For our boys' birthdays, I love baking them a cake... or ordering a cake from Coldstone. Our 4-year olds lucked out and each got a Coldstone cake this year. Our baby lucked out since we were living in the Navy Lodge during a military move (a friend actually baked him a cake though, which was super sweet). Our oldest on the other hand managed to have his birthday fall right in that rush of "so glad we are FINALLY in our OWN house with our OWN things" and there was no way in Hades I wasn't going to bake his cake.
On top of that, our other 3 wanted to help (the baby did not actually say he wanted to help, but he is a new walker and in that "requires constant supervision" phase).
Since our 4-year olds wanted to actually make the cake, I measured out all the ingredients beforehand. This made it much easier when actually mixing because their attention spans fall in the category of, "Oh! Look! Shiny!" We also had a lot of discussion over taking turns... they both seemed to feel that it was always their turn and never their brother's turn, "You let me put that in. Not that guy. That guy can't help anymore." "That guy" being the twin brother.
Once everything was measured and hands were washed, it was time to bite the bullet and make the cake.
I decided it would be easiest to go back and forth between pouring in ingredients. One of our 4-year olds started by pouring in the flour...
...and then the other poured in the rest of the dry ingredients. Do you see how the other supervises his brother so closely? In the pictures it looks like he is just interested in the cake making, but they were actually making sure the other only did one thing because it my turn now.
I let them both crack one egg each (a total of 4 went in the cake). I had them crack their eggs into a large measuring bowl so I could either discard the egg if it was completely destroyed or pick out any stray egg shells. Much to my surprise, neither preschooler exploded an egg on the counter and there were no egg shells in either bowl! They were so proud of themselves. To show them how to crack an egg, I cracked one egg into a measuring bowl myself. The tutorial was useful because when I initially handed them an egg, one of our 4-year olds asked me if you just squeeze the egg really hard to crack it.
Luckily only one of our 4-year olds wanted to turn on the mixer. The other thought it was a scary robot and did not want to start it up each time after adding the eggs.
I was going to let each of the preschoolers smooth out the cakes that I poured into the pans. However, one of them was only interested in the beater, so that left the job to this guy who took the duty quite seriously.
He took the job quite seriously until he realized there was cake batter on that spatula. Then he decided the cake was smooth enough.
I intended on having them help make the frosting for the cake, but by the time the cake cooled so had their interest in baking. I actually forgot to take a picture of the cake once it was finished (I was making dinner, finishing the cake, and dealing with a 1-year old who had been woken up from nap far too early by 4-year olds fighting over costumes). I did snap a picture on my Galaxy S5:
Baking with children is not always easy. I love having our boys help me in the kitchen though. I find that prepping the ingredients when cooking with our 4-year olds really helps, cutting down on the time that they have to wait in between "helping." I also like having ingredients separated in case of contamination (such as, not sticking their hands in my Tupperware container of sugar). Cooking with our (now) 7-year old is different; he enjoys prepping a lot of the ingredients himself, such as cutting vegetables, measuring ingredients, and operating small kitchen appliances. The biggest key to successfully cooking with children is
What are your tips for baking with little ones?