Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Unpoliced baking


I don't think I've shown you this apron that I made for my daughter last year. She picked the fabrics out herself and they're both from very old Anna Maria Horner fabric lines, Chocolate Lollipop, I think, which makes them an appropriate choice for an apron. The design was created as I went along with a heavily gathered bib and a skirt with a large inverted pleat. She loves wearing it and has requested a dress of an identical design,which may or may not happen before summer has ended. I made one for my son too (not photographed here) from Joel Dewberry fabrics...no gathers or pleats.


Last week I typed out very detailed instructions for making a Victoria Sponge cake and then abandoned my children in the kitchen for everything but taking the cake in and out of the oven. I love baking with them, but it tends to bring out the control freak in me, incapable of not hovering helicopter-style over them full of 'helpful suggestions' as they crack eggs and cream butter and sugar together. It suddenly occurred to me that they may really enjoy the sensation of baking entirely under their own steam, making their own mistakes unwatched and uncorrected by me.


So I took myself off to another room and heard giggling, happy baking sounds and cakey aromas drifting through from the kitchen. And when I reappeared after an hour the kitchen was spotless and the mixing bowl had been licked clean (for both of these activities had been itemised on the instruction sheet!). My daughter served us each a slice of cake after tea that evening and my husband declared it to be the best cake he'd ever tasted. When he later found my instruction sheet in the utility room it produced much merriment and teasing though, as he noted a strong tendency to encourage tidying up as they went along...something which I have never managed in the kitchen myself.

Florence x

8 comments:

  1. What a great idea, I might try this with mine (3 boys), although I think the tidying bit will get ignored!

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  2. You are very wise doing this for your children. I too am a control freak and perfectionist in the kitchen. Ironically I learnt from my mother who is just the opposite - I was able to wallow with my arms in flour to my hearts content. I even had to muscle in on the fairy cake icing to make it just so, which was ludicrous. Well, the result is my grown up daughter cannot cook a thing. Admittedly she was not that interested as a little girl, but some interest was there. She blames me and says I made her nervous, which I know is true and is a shame as she has missed out on important skills. I still don't think it is too late and in fact I would do just what you did and then disappear. I think also with me the pennies were tight, so it DID matter if the ingredients were messed up. Your children's cake looks superb, you obviously gave marvellous instructions. Did they mix it by hand or use a mixer? We learnt both ways.

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  3. A party of 5 - it's odd though - I think if the tidying is written into the instructions, it just feels like part of the cake-baking.

    Anonymous - thank you so much for your comment - that's really interesting. The unwitting mistakes we make are painful in retrospect, aren't they, but if a small icing misdemeanor is being held against you and remembered it sounds as though you must have done a fairly wonderful job overall.

    They did it by hand - they should learn to use the mixer to do it too, but I have funny ideas about the stirring by hand adding to to the taste of the cake because of the care taken. Oddly, I don't have the same ideas about making a lasagne, so they're used to grating carrot in there! There's no particular logic to this, as I'm not sure why cakes should have more care poured into them than a lasagne...

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  4. My horror that my 18 month old wanted to help with the housework was swiftly sedated when I realised how handy it was. As long as she's safe it's actually quite helpful and fun. When she wants to take over cooking I'll encourage that too. ;) I know it won't last long when she hits her teens Lol

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  5. What fun! Tell your husband the trick is for HIM to tidy up as YOU go along. That's what my boyfriend's resorted to - although it does sometimes get out of hand and he starts putting things back in the fridge before I've used them or washing up the wooden spoon I'm still using...

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  6. Your children have done well if the sponge in the photo is the outcome. I definitely helicopter and I've also found it safest to step well away so that my two girls have the freedom to learn. Mostly it works very well to do that but I think it might be peculiar to cooking. If I step away from craft or the sewing projects and leave them to it they tend to get stuck and frustrated and then no one is having any fun!

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  7. Hee hee, lets hope not too many of the giggles were from dropping the mixing spoon on the dog or spilling some mixture down the back of the drawers to catch the unwary in 3 years time ;o)

    Glad you all enjoyed it anyway

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  8. On my gosh, you're my twin! I'm talking about ruining the kids cooking experience by hovering and criticizing and freaking out ... thanks for teaching me a better way to do this. :)

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I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x