Baking Bothers: Getting Kids to Cook

Q. I’d really like to start baking with my children but I just don’t know where to start. What are your top ideas for getting kids involved in the kitchen?

Lotte Duncan says: It’s always been an unwritten rule that children begin their cooking skills with something like rock cakes. They can get their hands in, feel the texture etc. I don’t agree.

Rock cakes are pretty hideous at the best of times, and I think children should be inspired from day one with something visual and spectacular. Start with some fairy cakes and leave them alone to ice them – give them edible glitter, sweeties, different coloured icing and let them go bonkers with it!

I think the best way to get children involved in the kitchen is every day food – not just the fun cakes. Give them little jobs to do while you are making lunch or tea. Get them to wash and peel the vegetables, weigh out the ingredients, etc. Children learn so much more this way and quickly become used to preparing and indentifying food properly. And although you have to be careful with hot food and sharp knives, the quicker children have respect for them, the better they’ll be at handling them when asked to do so.

Juliet Sear says: It’s a great idea to choose a time when they are excited about a theme, especially if they are covering a topic at school. Perhaps they are learning about charity, you can encourage them to do a bake sale for school to raise money, or of course, for seasonal times or birthdays - it’s a great idea to get them thinking about what to create in the kitchen. Have a look with them online and encourage them to choose their own flavours or pick designs so they will feel really in charge of their ideas. Make sure you always allow plenty of time once getting started with kids, because if you are in a rush, it might feel a bit stressful!

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