To me, there is no greater joy than sharing my love of baking with my girls, and they are great helpers! It is something we love to do together. However, I have to switch gears when I bake with kids. I was a professional pastry chef, so I am highly efficient in the kitchen and can multi-task very easily. It was a little difficult for me to switch to “teaching” mode. I had a lot of student helpers at my job at a local university, but they were adults. It is a little different teaching a 3 or 4 year old. Patience when working in the kitchen with your children is an absolute must! As parents, we are the first teachers that our children have. I take this job very seriously and try to remember to teach my kids little things every day. Imparting my love of and knowledge of baking to my kids is just one of those things.
Here are some things that I have learned from my experiences in my own kitchen with my kids:
- Don’t choose a day that you have a gazillion cookies for a bake sale or birthday party to make to teach your children. As a mom, it’s hard enough to get those kinds of things done on your own sometimes!
- I am a perfectionist when it comes to my baking. I have learned to let that go when my kids are helping me. It is just food after all!
- Be patient
- Give them tasks that they are able to do
- Have fun
- Expect a mess on hands, counters, etc.
Some simple steps to baking with kids:
- Decide what to make. Cookies or muffins are always a good choice. My kids LOVE to scoop both of these things!
- Read through the recipe completely. This is always a good idea! There is nothing worse than mixing a dough for a cookie and then realizing that it needs to be chilled overnight or that you don’t have one of the ingredients. It is especially frustrating when you have a very disappointed 4 year old who wants cookies!
- Wash hands. Often.
- Assign Tasks. Divide the tasks if you have more than one child. Make sure that the child that you have assigned the task to is able to complete it.
- Get all the ingredients together, or Mise en Place. Mise en Place literally means putting in place. This is a term that I heard constantly in culinary school. It is especially important when baking with kids. They can measure everything out. You ensure you have all the ingredients, and it keeps little hands from roaming when it is time to actually mix the recipe.
- Use safe tools for small hands.
- Clean up and put things away as you go. It is an important lesson to teach your children, to clean up after themselves! If you do this, you can have your kitchen almost back to new by time the cookies are out of the oven!
I hope this has helped some of you get the courage to get your kids involved in the kitchen. All these tips can be used when cooking with your kids too, they don’t just have to be for baking. So, get in the kitchen and bake some cookies with your kiddos!