Baking can be a fun, cheap activity to do with the kids at home. But what if all you can think of is the stress and chaos it might cause in your kitchen? Here’s my top practical tips to help you get baking with kids without trashing your kitchen.
Agree ground rules before you begin
Before baking, agree some clear rules with kids about how they’ll use the kitchen. Your rules are likely to differ depending on how old your kids are, but some good ones could include:
- Use of the hot oven/stove top/knives etc should only be done by an adult, or under adult supervision
- Clean up as you go along to prevent accidents and keep the kitchen clean and tidy
- Any baking or cooking activity is not complete until all equipment is washed up and surfaces wiped down If baking with more than one child, assign tasks at the start to avoid any squabbles.
Don’t be in a hurry to finish baking as soon as you start. Leave time for kids to get to grips with new techniques from weighing out to stirring ingredients and filling cupcake cases. You’re also likely to have to stop to answer lots of questions as you go along!
Keep it simple
Start with recipes which involve few stages, limited ingredients and produce a tasty end result. Ideas include simple breads, no-bake cakes such as rice krispie cakes, fairy cakes, scones and flapjacks.
Keep expectations simple too – you’re not auditioning for Bake Off just yet! You might find kids do some parts better than others at first – for example enjoying decorating their bakes if they can’t quite mix the ingredients yet.
Prepare your kitchen
Move knife racks or other sharp or breakable objects away from your work area. This may be the first time your little one has had such close access to the work surfaces – it’s surprising what they can reach!
For older children, make them aware where everything is stored, so that they can find it, and more importantly put it away!
Read through the recipe with your kids (or get them to read it to you) and check that you’ve got all the necessary ingredients and equipment ready. Older kids could help write a shopping list and find the equipment in the kitchen.
Use baking as a way of teaching basic kitchen hygiene too. Remind kids to wash their before you start but also when moving between different stages, for example between handling raw ingredients and cooked.
Cover up clothes – an apron is good but you could also use one of your old T-shirts or shirts for younger children. Alternatively, just wear clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit of flour on!
Tie up long hair, roll up sleeves and remove any jewellery that you don’t want covered in baking ingredients.
Help yourself tidy up
Half the battle of tidying up is trying to limit the mess in the first place where possible – perhaps easier said than done with kids! Some things you can do include:
- Let younger kids use a big bowl, to contain splashes from their enthusiastic stirring.
- Use a large spoon to ladle out ingredients such as flour and sugar, rather than trying to lift and handle a whole packet.
- Put each ingredient away as you use it. This also helps you keep track of what you’ve added already.
- If baking bread, leave dough-covered bowls and utensils out for a little while to dry out the dough. Then scrape the dough off before washing up.
- When icing bakes, put a large baking tray underneath to collect spills.
- Ice biscuits and cupcakes, then dip onto plates covered with sprinkles – it stops hundred and thousands being dropped everywhere!
Ready to start baking with your kids at home? I can help! My step-by-step guide ‘Six easy breads to bake with kids’, including recipes, checklists and how-to videos, is available now. From unicorn cinnamon rolls to delicious cheese swirls, cute hedgehog rolls to crunchy breadsticks, there’s something for everybody.