I was chatting to a friend at Snow White’s pre-school this morning about how annoying it is when your child wants to help with a task around the home. Because if you let them “help” the task takes twice as long, and you end up finishing it for them, or tidying the mess they made while doing it! Yet you truly want them to help, and to learn how to do it with skill and efficiency – which can only be learned through practice!
Following that I read this blog post during Bluebird’s nap. Combined with the urgent push factor of no cake left in the house for afternoon cake break, I thought I should set up a baking activity!
Snow White is a seasoned baker of cakes. She is quite skillful, and likes to weigh out the ingredients herself. However, if Bluebird was to join in, I knew I’d need my eyes on him, so it was easier in this case to give ready-weighed ingredients to both.
I decided to make two half-size recipes, and bake each in a 1-lb loaf tin. For Bluebird there was banana cake, and for Snow White, chocolate apple cake. I thought he would be able to have a go at banana-mashing and Snow White at apple grating.
It turned out that neither could really manage those tasks without help, but everything else they did. I realise that Snow White hardly ever does the mixing of ingredients herself – probably worn out from concentrating on weighing and measuring! Plus the recipe often calls for being well beaten, which I do by using the stand mixer. But today, she mixed thoroughly and beautifully by herself!
Bluebird has never done baking before. To be honest, I expected him to start by eating the banana, then pouring things everywhere but into the mixing bowl! He LOVES to pour, and can sometimes be found pouring the milk from his breakfast cereal between his bowl, mug and plate in a state of great bliss! Turns out that pouring practice had prepared him to complete this task with ease!
With each ingredient in turn he wanted to feel it – very delicately with just fingertip and thumb – and then poured it accurately into the mixing bowl. He did a little stirring as he went along, and then tried putting a hand in the mixture. I had to help him scrape down the dry flour from the sides, but he pretty much mixed it himself.
Transferring the mixture from bowl to loaf tin was the hardest part for both children. It was a little messy, but the cakes were soon in the oven, and baked in time for cake break at 3pm
If you’d like to try them, these are the recipes:
4 oz plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder
1.5 oz caster sugar
2 oz sunflower margarine
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract mixed in a tablespoon of milk
Chocolate apple cake
4.5 oz plain flour with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 oz cocoa powder
4 oz sunflower margarine
4.5 oz caster sugar
3 fl oz milk
1 apple, grated
For both these recipes, just mix everything well and turn into a greased, lined 1 lb loaf tin. Bake at 150 degrees C (fan oven), the banana cake for 45 minutes and the chocolate for just over an hour (that one yields more batter).
If you want a larger cake, double the quantities and use a 2 lb loaf tin, or a deep six-inch (banana) or seven-inch (chocolate) tin. You’ll need to bake those for longer.