LITTLE BAKERS Through plumes of fl our and showers of

sprinkles, we asked Katy Hofstede-Smith where to start when it comes to baking with kids.


aking with kiddies is, if you can let go of your inner-perfectionism, great fun. It teaches them so many great lessons, from an awareness

of ingredients to chemistry, counting and numbers, measuring and quantity, and the structure of following a recipe countered with let loose creativity.

T e easiest and most obvious starting point for baking with little ones, especially if they are very young or haven’t done much baking before, is cupcakes. Every child loves them, they are easy to make and pretty forgiving. T e current favourite in our house is lemon and blueberry or banana, which are just as delicious plain, as they are with a topping. However, the toppings are where you can really let their imaginations run wild. Lay out as many things

as you can fi nd; sprinkles, edible glitter, fruits - especially small berries and exotic slices, edible fl owers and icing pens to really fi nish the look. Make some icing up, either as one colour or split the batch to make multiple colours, place into sandwich bags with the corner cut off and little hands can easily squeeze them onto the cakes.

Mini cheesecakes are also incredibly easy for little ones and quick enough to hold their attention but with a few diff erent stages. T e base can be made in cake tins with the fi lling piped in and some decoration such as candied peel or a compote placed on top once chilled. Tackling pastry is great fun as not only is there an element of chemistry and cooking, rolling out and cutting is always a winner and teaches children about geometry and patterns.

Small baking ideas don’t just have to be sweet or fi lled with sugar. Mini savoury muffi ns, cheese scones or tiny tarts are all delicious and have the added benefi t of helping to reinforce that non-sweet foods can also be fun. A really nice way to make kneading easier for young chefs is to put all of the ingredients into a sealed sandwich bag and let them mix and knead it by squeezing and moving the contents around, whilst older children can practice their stretching and folding skills and watch as the gluten develops and the texture changes. Turn the bread into fun animal shapes, tearing sharing swirls or bake in little fl ower pots and top with seeds, nuts or dried fruit.

For older children, traditional cakes form really interesting starting points for them to turn into more modern mini bakes. Miniature victoria sponge cakes with fresh cream and jam fi llings; individual carrot cakes with delicious cream cheese frosting and toasted seeds sprinkled on top; baby battenbergs are easier for smaller hands but just as delicious to eat; mini éclairs can be fi lled with either whipped cream or a fl avoured cream and decorated with diff erent colour toppings for a more elegant take on a cupcake.

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