Baking for the Fun of It

Nothing smells as good as homemade cookies baking in the oven. Whether a planned event or spur of the moment decision, baking is a fun activity that often includes traditions and recipes that have been handed down through the generations. With that said, celebrate “Bake for Family Fun Month” all February long. 

If used to baking alone, it is a lot different than baking with the family, especially when working with young children. Much can be learned in the kitchen from measuring skills to math, from following directions to time management. Baking with your family is a win-win. Not only do children of all ages enjoy baking with their loved ones, but this activity also encourages independence and creativity.

When baking with kids, age obviously plays a factor in what tasks are appropriate and safe for a child. While some children require one to one attention, older children may only require supervision. 

Here are some quick tips to maximize a positive experience in the kitchen:

  • Before you start, make sure to read the recipe together first. Review what the recipe entails, step by step. 
  • Emphasize the importance of keeping the work area clean. Be sure to wash your hands and countertops before starting any baking project. Reinforce the importance of cleaning up during and after the baking session is over. 
  • Aprons or large T-shirts are great for keeping clothes clean during the baking process.
  • Preheating the oven is often the first step in the baking process. Before doing this, make sure the oven racks are in the right place for the pans and recipe. Make sure there is enough room in the oven, so the pans do not touch each other or the oven sides. Keep clean, dry oven mitts or pads close by.
  • Gather all the ingredients and kitchen tools needed.
    • Consider the baking tray or pans that will be used. Using parchment paper makes cleaning up a breeze. 
    • When a recipe calls for room temperature ingredients, it’s important to comply. Cold butter cannot be creamed, and cold eggs can shock and curdle the batter.
      • To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, place them in a bowl and run them under warm tap water for a few minutes. 
      • To bring butter to room temperature, use the microwave but keep a close eye on it because if it gets too soft, it can ruin a recipe. 
    • Pour liquids (water, oil, milk, honey, corn syrup) in a clear liquid measuring cup placed on the countertop. Read the amount at eye level for accuracy.
    • Use standard dry measures for dry ingredients (flours, sugar, cocoa, brown sugar, cornmeal). Use measuring spoons for small amounts less than ¼ cup (4 tablespoons).
  • Once all the ingredients are measured out, follow the recipe as outlined.
    • While kids love to mix batter, it is important to avoid over-mixing. Once you add flour to a recipe, mixing encourages gluten development which creates a chewy or tough texture. For the perfect product, stir only until the batter is uniform!
  • Always remember to practice food safety. Provide separate towels for hands and dishes. Be sure to return perishable items back to the refrigerator.
  • Speaking of safety:
    • Always turn handles of pans toward the center of the stove to avoid disturbing the pan and possibly causing them to tip or spill. 
    • Keep cupboard doors and drawers closed unless in use.
    • Use only dry hot pads or oven mitts because heat goes through damp mitts. 
    • When stirring or checking for doneness, avoid steam by tilting the lids away from you.

Now, let’s get baking!

  • Try this healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe the next time you need to whip up a treat but want to watch those extra calories. 
  • Meringues are festive fat-free cookies that can dress up your dessert tray all year long. With just 3 ingredients: egg whites, granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar, meringues are a sweet treat for everyone.   
  • Who doesn’t love a good peanut butter cookie? Made with whole wheat flour and oats for a bit of crunch, these classic cookies are moist and delicious.
  • Try these gluten free Carrot Nut Muffins made with ripe bananas and dates. Enjoy a sweet touch without all the added sugar.

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