Having a day of fun baking with kids is something that can be tricky to get started with. However our “Ultimate Guide” is here to help. Packed full of useful tips and great recipes to help you decide what to bake with kids and get get them baking in the kitchen.
Baking with my kids is something that has brought me great joy over the years. I first started baking with my eldest when she was 3 years old, we made flapjacks. I heated up all the ingredients in the pan, while she greased the tin and stirred everything together.
We have enjoyed working in the kitchen together ever since. Now aged 15, she has become a better baker than I will ever be! She has a lightness of touch and suffers far less baking disasters than I do! Yes, despite being very competent in the kitchen, I too have disasters, that’s how we all learn!
I’m lucky that both of my kids enjoy being in the kitchen and are now quite independent, happily baking and cooking on their own. However, for many of us, the idea of baking with our kids is something we find daunting.
This often stems from the parent not having too much confidence when it comes to baking themselves. However, you don’t need to be baking anything overly complex, your kids just want to have a bit of fun. So we start by showing you some easy cakes to bake with kids.
Do I require any special baking kit?
This is one of the first questions I’m asked and the simple answer to this question is no, you don’t. Many people are put off by the belief that they require special kit and that’s simply not the case. Granted beating together butter and sugar is far easier with a stand mixer, but I didn’t get one of those until I was 40!
Here’s my basic kit list to get you started:
- large mixing bowl
- wooden spoon, spatula and a whisk
- cupcake tray and muffin tray
- flat baking tray with shallow sides for brownies
- couple of different sized cake tins – loaf tin, round and square cake tin
- wire cooling rack
- baking parchment
- properly fitted apron, as children will spill
TOP TIP! I also suggest buying a pair of proper fitting oven gloves that preferably cover their wrists as well as their hands. Often adult gloves are too big and this can lead to accidents as the child can’t feel what they are handling. Not ideal when taking hot tins out of a very hot oven!
What to bake with kids?
I’d recommend starting with some simple no bake recipes for kids. These recipes often involve heating up syrup or melting chocolate. Due to the element of heat, close supervision is required.
These type of no bake recipes are straightforward, throw some dry ingredients into a bowl, pour over something wet to make it all stick together and place into a tray to set. Think of the chocolate crispy cakes we all made as children.
The trick is not to over-complicate things, start with a recipe that doesn’t take too long to prepare. You want to keep their interest and most importantly, they’ll want to taste the results fairly soon afterwards.
Easy no-bake tray-bakes for kids:
Our Chocolate Tiffin, is one of the most popular recipes on our blog. This is due in no small part to its simplicity and lack of actual baking. This is the first recipe that I remember making as a child. The whole thing is set in the fridge and goes nowhere near an oven.
These Mars Bar Slices are a no-bake tray-bake that I loved to make as a child and still enjoy today. You can swap the Rice Krispies for some Cornflakes if you prefer and could even stir through some mini marshmallows.
Our Dark Chocolate & Ginger Tiffin is another great no bake recipe. This is a more grown up version of our Chocolate Tiffin. That said, it lasted no longer in my kitchen than the original. There’s enough sweetness from the syrup to make this a great option for kids who want to try something a little different.
What recipes are best for a first solo bake?
The next step in baking with kids is that once confident, they want to bake something entirely on their own. For this I would recommend a recipe that is quick and easy to prepare and doesn’t take too long to bake.
Our Custard Creams are a great recipe for this and the one I suggest to friends who’s children show an interest in baking. A simple case of making a dough, shaping the dough into small balls and baking, then filling with some butter icing.
Another straightforward recipe, is our Easy Chocolate Truffles. These truffles are less baking, more melt, combine and roll! You can coat them in cocoa powder, desiccated coconut or coloured sprinkles, whatever takes your fancy.
TOP TIP: The key to fun baking with kids is to keep the recipes straight forward, at least initially. Once they’ve mastered a few simple bakes, introduce them to more difficult recipes. The trick to building confidence in the kitchen is to increase the level of difficulty slowly, so that our children don’t feel overwhelmed. That only puts kids off!
Baking cookies with kids:
Once kids have mastered the simple melt and mix recipes, I like to start baking cookies with kids.
Cookie dough is very forgiving so it doesn’t matter if they’re a little too heavy handed as cookie dough needs a good mix to bring everything together. Cookie dough tends to cope with a degree of over handling and if the dough becomes too soft it can be popped in the fridge to harden a little before baking.
A favourite cookie recipe in our house are these Chocolate & Hazelnut Cookies. If you don’t like hazelnuts then leave them out or substitute for another nut. This easy cookie recipe is one of the most popular recipes on our site.
For some fun baking with kids over the festive holidays, try Michelle’s recipe for Spiced Christmas Cookies. These molasses cookies originate from her home in Canada, where they were baked by Michelle and her Mum every Christmas.
Easy tray-bakes for kids:
As the name suggests, tray-bakes are baked in one tray. Any decoration is usually added whilst the cake is still in the tray. This makes them easy to remove and cut into squares.
Another great recipe for a child’s first solo bake would be our Chocolate & Pecan Brownies. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients and pour straight onto a lined baking tray. After baking, allow to cool, before cutting into slices. Again, nuts have been added to this bake, however, can easily be left out if preferred.
Another great recipe is our Apricot, Almond & Honey Flapjacks, a deliciously chewy bake and one of my favourite recipes! This recipe can be easily adapted, swap the fruit and nuts for your own favourites, or leave an ingredients out if you prefer. Make them your own.
Easy loaf cakes for kids:
Our Easy Banana Bread is a great fun bake with kids. They love mashing up the bananas and mixing them through the cake batter. This is a very forgiving cake batter and can handle a little overworking if the kids are a bit heavy handed as it won’t deflate as much as much as a sponge cake would.
Our Easy Chocolate Loaf Cake is a deliciously dense and rich chocolate cake that is simple to bake as again dry ingredients are mixed through we ingredients. This is another recipe where the cake batter can be made into 18 Chocolate Muffins or 24 Chocolate Cupcakes, just make sure to reduce the bake time.
Our zesty Best Lemon Poppy Seed Cake is my favourite cake and a variation on a classic lemon drizzle cake. So if you prefer you can leave the poppy seeds out. Not only does this cake taste great, but you can adapt the recipe and make 12 Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins instead, just by cutting back on the cooking time.
Easy cakes to bake with kids:
When is comes to easy cakes to bake with kids a simple sponge cake is ideal. Once they learn the basic skills it is easy to build confidence in cake making.
Start with a simple sponge cake like our Victoria Sponge which uses the creaming method of beating together butter and sugar until light and fluffy before adding in the remaining ingredients. This recipe is then easily adapted to include other flavours like the Chocolate Victoria Sponge Cake shown here or the Orange Cake below.
Use a decorative bundt tin:
When it comes to fun baking with kids, I find that they love to play with different shapes and sizes of tin. Something as simple as a bundt tin can make all the difference. The cake cooks in exactly the same way, it’s just baked in a bundt tin rather than a regular circular, square or loaf tin.
Our Blood Orange Cake is really just a simple sponge cake with orange zest and juice added to the cake batter. However, we made this cake look more impressive by simply baking it in a bundt tin and drizzling over a little orange water icing. However, this cake can also be cooked in a regular round cake tin too.
How do I encourage older children to bake?
With older children, you want to keep them interested, so start to add a little complexity. Get them trying out new techniques, something they haven’t done before and explain why they need to do it this way. That will get them understanding the science behind baking and the need for accuracy.
Introducing a new baking technique:
The humble scone is something that on the face of it looks like a simple bake. However, I’ve eaten some terrible scones over the years, not my own I should add. Usually they are too dense and this is caused by being heavy handed.
Scones, like our Buttermilk Scones, require the flour, sugar, salt and butter to be rubbed together, before the wet ingredients are added and gently brought into a ball of dough.
Once you’ve mastered a scone, the flavour combinations are endless, Cheese Scones, Apple & Cinnamon Scones, Pumpkin Scones. The options for both sweet and savoury scones are never ending and it’s fun to experiment with different flavours. Furthermore, this simple method of rubbing in can then lead on to them venturing towards other recipes. For example making a fruit crumble or their own pastry!
Separating eggs and folding in whisked egg white:
Separating egg whites from the egg yolk, a great skill to teach. The egg whites are then whisked to soft peaks and folded gently into the cake batter. Folding in the egg white keeps the air in the cake batter for a lighter cake texture.
On the face of it Tweed Squares look like a simple tray-bake, and to some extent they are. However, this recipe requires the the egg whites to be gently folded through the cake batter. This is not a cake to start off baking with young children, but a great bake for older children to introduce these important techniques.
Piping & decorating cakes:
Children love to play with piping bags and nozzles and enjoy decorating cakes and cookies. A pour over drizzle icing is an easy place to start, before moving onto piping butter icing.
Cupcakes are always great for trying out piping, adding a simple swirl of butter icing on top. I like to add some simple sweets to the mix for decorating the top of cakes, chocolate buttons, jelly sweets and sprinkles are ideal. Allow them to play and get creative!
Muffins are great fun baking with kids, they like to make the muffin cake batter and fill the paper tray liners. These Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins have a streusel topping, but you could also pipe on some chocolate butter icing. Don’t worry if they make a mess, it’s all part of the fun and they’ll taste just as good.
However, a great recipe for practising skills with a piping bag is our Melting Moments. Lovely light biscuits, that are easy to bake, with a cooked filling, rather than a butter icing. The dough holds it’s shape well making it ideal for piping onto the baking tray and practicing this skill.
Pastry making is a real skill and one which can be tricky to master. However, I recommend starting off with a simple sweet shortcrust pastry, it’s a great place to start.
Our Plum & Almond Galette marries the flavours of sweet plums with frangipane. However, this recipe is a great bake for introducing children to pastry making. The pastry is made, chilled to rest it, then rolled out into a circle. The frangipane and plums are then added to the top and the pastry is folded back over to form a crust. No need for the added complication of lining a pie dish, instead the pastry is place on a baking sheet. This is a great place to start with pastry.
Experimenting with flavours:
Older children are often more keen to experiment with different flavours as their palette develops. At this stage I like to introduce some spice to the bakes that my children make.
Our Ginger & Chilli Biscuits have a lovely hit of chilli. The kids do add less chilli so adapt the spicing to suit their tastes. However, this is one of the most popular recipes on our website. So, clearly I’m not alone in my love of this spiced bake! You can omit the chilli and just add ginger and you’ll be left with a great tasting ginger cookie.
Top 5 tips for having fun baking with kids?
- PLAN: This might sound obvious, however, make sure you know what you are doing and have everything bought in advance. There is nothing worse than starting a recipe, only to find half way that you are missing a key ingredient.
- EXPLAIN THE RECIPE: Take time to talk them through the recipe, explaining each step. If the child is old enough to read get them to read along with you. Always encourage them to ask any questions, that’s how they learn. If you take the time to teach a methodical approach it will pay dividends in the years to come when you let them loose on their own.
- TALK ABOUT FOOD HYGIENE: Talk to your children about the importance of good food hygiene. Get them to thoroughly wash their hands before starting, tie up long hair and get them into the habit of wearing an apron.
- ALLOW THEM TO MAKE A MESS: Mess is a given! If you want kids to get involved in the kitchen, accept that they will make a mess! They will drop things, they will break eggs and miss the bowl, things will spill over. Go with the mess!
- GET THEM TO HELP WITH THE TIDYING UP: Get your kids to help with the clearing up afterwards. By allowing my children freedom to play in my kitchen, I now have kids who will go bake a cake and clear up afterwards, without me having to lift a finger!
Why it’s important for our kids to be confident in the kitchen:
- PRACTICAL MATHS: Baking helps children understand practical maths and understanding technical instructions. Measuring and weighing out ingredients allows them to get to grips with quantities and volume. When they understand the numbers, you can start getting them to double or triple up recipes, great practice with their times tables!
- IT’S A LIFE SKILL: Baking is great as it allows your child to become more confident in the kitchen. This confidence will grow and often leads from baking to cooking. If they start helping out with cooking family meals, this will eventually lead to them cooking for themselves.
- AN UNDERSTANDING OF NUTRITION: As well as producing food, it also allows you to have an easy discussion with your children around nutrition. Explaining the importance of feeding their bodies the right food. Encourage them to make sensible food choices as they work alongside you.
I hope that our “Ultimate Guide to Baking with Kids” has encouraged you to start baking with your kids. Remember, keep it simple and don’t run out an buy expensive or special kit.
So lose the fear and get your kids in the kitchen, you will be very happy that you did.