Good Food Blog
Half bakedPosted at 1:06PM, 20 April 2009 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
I thought children's cooking had reached a low point with the plethora of cake mixes aimed at young children. Brightly coloured boxes featuring popular children's characters such as Postman Pat, Thomas the Tank Engine and Barbie take up whole sections of supermarket aisles. All you need to do is just add an egg, stir and spoon into the paper cases provided and decorate with the luridly coloured decorations, which are also included. Apart from the cocktail of artificial colourings and flavourings, the finished cakes don't taste anywhere nearly as good as home made cakes made from scratch -and of course are far more expensive.
But earlier this week in a well known food store I came across two new ideas - a slab of chilled ready made cookie dough and a tray of paper cake cases complete with the mixed batter ready to simply put into the oven and bake. No need to even stir the mixture or spoon it into the cases. Granted you have to cut shapes out of the cookie dough, but how hard is that? These new products are sold on the basis that it's a caring way to share the joy of baking and the enjoyment of eating your child's freshly baked goodies - oh -and of spending quality time with your children - which must amount to all of ten minutes.
Surely the aim of encouraging children to bake is lost if they are just going to be presented with a lump of ready made cookie dough?
Surely the aim of encouraging children to bake is lost if they are just going to be presented with a lump of ready made cookie dough? Part of the pleasure of cooking, particularly for children, is the assembling and measuring out of ingredients, learning the techniques of creaming, stirring, whisking (and having a sneaky taste of the raw mixture) and rolling out dough and cutting it into shapes. Afterwards there's the fun of decorating their cakes or biscuits. How difficult is it to mix icing sugar with water to make glacé icing or with butter for buttercream? A growing number of children simply don't know what fresh raw ingredients look like, nor where they come from.
Let's teach children some basic skills and the true enjoyment of baking from scratch. Once they've mastered the basics, they can go on to improvise by adding spices, chocolate, cheese or whatever to the basic recipe. By all means let's encourage our children to cook, but let's awaken their curiosity in 'real' food and demonstrate that cooking is fun.