Summer Holidays Cooking with Kids – The Non-Instagram Version
Social media is full of images of serene mothers baking with their children. Isn’t it lovely to see this maternal bonding, the passing on of baking wisdom and the partaking of a wholesome activity that doesn’t involve Netflix or iPads?
I’m going to tell you a shameful secret. I don’t enjoy baking with my children.
I enjoy cooking and creating recipes in a calm, organised kitchen. I like to wash up as I go along, wipe down surfaces and take my time – FYI I’m not like this in other areas of my life, the rest of the house is a tip. But in the kitchen, I am clean, tidy and serene.
Enter one small, innocent looking seven-year-old girl (MissN) and suddenly this baking tranquillity vanishes. First is the endless barrage of questions …. Mummy why is your food processor cracked down the middle? Mummy can I lick this? What’s this? And what’s this? Mummy what’s next? And what do we put in next? And what do we do next????
Next there is the ‘helping’. Obviously, you can’t cook with a child without letting said child do some actual cooking (although that would be my preferred option). And so MissN did the stirring, regardless of whether stirring was required. MissN knew better than me and so the eggs were stirred, the ground almonds were stirred, the carrots were stirred and the coconut oil was stirred. MissN likes stirring, but not in a nice controlled manner, oh no! MissN’s stirring involves violently whipping the spoon in and out of the bowl so that whatever is being stirred flies out and hits whatever is closest (floor, table, my face).
Then there is the breaking of eggs, MissN’s favourite part of baking. MissN does not believe me when I tell her that breaking eggs is quite difficult so she rushes to show me that I am wrong. In her haste she smashes the first egg off the side of our mixing bowl so that the whole egg ends up in the bowl, shell and all. I tip it in the bin and we start again. I’m not allowed to help with the breaking of eggs so after all of the eggs are broken, I spend the next 15 minutes trying to fish the bits of egg shell out of the bowl while MissN triumphantly goes back to stirring.
Then there is the shouting …. that’s my job. “Don’t touch that it’s hot!”, “stop licking that spoon those eggs are raw!”, “that’s hot, stop trying to touch it!”, “don’t eat that”, “stop licking things!!”, “what are you stirring now?!”.
We finally manage to get everything into the mixing bowl together. MissN says the mix looks ‘disgusting’. I tell her it will all be lovely when its cooked, although I am beginning to seriously doubt it. This is a gluten-free, dairy-free carrot cake to accommodate MissN’s intolerance. Instead of wheat flour, I’ve used a half and half blend of gluten-free flour and ground almonds for a protein-boost. I’m using The Free-From Fairy’s Wholemeal Gluten-Free Flour in this recipe, although you could sub for any gluten-free flour, or wholemeal wheat or spelt flour if you tolerate gluten. I’ve also added more maple syrup than I would usually, because the children have told me that the last few cakes I’ve made haven’t been sweet enough.
We put the cake in the oven and I clean up the mess. There is cake mix on the floor, on the chairs and on the ceiling. MissN sits and watches the oven, despite me telling her that it will take 40 minutes to cook.
When our spiced carrot cake comes out of the oven it smells amazing.
We don’t really let it cool, just take a quick photo and then I cut us slices. And it is lovely! Tasty, sweet and light. Moist enough not to need a cheese frosting, although of course you could put one on. And most importantly, MissN loved it too. And as we sit and stuff our faces with the cake that we just made together, and I surreptitiously spit out tiny bits of egg shell, I suddenly remember that I do like cooking with my children after all.
24th June 2017
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