Baking with my mum and sister are some of my favourite childhood memories. We both grew up with allergies at a time when, compared to today, they were not well catered for so everything was cooked from scratch. And that’s where my love for baking started.
With that in mind, I’m offering the following ideas to help you during this unique time to entertain your children and hopefully make more great memories at the same time.
I have a selection of 3 recipes and will try to provide some pointers on how to do these activities with kids of a range of ages.
But first these things should help with children of any age:
Appropriate tools are really helpful, such as a plastic lettuce knife – small tools for little hands. And children always love to have their own apron.
A stool is helpful so they can reach the side themselves. I have a big stool from IKEA for my 2.5 yr old and it’s great (mostly)!
Clear as large a space as possible, then any mess is easy to clear up.
Get all your ingredients out in advance.
Read the whole recipe and method first.
If you try and make sure you know it as well as you can you are less likely to make mistakes, making any failures less likely and hopefully meaning your kids don’t get frustrated or bored. For older kids that can read, it might be worth writing it in a flowing way so they can follow the whole recipe rather than jumping back to the ingredients list. For example: “add 350g of butter and 350g of sugar to the bowl and cream together”.
Have lots of extra spoons for licking. Some people prefer to let their kids only try at the end, using a phrase such as “it tastes much more delicious when we’ve done it all, you can try it then”. Alternatively, you can always use it to teach them how adding different ingredients makes things taste different and change the texture - this is the approach I take.
Encourage your kids to do all aspects of the baking, but keep within their skills to avoid frustration - this doesn’t mean preventing them from trying things, but if they try and it doesn’t work, take over quickly and ensure they feel they helped.
If your kid isn’t counting or reading numbers yet, premeasure all the ingredients in bowls or tubs then let them “measure it out”.
If they can read numbers, you can get them to measure the ingredients into separate bowls, so nothing is wasted if they put in too much. All they have to be able to do is identify numbers in the right order; they don’t have to be able to understand what that number is.
Talk about the ingredients. If they are interested in science, you can encourage them to understand how each ingredient does its own thing. Baking powder creates carbon dioxide causing the rise in a cake, for example. Or for younger kids get them to experience the textures and the smells.
Once everything is in its own bowl, they can then add the ingredients themselves, without risking ruining the whole thing by them adding too much.
If colouring, use gel colouring in squeezy tubes; they make a lot less mess and you don’t need to use/waste as much.
Fun biscuit cutters are always a win. Try and find them in shapes that appeal to their interests - you’d be surprised at what you can find! However, if you don’t have any there’s plenty you can do without - clean playdoh cutters for example. Alternatively, roll the dough out into balls, flatten them and make shapes on top with a fork or knife.
Most importantly, on to the recipes:
My absolute favourite dessert, a great one for kids to get right in there with their hands.
- 4 bowls to measure ingredients
- Potato peeler
- A sharp knife - a plastic lettuce knife is perfect for cutting apples and can be used by little ones.
- Knife for cutting butter
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring spoons - teaspoon
- Casserole dish
- 2 Large mixing bowls
- Your hands!
- 6-8 Bramley apples (green cooking apples).
If you are unable to get hold of these you can use eating apples, just reduce the amount of sugar - or forgo it for a healthier option.
- 4 teaspoons sugar to taste
- 2 teaspoons of cornflour- this gives you a nice thick apple sauce however it is not strictly necessary
- Sprinkling of cinnamon (optional)
Peel the apples and then core them.
At this point, I encourage my little boy to cut up the apples into cubes - this is where the lettuce knife comes in handy, providing as much or as little help as your child needs.
Place the cut up apples in a bowl and pour the sugar and cornflour over the apples and sprinkle with cinnamon (if you are using it). Now mix in the apples so they are all well covered. Put apples in the dish and put to one side.
- 175g Chilled cubed butter
- 150g Plain flour
- 50g Self raising flour
- 100g Demerara sugar - I like to use demerara sugar as it gives a caramelly finish but if you don’t have it granulated or * caster sugar is fine
- Extra sugar to sprinkle on top
Preheat oven to 160°C / Gas mark 3-4.
Place all ingredients into the large mixing bowl and using clean cool hands.
“Rub in” the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Do this by rubbing the ingredients together between your fingertips. Kids love this bit no matter what age!
Once they look like breadcrumbs, pour over the top of the apples in the dish. Gently pat it down, then use a fork to rough up the top a little for some nice crispy bits.
Sprinkle sugar over the top.
Place in the middle shelf of the oven for 30-40 mins or until golden brown.
Top tip - The key to a good crumble is keeping the butter as cool as possible during the rubbing in, so try to just use your finger tips.
Vanilla Victoria sponge
A big crowd pleaser, can also be used for cupcakes.
- Measuring spoons - ¼ teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, teaspoon, tablespoon.
- 5 bowls for ingredients
- Electric hand whisk
- Spoons, plus extra for licking
- Spatula is useful but not essential
- Knife for cutting butter
- 2 x 8in cake tins
- Cupcake cases
- Wire rack
- 8in tins
- 340g Unsalted butter or Baking block if you are dairy free (this gives a less greasy texture than tubbed margarine)
- 340g Caster / granulated sugar
- 6 Large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 340g self raising flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 6 tablespoons milk
To prepare the tins, wet a paper towel with a small amount of oil and wipe it around the tins. Then use a small amount of flour to dust the oil. This works very well at stopping the cakes sticking to the tins.
- 12 cupcakes - half of the main recipe
If you want to encourage some maths why not get your child to work this out if they are able. This is for muffin size cases.
- 170g Unsalted butter or Baking block if you are dairy free (this gives a less greasy texture than tubbed margarine)
- 170g Caster / granulated sugar
- 3 Large eggs
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 170g self raising flour
- ¾ teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 180c/ gas mark 4
Measure out all of your ingredients first.
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy- the longer you do this the lighter your cake would be. Try to do it for at least 4-5 minutes.
Crack the eggs into a jug and mix very thoroughly, until you can no longer see the difference between the whites and the yolks.
Add the eggs slowly while still mixing, about 1 tablespoon at a time.
Add the vanilla extract.
Add the dry ingredients and fold in until just incorporated.
Add the milk and stir in.
Divide the mixture into 2 8in tins or the cupcake cases.
A large cake should take between 35-40 minutes.
You can test that it is cooked by using a metal skewer: place it into the middle of the cake and if it comes out clean, the cake is done. If you do not have a metal skewer, you can test the cake by pressing the center down and if it springs all the way back, it is ready. It will have also pulled away from the edges of the tins a little.
Once cooked, leave to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to completely cool.
Cupcakes take around 20 minutes to cook - test if they are cooked as above. Once cooked, remove from the tin straight to a wire rack
Top tips - it’s a good idea to weigh your mixture in the tins to ensure that your cakes are the same size.
An ice cream scoop is a perfect tool to make sure you get the same amount of mixture in your cupcake cases. The size of the scoop required will depend on the size of your cases. You want your cases to be filled to about 2/3rds of the way up.
Don’t open your oven too early; it can cause your cake to sink.
- 250g butter - i like to use lightly salted butter as it cuts through the sweetness of the icing sugar
500g icing sugar
Vanilla - add 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or some vanilla bean paste
Chocolate - use 450g icing sugar and 50g cocoa powder
Lemon - add 2 tablespoons of lemon curd
Salted caramel - ½ teaspoon salt and 3 teaspoons caramel extract
Cut up the butter and beat until light and creamy.
Add your flavourings and beat in.
Add approx. ⅓ of your icing sugar and beat for 1 minute and repeat with the rest.
Once all icing sugar has been incorporated add any colourings and beat for a further 3-5 minutes.
Spoon or pipe on your cakes.
Very adaptable, and vegan friendly
- 4-5 tubs for ingredients
- Measuring spoon - tablespoon, teaspoon
- Knife for cutting butter
- Wooden spoon
- Large mixing bowl
- 2 Baking trays
- Baking parchment - make sure it’s for baking and not just greaseproof paper as otherwise your cookies might stick
- Cookie cutters and a rolling pin if available
- Wire rack
- 75g caster sugar
- 60g golden syrup
- 1 tablespoon water
- 95g unsalted butter - or baking block if wanting dairy free
260g plain flour (a little more if needed)
Vanilla - 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Lemon - finely grated zest of 1 lemon - and a little of the juice
Orange - finely grated zest of 1 orange - and a little of the juice
Chocolate - replace 50g of the plain flour with 50g of cocoa powder
Measure out all the ingredients.
Put the sugar, golden syrup, water and any zest of flavourings together in a large saucepan.
Bring them to the boil, while stirring all the time.
Remove from the heat and add the butter, stir until all melted.
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and pour contents of the saucepan over it.
Stir the mixture until well combined, and add a little more flour if you think it needs it - remember to substitute some flour for the cocoa if you are making chocolate cookies.
Once you have mixed in the ingredients, kneed it for about a minute until it holds together well and forms a smooth dough.
Roll the dough into a large ball and wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 mins.
Preheat the oven 180c/ gas mark 4.
Line your baking sheet with baking paper.
Knead the dough lightly just to warm up a little, then roll out flat to about 1.5cm thick and cut out with your desired cutters. To prevent the cookies from spreading while baking, place back in the fridge for 15-20 mins before you place in the oven.
If you do not have cutters, you can roll small balls and place them on the baking paper and then press down with the palm of your hand until about 1.5-2cm thick.
Each design will vary depending on the size but a general rule is small designs 8 minutes, larger designs 10-15 minutes.
Once cooked, leave on the baking tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack
To decorate use coloured water icing and sprinkles.
- 125g icing sugar
- 15ml Warm Water
- Choice of Gel colouring
Measure out ingredients.
Slowly add the water to the icing sugar until you have a very thick paste, this will stop your icing being lumpy. While very thick add your colouring until you have the desired colour, then whilst still stirring, slowly add the rest of the water until you have the desired consistency.
Amanda Ridgway is the owner of SophistiCakes. Check out her work at socakes.co.uk or visit facebook, instagram or twitter: @socakes