Baking basics

It’s Christmas baking time again!  My daughter is really interested in baking at the moment, so this year I’m going to have some help in the kitchen.  I’ll admit that I am probably not the most qualified person to teach her the many tips and trick of baking, but that is where the internet comes in.  I have been able to find a variety of videos and websites by people who actually know what they’re doing and can give my daughter (and me) the guidance we need in the kitchen.

I would be lying to say that I love cooking and baking, but the reality is that they are necessary life skills.  When you think about it in more practical terms, cooking can actually teach children many skills such as organization, mathematics, following instructions and hygiene.  Even more importantly, teach them now and, one day, your children can take over the cooking (hurray!).  Your children don’t need to become the next Martha Stewart, but they should at least be well-versed in baking basics (this applies to both girls and boys).

Let’s start with something that you’re likely to run across this holiday season.  When making cookies and cakes, you are often instructed to “cream the butter and sugar”.  To the experienced baker, this is immediately understood, but to the novice, further instruction is required.   The first thing to know about this task is that the butter must be ‘softened’ before it can be creamed with the sugar.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t always remember to leave the butter out overnight so that it’s at room temperature, so I generally have to count on a few ‘tricks’ to soften the butter quickly.  This video does a great job of demonstrating four quick and easy ways to soften butter.

See this video on YouTube.

Once the butter is softened, it’s time to add the sugar and cream them together.  It is possible to perform this step with an electric mixer, but I typically just do it by hand (why create more dishes to wash?).  Also, when my daughter goes out on her own one day, she may not have all of the ‘modern conveniences’ right away, so it’s a good idea that she knows how to do as much as possible by hand (I’m pretty confident that she will at least own a spoon).

Check out this quick video demonstrating how to cream butter and sugar (Tanya also does a good job of briefly explaining when and why one would cream these two items together).

Click here to view this video on YouTube.

Like most areas of life, cooking and baking have their own vocabulary to be deciphered.  However, if we want to raise children who can live independently (and who can help us in the kitchen!), then we would be wise to teach them the basics.

If you’re interested in teaching your child how to be more self-reliant, you may wish to read my posts on Stop a nosebleed and Dealing with nightmares.