When you think about children and baking, what do you see in your mind’s eye? I see my daughter, licking the spoon, putting her fingers in the bowl and then licking her fingers. It’s all about tasting what you’re baking, when it’s raw, when it’s cooked. Experiencing it there and then. Feeling it between your fingers and then tasting it.
Now that I run my own little business, Heaven’s Homebaked Cakes, none of this goes on. Honestly it doesn’t. If it did, quite frankly I wouldn’t have a business, but occasionally when I bake for my family, myself and my daughter do indulge in a bit of good old fashioned bowl-licking fun.
Even though Libby’s now 12, and definitely a tween, she still loves to get her hands covered in food. She’s a massive fan of chocolate (to be honest I can’t understand anyone who isn’t) and loves nothing more then getting her hands in there, covered in chocolate. Even though my baking repertoire is expanding rapidly with my business, my little big girl still loves to make cornflake cakes. They are her all-time favourite and what’s not to love. Simple, tasty and extremely satisfying, especially when fashioned into an Easter nest with some cheeky mini eggs. We always add some golden syrup to our melted chocolate and butter to make it extra gooey and she loves to stir it and watch it slowly melt. Oh, and it has to be real butter, no margarine substitute for us, it has to be real unapologetic butter. Invariably she’ll lick the butter off her hands, and when she was younger she used to love drawing with it on the kitchen worktops. It made this kind of luxurious sheen of golden-butteriness that she drew with and then licked off again.
She pops her sticky chocolatey cornflake mixture into cupcake cases along with the mini eggs, and then into the fridge. This has always been the hardest part for Libby. She’s made them so she wants to eat them straight away. Now. Patience has never been her strong point, so for the next few hours she pops back to the fridge every now and again to check on them. It’s a relief when they’re finally ready and she can eat them. We always seem to make lots but then eat lots before it even gets in the fridge. I, rather optimistically, get a Tupperware out to pop them in, but there’s no need really. We’re lucky if any survive until the next day.
I can still recall similar experiences with my mum when I was a young child. It was the Saturday and Sunday afternoons baking cupcakes and fairy cakes that I used to love. Perhaps it’s creating something together which you can then eat together, or maybe it’s just being in the kitchen with your favourite songs on the radio, that makes it such a lovely shared experience. The warmth of the oven on a cold day and the cosiness of eating something fresh and warm straight out of the oven when it’s raining outside. Licking the bowl when you’re not supposed to, and eating too many cakes because they feel special because you and your mum made them.
If you don’t bake with your little ones, just think about it. You don’t have to bake anything special, and you don’t need any special ingredients or decorations. You can’t go wrong with a Mary Berry vanilla cupcake recipe, a bit of a flour, caster sugar and a few eggs. Make it together, and I honestly believe you’ll get that feel-good feeling together. And if you have any cupcakes left at the end of the day pop them in an air-tight container for pack-lunches or after-school snacks. But I bet you won’t! At least we never do!
Take care and happy baking!