THE PERFECT INGREDIENTS FOR BAKING WITH KIDS (WINE OPTIONAL)

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bennett-and-wine

I love baking with my kids, but sometimes if I don’t do it right – I want to stab myself in the eye by the time I put food in the oven. As we approach the holidays, it’s a great time to bake – so I thought I’d share these key ingredients for kid-assisted baking success:

  1. Prep for the adventure.
    The pregame is as important as the actual baking. Set out all the ingredients and baking supplies before you call the kids in to get started. They aren’t very patient little buggers and finding the vanilla or ¼ teaspoon is often easier when they are watching an episode of Daniel Tiger. Also, be sure to place your mixer or bowl/s in the middle. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Whole baking projects derail by unfair placing of the mixing bowl.
    pregame-small1
  2. Aprons, stools and plenty of tools.
    Finding kid-sized aprons was trickier than I thought it should be – with craft fairs being the big win for these. Finding aprons for boys was even trickier. In fact, I had to have one made for our tractor loving son. (NOTE: aprons are a fun gift idea for kids)
    Stools – we have used step stools, chairs, and potty stools, but have found these Cosco stools to be the best. Because they are tall enough, these also double as our chairs at the “breakfast bar” in our kitchen.
    Enough tools can make or break baking with helpers. Before kids, I had one set of measuring cups and spoons. Now, I have three of everything. Having multiple sets has been invaluable. I picked them up at estate sales or dollar stores. If you can find a 2/3 measuring cup that’s a HUGE win.
  3. Split the ingredients rather than having one kid do each ingredient. There is way less arguing if you have each kid do a ½ cup of sugar and a ½ teaspoon of vanilla rather than one do the sugar and another the vanilla. I often double recipes as I don’t have to do math and get twice the reward.Egg tip: always have kids break eggs in a separate bowl so if (when) there is shell it’s much easier to dig it out. If there is too much shell, just throw it out – it’s a few cents vs lots of annoyance to get shell out of the bowl – give yourself a break (pun intended) and do-over with a new egg.
  4. Expect a giant mess. Prepare yourself for sugar on the floor, spills all over the counter and every bowl and spoon imaginable dirty. Then, when it only looks like a small tornado came through your kitchen, you will be unfazed – or at least prepared.
    For me the hardest thing is when our kids pour stuff out of the measuring items but not in the bowl…we carefully measure and then dump half of it on the counter. (Sigh, take a drink of wine, remeasure).

    dirty-kitchen-2
    What’s that saying? A clean kitchen is the sign of…someone without cookies?
  5. Pick the right recipe. Some recipes just don’t mix well with kids – lots of details or special egg white whipping for the perfect consistency are just not a good idea. Recipes with basic ingredients, easy measuring and a little room for error (is an extra teaspoon of vanilla really going to ruin the cookies?) are the best. Our favorite recipe is this chocolate chip banana bread.
  6. Check any obsessive compulsive tendencies you have at the door. I secretly (and not so secretly) want extreme order in my life. I have four kids. These two do not mix in the same way order and cleanliness do not mix with kids and baking. Be okay with too many cookies in one row or cupcakes that are two very different sizes, or, God forbid, even overflow over the wrapper.

    The unevenness of these cookie drops almost killed me. However, it tasted just fine after baking.
    The unevenness of these cookie drops almost killed me. However, it tasted just fine after baking. And, he was so proud to do it himself.
  7. Cooking wine could be essential to success. Consider drinking while you bake. Not shots. Just a nice glass of chilled wine. When you need a moment, just take a sip. I do recommend putting the glass quite far from the mixing area if possible. Nothing can derail a good baking session like spilling the wine.
  8. Pay attention to the ingredients dumped into the bowl. This is the one part of baking with kids where I sometimes get tripped up. If we don’t get the right cups of flour or teaspoons of baking soda, the recipe doesn’t work. So, I have learned to work a bit slower and really pay attention so I am certain we are getting the right amount of the most important ingredients in the recipe.

Most importantly, have fun, lick the bowl, and take some pictures. There’s nothing quite like a chocolately-faced kid to make the mess of cooking worth it. Happy Baking!

Sweet Bennett
Sweet Bennett

 

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A committed member of the boymom club, Meghan has five active, adventurous, crazy sweet men in her life she often calls her “favorite boys”. Charles is 10, Oliver is 8, Bennett is 5, Simon is 3 and her husband, Luke is a fun, patient, loving father to all these crazy characters. For 18 years, Meghan worked in higher education at a private college in recruitment, marketing, and social media. Now, working from home, she balances four boys, a great husband, freelance writing and social media consulting. Meghan grew up in St. Charles, IL (a western Chicago suburb), attended Augustana College, and is a true Quad City transplant - she loves living in this area! She likes to read, sing, plan adventures, travel and just be with her favorite boys.

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