The Joy of Baking with My Toddler

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I Come From a Family of Bakers

I have fond memories of baking with my mother and grandmother. My mother has fond memories of baking with her grandmother. My grandmother has memories baking with her grandmother etc. Since we’re from the Midwest, we pride ourselves on the baked goods we produce. “We love you-here take these homemade cookies!”  “You’re sad- I whipped up a pie!”

Not saying this is purely a Midwest thing, but I will say we love our simple no-frills desserts and we bake them with love. My Great Grandmother made hot milk cake for everyone’s birthday and it’s such a sense memory for my family. Again, a simple cake with a simple frosting that just takes everyone back. I’ve tried to be fancier with my desserts and my piping is atrocious. I will pay a professional to do that. One of my girlfriends freelances cakes for events and she said: “Even if you know the person, always pay at least three times what you think it should be.” Again, a skill set I have not mastered. However, if you want from scratch brownies cause it’s a Tuesday in an 8 x 8 pan-I’m your lady!

Baking with KidsThe Next Generation

I successfully made homemade cinnamon rolls for Christmas brunch this year. That is more time consuming than one would think but man…is the reward worth it. I realized I had all this yeast that I wasn’t using and I should take advantage of it. On a particularly rainy day, I just thought “Let’s bake some bread.” I found a super simple Amish White Bread recipe on All Recipes and I had my mother and toddler help me with the baking process. It seems counter-intuitive to have a toddler help cook and I’ve heard get a small bowl for them in case they sneeze (good call) but I love it and he does too. He’ll pull up a chair and say “I help mommy cook” and I let him dump the ingredients in. Bread is an ideal thing to make with a toddler for a bunch of reasons.

  1. It’s simple-ish. Anyone, who has worked with yeast can tell you it’s a tricky world and things can go sideways in a minute. I did the yeast part myself. I made sure the water was the right temperature and had my son pour it in the bowl.
  2. The sheer amount of cups of flour helps you teach them how to count. My son loves counting and this way it controls him from dumping too much in and he learns too.
  3. Seeing the stand mixer. I have a stand mixer and my son was mesmerized by the hook attachment kneading the bread. This was where the most adult supervision was needed because he kept on trying to take off the part of the mixer where you can add attachments and the bowl was shaking.
  4. Painting. We got out a pastry brush and painted the bread with vegetable oil as we let it prove. This was a simple motion that my son loved doing.
  5. There’s a time-lapse. The whole time it took to make the dough, knead it, and prove it was about 15 minutes. So we had an hour and a half to do other things while the bread proved. This way he didn’t get overwhelmed with the task or bored.
  6. Kneading. Making bread is incredibly tactile so my son and my mother took turns kneading the bread and counting how long they did it. He loved being able to touch the dough. Obviously, wash their hands before all of it but it was a great thing to do.
  7. After my mother formed the loaves and we put them in the oven for baking, I got to turn on the oven light to show my son what was baking and he said “Wow!” He’s very aware of when he helps cook and is usually proud of what he makes.

Three Generations Baking in the Kitchen

It was a really special afternoon baking with two of my favorite people. There were no knives, eggs, or sprinkles (sprinkles are the glitter of the baking world.) The cleanup was easy. The memories were incredible and we got to spend quality time together as a family. My mom loved teaching my son how to knead bread. My husband came home from errands and the whole house smelled like fresh-baked bread. It tasted delicious with butter and jam. It was just a lovely memory for all of us. We’re still figuring out everything my son can do and he’s still surprising us with how capable he is. We’re finding out the more we include him in things, the happier we all are. We plan on making bread this weekend.

 

 

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Alison is an Air Force brat, who was born in Wisconsin (and she still visits there often to see extended family) and lived all over the West before her family settled in the Dayton area. Alison received her BA from Bowling Green State University where she met her husband, best friends who are like family, and worked at her college radio station. If there was a cool band in the mid aughts, chances are Alison played them on her show "My Aim is True." Alison received her MLIS from the University of Wisconsin and moved back to southwest Ohio. She reconnected with her now husband Mark and moved to Columbus a year later. Several years later, she is still working at Nationwide Children's Hospital as a medical librarian and they have a little boy named Rhys and two feisty cats. They are enjoying re-discovering Columbus as parents and enjoy what the city has to offer in the food, music, and art scene. Alison enjoys fashion, cult movies and tv shows, discovering new music and meticulously keeping track of it in various journals, BBC crime dramas, SCIENCE, reading all kinds of books, and cooking. Alison has her own personal blog about her life and things she finds interesting at www.radiancereflected.com. She loves to write and hope you enjoy her vignettes about motherhood and this fair city.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I love this! I’ve wanted to try baking with my toddler (he’s 2.5), but I fear it will be a giant chaotic mess haha. Maybe now that we’re stuck at home for the foreseeable future, we’ll try it. Thanks for the encouragement!

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