My 4 year old son is taking an increasing interest in what goes on in the kitchen, and I have been struggling with how to encourage this. I’m not the most confident person in the kitchen and my general clumsiness plus lots of sharp and/or hot things didn’t seem like the best mix with curious fingers. And then it hit me…. Let’s bake some bread! So a chair was fetched from the dining room, a bowl, jug and some scales were assembled and off we went.
Baking bread has everything that my little lad is interested in. First of all we used the scales and called out the numbers as they got close to the target. I like to weigh out all the ingredients, even the water as I find I get better results that way. When we poured the flour into a big bowl, he loved running some through his fingers and studying the ‘bits’ (We were using Allinson Country Grain), asking what they were. He also had a go at rubbing the butter into a little flour, but decided that he didn’t want to help with the mixing as it was all ‘a bit sticky’. I tend to rub the butter and mix with only one hand and that really came into its own on this occasion as the inevitable call for a cup of juice could be answered with the clean hand so I didn’t hand my son a doughy cup!
By the time the cup was empty it was time to knead. After a minute of watching, my son wanted to have a go so I broke of a small chunk for him to push about on the worktop. Of course it ended up on the floor, with much giggling about how it went ‘Splat’ so he wanted some more, but after 3 or 4 small balls the dough was ready to rest. We split what was left into balls and put the towel over it together. After an hour building train track he was amazed how it changed and then he kept coming back to the kitchen peering through the oven door (reminding me of a cleaning job I’ve been putting off!) to see how the shape and colour changed in the oven.
As kids do, he then moved on to the next exciting thing to do (usually lego, or turning sofa cushions into a den) but I’m pretty sure that when I pointed out later, that he had helped make the roll he was eating, it made his lunch taste that little bit better. It certainly did for me!