Baking is a wonderful way to spark a lifelong love of the kitchen in your children. It teaches kids about the processes of cooking: following a recipe (even if you're the one doing it), measuring, combining ingredients and applying heat for a tasty result. It's messy (and therefore fun!) and the rewards are hard to resist. Here are our suggestions for baking with kids.
1. Keep it simple
Start with an easy recipe so kids can really be involved in the process. Even very young children can help weigh out ingredients, sift flour, crack eggs and mix. You can always step in to ensure the process is done thoroughly, and it's best to keep young children away from mixers and ovens. You can use these fairy cakes as a starting point. Little toffee apple cake is another great recipe for children aged eight years and up. Older kids might also like to have a go at these chocolate fudge cupcakes but any easy-to-moderate recipe is suitable if you allocate child-friendly jobs.
2. Add some icing
A little dollop of icing turns even the roughest baked goods into something tasty – and what could be more fun than colouring and drizzling icing onto cupcakes and cakes? These easy iced buns are a great way to get children started with bread-making. Let the kids choose their favourite food colours to mix up a topping, then decorate with sprinkles.
3. Try some cookies
Simple rainbow cookies are easy to make with the kids and great fun to decorate – and they don't have to be perfect. Lay out a tray for dipping and sprinkling and let the fun commence. Alternatively, try our easiest ever biscuits – you can use clean toys to create stamped patterns in the dough.
4. Practice piping skills
Buttercream icing and whipped cream make irresistible toppings. Fill a piping bag and let the little ones wreak havoc. Alternatively, spoon a small heap on top. Again, perfection isn't the aim – piping is tricky for little hands.
5. Sprinkle some sweets
Sweets like dolly mixtures, chocolate buttons and candy-coated chocolates make great decorations and will cover many cupcake mishaps. Also look for edible glitter (be sparing!) and cake sprinkles from the supermarket baking section.
6. Feeling fruity
7. Edible writing
Writing icing can be bought in packets of assorted colours or individual tubes from the supermarket. Get older children to write messages like 'happy birthday' or their names. Young children can use them to make squiggles and dots.
8. Cut it out
Use food colouring to colour shop-bought marzipan or ready-rolled icing. Roll it out on a surface dusted with icing sugar and let kids use a variety of cutters to make shapes. Stick them on top of traybakes or cupcakes.
9. Dazzle with drizzle
Melt white, dark and milk chocolate in separate bowls to use as decoration for a chocolate loaf cake. Put the cake on a wire rack with a tray or wipe-clean surface underneath. Put a spoon in each of the chocolate bowls for drizzling.
10. Embrace the mess
The golden rule when cooking and baking with kids is to let the mess happen. If mess makes you stressed, look at ways to contain the disaster zone. A large tray underneath any sprinkling or mixing can really help, and when weighing out, give your children a spoon to scoop out flour and sugar rather than upturning a whole bag into your measuring bowl. Allocate jobs for adults if you foresee trouble ahead. But above all, have fun!
Do you have any tips for baking with children? Leave a comment below...
Find over 400 guides on everything from the best wooden play food and kids baking set ideas to amazing space projects for kids in our reviews section. And, take a look at our baking recipe collection for kids.