Some of the foods that your children enjoy most are undoubtedly baked goods. Cookies, cakes, pies and breads are delicious and satisfying, and they are among the most requested "teach me how to!" foods. Baking, though, at it's most basic, is chemistry - and the reality is that it's more difficult than it first appears. Here are some tips to help you introduce your child to the wonder of baked goods.
Prepare The Area - AND The Cook! - Baking most often involves two of the messiest foods with which we cook - flour and eggs. Put away any unnecessary items that may be on your counter tops. Offer your child and apron - while it's not necessary, most kids love to wear an apron as it makes them feel important and official. Help your child to tie back any long hair and to wash her hands. Have a handy supply of paper towels, dish cloths, an empty dishwasher and a broom.
Pick An Easy Recipe - No one wants to start off with their first baking experience as a failure, and choosing a recipe that's too difficult will ensure that. My favorite recipe to begin a baking lesson for my kids actually doesn't require baking - we always begin with No Bake Peanut butter Oatmeal cookies. (For my peanut allergic kid, we swapped out soy butter.) Choose a cake mix in your child's favorite flavor, or maybe even slice and bake for the very young.
Assemble The Ingredients - The worst feeling in the entire world is to be midway through a recipe and realize you don't have enough sugar. The big cooking school follow the Mise en place philosophy - literally, everything in it's place, typically in bowls in front of the chef. This way, you know what you have, and you don't waste time looking for the cinnamon or salt.
Teach The "Clean Up As You Go" Rule - My own dad used to harp on this, and it made me completely crazy. As an adult, though, I can now see the wisdom behind cleaning as you go. It takes very little time, especially if you keep your dishwasher open or your sink full of warm soapy water. Put away the ingredients as you use them. When you put your treats into the oven, the kitchen work is virtually done, and all that's left is to enjoy the fruits of your labors!
Baking with your kids takes time and patience, but the rewards are absolutely worth it. What is your favorite thing to bake with your child?