This week in Baking with Children we have Charlie from Mess and Merlot. I have been
stalking following Charlie for a while now and if you go and check out her social media you will know why! She is one seriously talented lady when it comes to cakes (not jealous at all!) Would it be odd to admit that I squealed a little when she had a post for me and then got even more excited when I read it. I won’t ruin it but she shares a very similar fear of baking with children that I do! A huge reason I started this series was to over come that fear and normalise the mess and mayhem that inevitably ensues.
So I know you don’t want to listen (should that say read? I don’t know) to me waffling on so here is Charlie:
When I heard that Kirsty was starting a guest series involving kids and baking I knew it was something I wanted to be part of and thankfully she kindly agreed to let me guest post – yay! I blog at Mess & Merlot and if you’ve ever visited my site or follow me on Instagram or Twitter you may have noticed the odd bit of cakery that goes on from time to time. That’s because in the real world I run a home baking business Martha’s Kitchen and so spend a lot of my time playing with cake mix and getting covered in icing sugar.
I would forgive you for thinking that my kids therefor must be a dab hand in the kitchen, whipping up fairy cakes and banana bread on a weekly basis but I can assure you that is not the reality! OK so they might be able to tell you what goes into a Victoria Sponge or how to make a fondant rose but actually being let loose with ingredients and allowed to bake? Ehh, not happening because, STRESS!! What parent in their right mind would suggest an activity that involves kids making even more mess when they can already do that spectacularly well by themselves?!
I know, I know, mean Mummy. I need to loosen up a bit, allow them to enjoy this wonderful experience, building idyllic childhood memories blah blah but unless you want those childhood memories to involve mummy rocking in the corner of the room muttering expletives, I promise you, it’s not a good idea. The fact that I bake for other people means I’m so used to things having to be a certain way that it’s hard to watch the chaos that unfolds before me if we attempt to do ‘real’ baking.
I’m not completely heartless though, I know how much children enjoy baking, even if they do want to skip to the end result immediately and usually end up burning their mouths on molten cookies. Despite the destruction (deeeeeep breaths) I actually like the idea of them learning to create something by themselves and feeling a sense of achievement when they see the fruits of their labour.
My survival technique solution to this little predicament? Preparation and elimination. Listen up, if you want to see this through without needing alcohol and/or prescription drugs you need to be clever about it.
Preparation: Pretty self explanatory but getting ingredients measured out into little bowls, lining tins, cracking eggs yourself etc will save you SO much stress and also stop little ones getting bored or feeling like you’re taking over.
Elimination: If possible, try to make something that involves a few simple stages. Now is not the time to attempt a croquembouche adorned with spun sugar. No-bake or all in one ‘loaf’ style recipes are ideal.
Double Chocolate Crispie Slice
This recipe is the holy trinity of simple, scrummy and fun. It’s quick and easy to prepare and allows young children to do most of the ‘baking’ independently without too much risk to the kitchen walls, win-win. It’s basically a twist on the old favourite crispie cakes, but layering white and milk chocolate makes a bit of a change and looks cool when you cut through to slice it too! My little bakers were really proud of their work and brought them to their Grandparents to share out after Sunday lunch. Here’s how they did it:
Have your Sous-Chef prepare 100g white & 100g milk chocolate, 200g crispies, small bowl mini-marshmallows, sprinkles to decorate.
Break chocolate into chunks in separate bowls and have Sous-Chef melt gently in microwave.
Stir enough crispies into the chocolate so they are all well coated (you may not need all of them).
Add mini-mallows (or jellybeans, sultanas, Smarties -whatever you like!) and stir in.
Press firmly into a lined loaf tin one bowl at a time.
Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle. Pop in fridge for 30mins.
You know what to do here…
Make sure you enquire regularly (preferably every 2-3 mins) if they’re done yet. Once firm get Sous-Chef to cut into squares with a sharp knife. Ta-dah!
This recipe has the added bonus of being able to divide each stage between two little bakers if necessary, resulting in a much more enjoyable experience minus cries of ‘I wanted to do that bit’ or ‘it’s not fair, he got to lick the spoon’.
Before I go here’s sneaky little baking tip for you. Make up a batch of cookie dough in your own time, roll it in cellophane and keep it in the freezer. If your little one ever requests a bit of baking and you really can’t face going full on Nigella, chop a few slices off the cookie dough, pop straight onto a lined baking sheet and into the oven for 10-15mins – voila! Mess-free home baking and a happy kid in less time than it takes to endure an episode of Topsy and Tim. Take that Mrs Odell.
Thanks so much to Kirsty for allowing me to take part in the series; I hope you can now enjoy a slightly less stressful baking sesh with you little ones!
Thank you so much Charlie! I really appreciate your contribution. Now everyone go and follow her! You won’t regret it.
If anyone things they would like to take part in Baking with Children please get in touch with me on any of my social networks or on email at firstname.lastname@example.org