With the summer holidays in full swing, children need to be kept occupied with a variety of activities. Baking is in vogue and a lot of kids of all ages are eager to learn more. Although there are plenty of individuals and institutions offering summer baking classes, this isn’t always feasible for everyone because of time or cost constraints. The good news is you can bake with your children at home, even if you have no prior cooking, and baking experience. The internet is chock full of recipes that range from very easy to more challenging in terms of time and ingredients. Choose what works for you and let your kids’ imaginations run wild.

It’s important to note [and most mothers know this already], that baking [or cooking] with children can be challenging, so it is good to set some ground rules in advance. Depending on their age and skills, you can decide if your children are allowed to use the stove or handle knives [safety knives are a good option for younger kids]. It is also good to talk to them in advance and point out a few dos and don’ts about kitchen safety and hygiene, including washing hands and handling hot items with care.

Once you have the basics in place, print out the recipe you are making in advance, and make a list of the tools and ingredients required. If your child is older, they can help with weighing and measuring the ingredients and getting the equipment together. If they are younger, it might be a good idea to prep everything in advance for a stress-free baking experience. Most importantly remember to have fun and enjoy your creations regardless of the results because with baking as with so many other things in life, practice makes perfect. Here are three super easy recipes to get you started:

Keep children busy in the kitchen during school holidays and enjoy the results as a treat

No-bake Cornflake Clusters

No-bake cornflake clusters
No-bake cornflake clusters

56g unsalted butter (in cubes)
1 cup peanut butter
1.5 cups mini marshmallows (if you have large ones, just cut them with a pair of scissors)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 pinch of salt
6 cups cornflakes

Line two big baking trays with baking paper and set aside. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the marshmallows and stir constantly until melted and the mixture is smooth, but do not let it boil. Take off the heat and add the vanilla and salt and gently fold in the cornflakes so that they don’t break. Using an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, scoop up mounds of the mixture and put them on a tray. Let the cookies sit at room temperature for an hour to set (to speed up the process, refrigerate for 20 minutes).

No-bake Rocky Road

No-bake rocky road
No-bake rocky road

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup peanut butter
3 cups mini marshmallows (or regular-sized marshmallows cut with scissors)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
½ cup broken biscuit pieces (any plain sweet biscuit works well)

Line a 9x9 inch pan with foil. Melt together the chocolate chips and the peanut butter over low heat until smooth. Add the nuts, biscuits and marshmallows and stir well to coat. Spread in the pan and refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares with a buttered knife and serve immediately.

Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies
Sugar cookies

226g unsalted butter
1 cup caster sugar
½ teaspoon salt (omit salt if using salted butter)
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup milk, plus more for brushing cookies
1.5 teaspoons vanilla essence
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

Cream the butter, sugar and salt together with an electric mixer until light and creamy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix until blended. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix only until just combined. Turn the dough on to a work surface and flatten it gently with the heel of your hand. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for one hour. Preheat the oven to 160°C, transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll with a rolling pin to ¼ inch thickness. Use your favourite shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies and place them carefully on to an ungreased baking tray. If you’re not planning to ice the cookies, you can brush the tops with milk. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies are barely beginning to turn golden. Repeat with remaining cookie dough. Cool the cookies completely before storing them in air tight containers.

The writer is a professional chef with a diploma in pastry from Le Cordon Bleu

Published in Dawn, EOS, July 3rd, 2022

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