The holiday season is upon us, and it is time to do some holiday baking. I always associate the holidays with baking. When I was a little girl, I remember baking cookies with my mom. We had a Frosty the Snowman cookie cutter; that was my absolute favourite. As a mom, I wanted to create the same kind of memories with my daughters.
Over the years, we have baked hundreds of cookies that we have given to our family and friends. They may not have always looked Pinterest-worthy, but they were always made with love and laughter. If you want to make memories that will last a lifetime, I've put together my 10 tips for holiday baking with kids.
Start with the right recipe. It is not the time to choose a cookie that has 72 ingredients and 24 complicated steps right out of the gate. Flip through your favourite cookbook, or Pinterest, with your child. Find a recipe that is simple and preferably one that you have tried before. A basic sugar cookie is always a great place to start. Set yourselves up for success.
Plan the baking day in advance so that you can be sure to have everything you need on hand. There is nothing worse than reaching for the egg carton only to discover you have 2 eggs when the recipe calls for 4. Hit the grocery store or the bulk food store in advance of the baking day. Be sure to add parchment paper to your cart. Parchment paper is our kitchen secret weapon, we always bake our cookies on parchment paper, and they never, ever stick.
My number one tip for baking with kids is to get a stool. We have two kids, so we have two stools. Kitchens are not built with children in mind, heck they aren't made with petite women like me in mind. Pull up a stool for your kid and you will open up a whole new world for him. When children can see what is going on and can comfortably reach things on the counter, they will become much more engaged.
Holiday baking is all about having fun. It's time to turn up the holiday Christmas music. Make a mug of hot chocolate and fill the kitchen with holiday spirit. Who doesn't love dancing in the kitchen?
What does every chef need when they bake? An apron. Kids love dressing up, so pull out the aprons and get dressed for the occasion. If you have child sized kitchen tools (whisk, wooden spoon, spatula), grab those too. Having tools that fit your child's hands will make things easier for your child.
Gather up all the ingredients you will need for the recipe and put them on the counter. Depending on your child's age, they can read the recipe and find the ingredient the recipe calls for. Giving your child the responsibility to read the recipe can give your child a big vote of confidence in the kitchen.
Let the kids do the measuring. Worried that the cookies won't come out picture perfect? Know that they probably won't. Working through a recipe is a fun, hands-on math lesson. If you are afraid that the baking powder will end up all over the counter, try this tip. Have your child level off measuring cups and measuring spoons over an empty bowl, not over the mixing bowl. This way any excess ingredients will end up in the trash and not in your cookie dough.
When I bake a batch of cookies I can make the dough and have the cookies baked and on the cooling rack in about an hour. That just isn't going to happen when you are baking with kids - speed is not the point. Take your time and pack your patience. Cracking an egg with a kid can take a few minutes, and that's okay. Patience is the name of the game.
Baking with kids is messy - that is a fact. Resign yourself to the fact that you will be cleaning flour out of crevices in your kitchen for weeks to come. Hey, that's part of the fun.
Holiday baking might spark a new found passion in your child. Holiday baking may lead to baking all year round. Teaching children how to navigate around the kitchen is one of the most important lessons we can teach.
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