Thanks very much to Pillsbury for sponsoring this post and for providing Pillsbury products for me to have some fun with.
A while ago I was talking to another mom about baking cookies with the kids, and she said something to the effect of, “I would rather bake my own fingers than bake with children.” Her point: that baking with kids is frustrating, aggravating, and the end result is often suspiciously crunchy, probably owing to wayward eggshell bits.
I can’t argue with that last part, but I think the first two are all about perspective. If you expect baking with small children to go completely smoothly and quickly and that you’ll end up with State Fair-worthy goods at the end, you’re probably going to end up disappointed and frustrated. But if you look at making that cake, bread or pie as a process that can take as long as it needs to – and let go of the idea of a perfect end result – it can be a lot of fun.
Here are my five “rules” for happy baking with younguns:
1. Choose simple recipes 1 of 5Quick breads are forgiving and easy to make, and since my pantry is filled with applesauce from my last canning adventure, I chose an applesauce bread recipe last time I baked with the littles.
2. Assemble your ingredients before you start. 2 of 5Don't be afraid to make substitutions if you don't have something on hand - the internet abounds with suggestions. In this case, we eliminated the nuts entirely (kids don't like 'em, husband's allergic) and since I just ran out of nutmeg, we substituted a little allspice and ginger. The Cook's Thesaurus is a great resource for figuring out what to use when you're out of _____.
3. Give everyone a job. 3 of 5If you have too many helpers and not enough tasks to hand out, just make up a job. Your two-year-old will never know that the flour concoction she faithfully stirred for an hour didn't actually make it into the end result. And my daughter is quite happy to help by "doing the dishes."
4. Have kids crack eggs into a separate bowl. 4 of 5My mother-in-law tipped me off to this simple way to keep shells out of the food, since wayward bits can usually be fished out. And if there's a huge shell breakdown and the eggs have to be tossed, at least you haven't contaminated the whole thing.
5. Let them lick the spoon. 5 of 5Okay, I know that eating raw eggs carries a (small) health risk, but I've never been able to deny my kids - or myself! - the slightly naughty pleasure of tasting the oh-so-yummy batter they've just created. Besides, there are raw eggs in homemade Caesar dressing, French Silk pie and plenty of other foods my family eats regularly. Considering I've never gotten sick during a lifetime of bowl-licking, I feel pretty safe letting my kids get a taste, especially when we use high-quality eggs from a producer with a good track record. For nervous batter-lovers, Eggland's Best offers a method for rendering raw eggs safer on their website.
Do you bake with your kids? And do you let them lick the batter?