to wash their hands before and after baking, and again if they’ve handled any raw ingredients. It’s also a good idea to tie back long hair and have some blue plasters are on hand in case of any little accidents!