Noah and I are working our way through Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. We can only make about 40% of the cakes in there because many of the ingredients are difficult to get in Vienna. There is no such thing as self-raising flour in the supermarkets and Mary is very partial to this over plain flour.
Here are the steps you need to take if you are planning on baking with your three year old:
- If your child is anything like mine, they will interpret the term “naked chef” literally. If you are lucky, you might be able to get a child’s apron over his/her naked body, but probably not.
- You and your child need to wash your hands. You will have to have a comeback ready for comments like, “I don’t need to wash my hands because I haven’t got any wee-wee on them.” What about the fact you trailed your hand along the wall when we went outside earlier? What about the sticks and leaves you picked up when we walked through the park?
- You (parent/guardian) be in charge of the measuring of butter, sugar and flour and let your child be in charge of tipping it all into the bowl. If you want the flour to be sieved as Mary suggests, you will have to be super quick to whip the sieve out of the cupboard and over the bowl in time. Actually, don’t expect the flour to be sieved.
- After your child has enthusiastically cracked the eggs into the bowl, pick as much egg shell out as you can. Expect the cakes to be a bit crunchy.
- Allow your child to get his/her mini mixing spoon out and have a good go at the mixture. Once they declare the lumpy, sticky, eggy mess is ready, divert their attention in any way you can whilst beating the mixture yourself. Beware! If your child catches you at this, he/she will be mightily offended.
- After you have spooned the mixture into 11 cases whilst your child is working on the final one (which is flat and dripping), you might want to let him/her lick the spoon. This is a bit controversial nowadays and I am always worried about Noah licking cake batter because it has raw eggs in it. But what is a childhood if you can’t lick the spoon? Also, he wants to eat the cake before it goes into the oven and surely a few licks is better than a whole uncooked fairy cake?
- Make sure you have spare ingredients because there are bound to be spillages or droppages. You may find yourselves in an icing sugar storm. Quite a big storm. There may not really be enough icing sugar to make your buttercream anything other than pale piped butter.
- The kitchen will be one almighty state. You will not have help tidying up. Also, you will probably be blamed: “Mummy, why have you made such a mess?”
- Allow your child to stand beside you (at a safe distance) while you remove the cakes from the oven, then distract them in a different room so they are out of the way and not determined to eat the cake whilst boiling hot. Creep back into the kitchen and add the finishing touches to the butterfly cakes (i.e. attempt to cut the top of, cut it in half and stick it back on with buttercream). This, of course, is virtually impossible. The cakes will look a state and nothing like butterflies. But that’s ok: you can blame the threenager. Forget dusting them with icing sugar afterwards (see point 7).
- Don’t make cakes when you are on a diet. Or when you have recently been on a diet and lost a total of 6 inches off your body and half a stone. Avoid the left over buttercream. If you don’t, you probably feel a bit sick by the time the cakes are ready, but will have one anyway to keep your child company. Or is this just me?