Baking with toddlers seems like a task set only for the insane. The mess! The chaos!
But actually, baking is such a great learning experience for our wee tots, and it often (although not always) less disastrous that it seems in our heads.
This afternoon Hunter announced that he wanted to bake a chocolate cake. He LOVES cooking at the play kitchen at Playcentre and kindy (and other people’s houses who have fun toys like play kitchens), and enjoys baking time at Playcentre (which often turns into eating time), so I thought we’d embrace the mess and just go with it.
There wasn’t as much mess as I expected, if I’m being honest. Nothing a quick table wipe couldn’t fix! Plus, I now had chocolate cake waiting to be my reward for house cleaning, so….
I’ll link the recipe we used below, but Hunter (2y, 2m) was actually able to do a lot of it himself – or with minimal assistance from me.
What Hunter was able to do:
– Get out the baking equipment he needed (and some he didn’t, but best to be prepared for any eventuality, right?)
– Add ingredients via a pre-filled measuring cup or spoon
– Mix with a whisk, spoon AND electric beaters (just to be sure we covered all our bases)
– Mix the coffee, oil and choc chips in the saucepan on the stove (obvs with lots of help and supervision to avoid burns or setting house – or self – on fire)
– Break eggs into a bowl
– Pull out most of the egg shell that he dropped in
– Pour ingredients from one bowl to another (with help)
– Lick the beaters
– Pretend to start washing the dirty baking equipment afterwards but actually just get self all wet
What I did:
– Greased and lined cake tin
– Guided acceptable fullness of ingredients in measuring devices
– Anything to do with the oven
– Cleaned dirty baking equipment
– Cleaned dirty baking child
– Bought ice cream to go with cake
– Finished coffee I brewed to add in to cake… Oh crap, no I didn’t, it’s still sitting there on the bench
Hunter had an absolute ball, and seeing how proud he was of himself for baking was so worth the mess. I figure as well that if I can teach my boys to make chocolate baked goods, my future daughter-in-laws will think I’m the best ever and reward me with loads of wine and grandchildren.
Here’s what toddlers & children learn through baking (i.e. why we should let them do it!):
– Measuring (maths/science)
– Counting (maths)
– Timing (maths)
– Changing of raw to cooked (science)
– How to follow instructions (life skills, early reading/writing, communication)
– Culinary vocabulary (reading/writing/communication)
– Ingredients + cooking skills (health, domestic skills, basic survival)
– Patience (mums learn this too – win/win!)
We counted how many cups of each ingredient we put in, talked about what we were doing for each step (mixing, pouring, beating), and I read out most of the instructions to him as we went along. Ideally in future I’d have a printed recipe or read from a cookbook, as it was a struggle keeping cake batter off my phone! There are loads of great kid-friendly recipes and recipe books out there, so next time I might try with those and see how much further he can go independently.
How to make it easier on yourself
– Have everything out and ready to go
– Ensure you have plenty of bench space
– Wear old clothes yourself and have paper towels or damp cloths ready and waiting
– Read through the whole recipe start to finish if it’s a new one, to make sure you know all the components
– Start simple, leave the croquembouche for next time
– Remind yourself mess is temporary
– Remind yourself there is cake coming
So there you have it! What baking/cooking things are your kids interested in? What tips do you have for those about to attempt toddler MasterChef? I’m always open for ideas!
Until next time,
PS. I initially titled this “BARKING with Toddlers” by accident… but it has a ring to it, so keep an eye out in the future for that post! 😉
Chocolate Mud Cake – Adapted from here
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup milk
½ cup oil
250g dark choc chips
1 cup hot strong coffee, can be strong instant – I halved the amount of coffee because my kids were going to eat it and they’re crazy enough. You could also substitute with hot chocolate
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
½ cup cocoa
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a cake tin with oil or butter, and line with non-stick baking paper.
2. Mix lemon juice with milk and leave for 5 min to become buttermilk/soured milk.
3. Combine oil, chocolate chips and coffee in a saucepan and heat gently. Stir often, until chocolate is melted and the mixture smooth. Set aside to cool.
4. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and cocoa.
5. Mix the eggs and buttermilk mix into the cooled chocolate mixture, combine thoroughly (Hunter mixed with 3 different instruments), and then whisk into the dry ingredients.
6. Pour into your cake tin and bake for 1 hour. When tested, fudgy crumbs will stick to a skewer. Cool for 15 minutes in the tin, then turn out and cool further on a wire rack. When cold, ice with chocolate icing, ganache, cream and strawberries or whatever else takes your fancy. Serve with cream or ice cream.