The holidays are quickly approaching at what feels like break neck speed. Amidst the planning, purchasing, crafting, giving, donating, and decorating craziness I also like to add the joy of holiday baking with our girls into the mix (pun intended). There are so many benefits to having your little ones join you in the kitchen for some holiday baking fun.
Now let’s keep it real for a second, having your minions around eggs, knives, flour and mess is not my idea of rest and relaxation. At first I shied away from the whole ordeal because my Type A style did not welcome sticky hands all over my kitchen. However, like with most areas of my parenting journey I have learned to embrace (and semi control) the mess to make priceless memories with my girls. So grab an apron and join me in the kitchen for some easy tips on how to have your kids help with baking this holiday season without turning into a Mommy Grinch in the process.
Keep it simple
This is not the time to break out Martha Stewart’s recipe for chocolate croissants. While tasty, buttery, flaky and delicious, this 24 million step recipe with mucho waiting time between steps, is not exactly toddler friendly. Some of our fav easy peasy recipes include simple brownies, blondies, rice Krispy treats, and apple crisp.
Apple crisp is a great first timer recipe because it does require eggs (which my children always insist on breaking themselves) and you don’t need to measure. Just dump some butter, flour, sugar, oats, and seasoning into a bowl and MIX with your hands and sprinkle over cut up apples and bake. Viola…Your house now smells like William Sonoma on cinnamini steroids.
Also, I find “bar” recipes such as blondies and brownies way easier than cookies. Lastly, embrace your friends in the baking aisle Betty and Dunkin, there ain’t no shame in baking from a box.
Timing is everything
This is another tip that applies to all of parenting. You want to time your baking to avoid hanger (when your child is hungry and angry), tired, or cranky. So basically, you are thinking NEVER. But I have found two very small windows of baking time that works with my girls. One is 10:00 in the morning. After the girls, have had breakfast and they are in their morning happiness zones is a great time to break out the Kitchenaid and whip something up. This also allows you ample time to bake and clean up before lunch prep.
Another time is 2:00pm or early afternoon. Here is how it works. You pray to the nap gods and cross your fingers and toes that your under the age of three minions are taking their glorious afternoon nap. During that precious and precise moment go into the kitchen and bust your butt to prep the recipe… pre-measure, and cut ingredients with sharp knives. Now that my older daughter dropped her nap (we are still grieving this) she can help with the prep. This fun filled scenario can best be illustrated by the one very very stress inducing messy recipe I only do once a year… iced sugar cookies. This holiday classic is baked to homemade sugary success in our house by prepping and chilling the dough with the older child and ONLY when the little one wakes up do we ice the cookies with more sugar, and food coloring for good measure. One more thing, avoid baking with children from the hours of 5pm to 8pm.
Mostly because the girls look adorbs wearing aprons and I am a big believer that looking the part is half the battle. This is what I tell my husband about my golf game. There is also a very nostalgic sentimental reason for this imperative tradition of apron wearing since my Noni, my great grandma, hand sewed the aprons for me when I was little. Lastly, cooking is messy and we don’t need to add to the mount Everest of exponentially growing laundry pile.
The gift is in the Giving
We love to bake. During the holiday season (which I define as Nov 1 to Jan 1) we bake ALL.THE.TIME. Now, I am also slightly obsessed with healthy eating and minimizing the number of empty calories we consume. We are big believers in moderation, so we obtain this goal by donating or giving away many of our holiday sweets. The girls adore creating crafty baskets of yummy treats and leaving them with unassuming neighbors, the local fire department, and our good friend that just had baby number three. We are all about the fun surprise element of leaving the goodies on the stoop and driving away.
I had mentioned earlier that the kiddos love to crack eggs. Now I am all about the sensory play, but I draw the line at semolina spreading eggy goo. I have implored a couple of tired and true mommy techniques to combat this issue. When we first started baking together I told them that there was a grownup up egg rule; same goes for hot stove and sharp knives… you can look but DON’T Touch. Then my best friend who I love dearly, but has way more tolerance and patience for kitchen chaos let the girls crack eggs at her house. My gig was up. Now I take a deep breath and pray that all goes well. You can easily “fish” out egg shells by slightly wetting your finger with water. Also break the eggs into a separate bowl and then add them to your batter.
Don’t forget to keep the camera close and ready. Baking is a great time to snap some classic photos.
In need of some great recipes? Check out last year’s FCMB virtual cookie swap!
Do you like to bake for the holidays with your kids? What are your favorite holiday recipes?