Dear Father Hood: is baking with a two-year-old a good idea?
Rain can do strange things to a parent. Take this afternoon, for example. Originally, I’d planned to take the bubster on the choo-choo train to London. But when the puddles became mini-lakes and the persistent drizzle reached its sixth hour, I decided it might be wise to come up something a little more “indoorsy”.
I considered all the fantastic ideas I’ve mentioned in this piece about surviving rainy days. And then I did something that no-one could have expected. I, a person with zero cake-making experience (bar an unintentionally sugar-free cheesecake that I don’t like to talk about), decided that I was going to risk life, limb and our recently done up kitchen by baking with a two-year-old.
Once we’d donned our aprons, taken every conceivable cake tin out of the cupboards and looked up the difference between normal sugar and caster sugar, it was time to get down to business. At this point, three things swiftly became apparent.
- We didn’t have the necessary ingredients.
- We didn’t have the necessary utensils.
- We didn’t have the necessary attention spans.
We solved issue one with a quick-ish trip to Tesco (ish added due to the number of times the bubster went up and down the escalator). We solved issue two by resolving to muddle through with the stuff we did have. And we solved issue three by agreeing to a) lick the mixing bowl on a regular basis and b) have as many scooter riding breaks as we wanted.
In the mix
Problems solved, we rolled up our sleeves and got baking. So how did it go? Well, I would tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Just kidding. Here’s what I learned.
1. There’s a reason everyone on telly uses an electric whisk
It’s because hand whisking is a massive hassle that’s multiplied by around 1,000 when you’re sharing the mixing bowl with a two-year-old who wants to swap whisks every 7.2 seconds and stick his hand in the mixture (and then on the walls) every 2.1 seconds.
2. There’s a reason why no-one on telly has a kid’s scooter in their kitchen
It’s because said scooter is the fastest and most effective way for a toddler to distribute cake mix all over your house. Still, I can laugh about it now, right? Wrong. It’s still way too soon.
3. Cupcake holders are a great distraction
After 10 minutes of graft, our mixture was bumpy and the bubster was bored. I needed a distraction and it came in the form of cupcake holders. Making a dozen or so cupcakes in addition to our, ahem, “spectacular” vanilla sponge was not part of the initial plan. But placing the cases in the baking tray and filling them with our mix kept my little man occupied for just about long enough to allow me to get rid of the lumps of butter that were sitting in our bowl.
4. The oven in the kid’s kitchen you get from IKEA doesn’t actually work
I knew this, obviously. But the fact my son’s batch of cupcakes were still an uncooked gooey mess when the timer went off appeared to take him by surprise.
5. Make sure the eggs are out of your kid’s reach
Unless, of course, your kid is better at juggling that mine is.
6. The journey is more important that the destination
In other words, if your final cake tastes good, great. If it doesn’t, who cares? Baking with a two-year-old is far more about having fun with your kid than whipping up a Victoria sponge that’d have Paul Hollywood drooling. Although, for the record, I would like to make it known that while our cupcakes were terrible, our cake was actually quite nice.
7. Toddlers are really obsessed with cutting cakes
And by cutting, I essentially mean mushing into oblivion.
Beep. Beep. Timer done. Cake done. Post done. See you next time.
P.S. In case the above doesn’t spell it out clearly enough. Yes, baking with a two-year-old is a good idea.