Cooking with Kids (and Having Fun While Doing It!)
Kids love helping out in the kitchen. And cooking with them can be a lot of fun! My husband and I have been cooking with our daughter Gates, now three years old, since she was about 18 months. Not all cooking experiments have turned out, but the memories and opportunities to talk about why something didn’t work have been great lessons.
My husband and I bonded when we were dating over food, exploring restaurants in our neighborhood and cooking together in my kitchen. So it’s only natural that our daughter Gates shares our love of food and of cooking.
Like most little ones, Gates does best in the kitchen when she’s calling the shots. We make sure we always bake right after she’s woken up from a nap and on a full stomach. Everyone’s patience is short when they’re hungry or tired, so plan ahead. Baking is also a treat for Gates, so she’s willing to head into a nap, knowing she’ll be baking when she wakes up. .
To give Gates as much independence as possible while keeping the activity safe, we’ve modify the recipes we make with her. We make sure there aren’t any ingredients that could be harmful if consumed, especially eggs. We also premeasure ingredients to keep the overall activity short to keep her attention.
Five Tips for Fun in the Kitchen With Your Kids
Follow these five tips and you’ll be sure to have a fun time in the kitchen with your little one.
Egg-free. Choose recipes that can be safely tested raw. Little ones are curious; almost everything goes into their mouths. Reduce your stress level by baking cakes or cookies that don’t include eggs. Then you don’t have to worry when the batter goes into their mouths instead of into the baking pan.
Small batches. The bigger the batch you’re making, the more upper body strength it takes to combine your wet ingredients with your dry ingredients. Instead of baking a dozen or two cookies make half a dozen. Not only will your little one be less likely to get frustrated, you’ll reduce the amount of sweets on hand they’ll want to eat.
Premeasure ingredients. Give your little ones as much independence as possible. And reduce the length of your activity. Not all little ones have an attention span that will last from measuring ingredients to combining them to popping them into the oven. Be sure to use containers that are easily grasped by little hands.
Large surface area. Realize (and accept) chances are high that your little one, you, and your kitchen are going to get messy. Prepare a large workspace where clean up will be easy. A large workspace, like the surface of your kitchen table, is great because there’s no risk of little ones touching hot surfaces or reaching for sharp knives on crowded kitchen counters.
No schedule. Begin cooking with your little one when you have plenty of time set aside. Right before a dinner party when you need your cake to turn out perfectly is not the best time. As little ones taste and touch ingredients your recipe is getting modified. Cakes may or may not rise.
Vegan Tea Cakes
Why not serve freshly baked vegan tea cakes that you and your little one made together at your next tea party?
This recipe makes a small batch so you won’t have a lot of food to throw out if the recipe doesn’t turn out. It’s also pretty forgiving. The tea cakes are still yummy if not perfectly smooth in appearance. Best of all is that this recipe is refined-sugar free, the only sweetener being the Maple syrup, which means you won’t be peeling your little one off of the ceiling .
Ingredients, makes 6 tea cakes
- 1 cup unbleached White flour
- 1 teaspoon non-aluminum Baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Almond milk
- 1/4 cup Grade B Maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 teaspoon alcohol-free Vanilla
- Move your oven rack so that your tea cakes will be in the middle of your oven. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to use an oven thermometer to check the temperature.
- Grease nonstick muffin pan.
- In large bowl, add flour, baking powder, and salt. (Using a large bowl, reduces some of the mess when your little one mixes the ingredients together.) Make a hollow in the middle of your ingredients.
- In a medium bowl (preferably a batter bowl or one with a pouring spout), mix almond milk, maple syrup, olive oil, and vanilla.
- When the wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed, pour into the middle of the dry ingredients.
- Mix wet and dry ingredients until combined. Remember to brush dry ingredients down from the side of the bowl into the batter. Do not overmix.
- Spoon batter evenly into your muffin pan.
- Place your muffin pan into the oven and bake for 12 minutes; check by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, your tea cakes are done.
- Remove tea cakes from oven using oven mitts.
- Place baking rack upside down on top of muffin pan and flip. Your tea cakes should easily pop out onto the baking rack.
- Let cool.
- To serve, drizzle your favorite glaze or frosting, or eat plain. Be sure to eat your tea cakes the same day you made them.
Author: Eden Hensley
Learn more about Eden, here.