So, you’re ready to start baking with whatever young child you have to hand. What recipe should you pick? I don’t think that you have to pick something designated as a children’s recipe at all, but I do think it’s a good idea to check through all the steps before you start to make sure there aren’t going to be any surprises half way through. If you’ve tried it yourself beforehand then all the better, for the same reason.
Having said that, there are many recipes which are particularly ideally suited to people with short attention spans, lowered awareness of the dangers of heat and sharp knives, and no patience at all for steps they’re not allowed to participate in. Here are some of our favourites:
1. Banana flapjack
This was the first thing that Munchkin and I made together, in the days before I let him eat sugar (ha!). The original was from the Ella’s Kitchen Cookbook, but it was so easy you can just make it up: mash a banana or two, add a few tablespoons of porridge oats and raisins, mix, smooth out in a tin and microwave for a few minutes, stopping every thirty seconds or so to check on progress. The original recipe called for oven baking but I tried the microwave so that Munchkin would understand what we’d done had led directly to something edible!
2. Yogurt pot muffins
These are absolutely our go-to favourites as they are so easy and adaptable. All the ingredients are measured out using a small yogurt pot and you can add whatever fruit you like. You can also lower the sugar if you don’t want them too sweet. We usually add raisins and sultanas because we love our berries too much to do anything other than eat them! We use this recipe
3. 1, 2, 3 cookies
The name is because of the proportions of the ingredients which is a little bit genius (if you forget which is which remember that flour provides the bulk, so it’s the biggest, and you probably don’t want your child going into a sugar coma, so that’s the smallest). We were introduced to these at a biscuit-making workshop we went to recently. Bonus point: they’re vegan if you use dairy-free marge and vegan choc chips:
300g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla
1tsp baking powder
handful of choc chips or berries
Mix (it’s quite crumbly, so a good one for little hands to get into). Roll into balls and place on a baking tray. Bake for about 10-12 minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.
4. Sponge cake/fairy cakes
This is a good one as it’s fairly easy and forgiving, and can be made using an electric mixer or even a food processor. There are also lots of options for family-favourite flavours (lemon, orange, or of course, chocolate) and once it/they are baked there are even more options for decoration. I also have a standby vegan one for days when we’re out of butter.
Again, nice and quick, few ingredients, nice and soft for fingers to work with, and then opportunities for rolling and cutting out. Plus they bake quickly. You can make them savoury by adding cheese instead of the dried fruit.
6. Cut out cookies
By this I mean the sort of cookie where you make a dough, roll it out and get going with the cutters. Amazingly we haven’t really tried these despite having a ridiculous array of biscuit cutters. Again, they are optimisable in terms of flavours, there are a million recipes on the web, and they can be decorated. Plus if they get scrappy you can just ball them up and roll out the dough again. They make nice take-home presents or even Christmas tree decorations.
But what if you really can’t stand the idea of mess, not being in control, or the eating of too much raw mixture (though on the latter note, scones and the 1,2,3 cookies are egg-free which might remove any worries about raw eggs)? Here are some suggestions:
1. Use a boxed cake mix – you only need to add minimal ingredients and the cupcake ones often come with cute rice paper decorations to stick on afterwards. With no weighing out the child can do most of it him or herself.
2. Do the baking yourself in advance and get the child involved in the decorating.
3. Decorate plain biscuits with simple water and icing sugar icing, plus sprinkles and sweets.
4. Make play-dough or salt dough biscuits – you still get all the rolling and cutting
5. Make savoury things that you feel happier with. Munchkin loves scattering cheese on puff pastry to make cheese straws.
6. Play food! Still learning about the sociable side of food, sharing, and the processes that they see adults doing.
7. And on that note, eat out! Sharing a cake or a cookie in a cafe is still making happy memories 🙂