The benefits of traditional baking with mother
This week my girls and I reveled in some traditional home baking. We made gingerbread. Oh how wonderful it was to do something so familiar and comforting and wonderfully homely. I’d like to celebrate that now. It just happened to be the perfect solution to all our wants and needs on that day.
Whilst making the most of a long awaited ‘home’ day with my girls, M asked if we could make something in the kitchen. “Yes!” I leapt out of my seat “YES! What shall we make” My enthusiasm was due to the fact that I am always asking the girls if they want to cook so that I can practice new recipes with them, or photograph them for my website, so actually, they are not usually that excited by the prospect even though they usually really enjoy themselves once they get going, I guess the novelty has worn off.
Today M’s recipe of choice was Gingerbread men. I bit my “Make with Kate” tongue and sat on my hands, I wanted just to enjoy doing something nice with my girl, ‘just because’ with no other added agenda. So I put the recipe on my laptop screen and M started to get out the ingredients and confidently weighed out the flour, sugar and fat.
You could hear a pin drop
Later when the biscuits were cooked H came to join us with icing the biscuits. I was blown away by the outcomes, they had really improved their technique from last time (probably about a year ago). So yes, at this stage I conveniently forgot the ‘just because’ intention and got out my camera to photograph the results. I loved seeing the concentration on both girls faces, and listening to the unusual silence that accompanied the painstaking decoration process. This was a real feel good moment.
Why you should do it today
Here’s why I think making gingerbread men with your children is super good!
As well as being a sweet treat, gingerbread men must be praised because the process of making and decorating involves spending valuable time together.
Good quality ingredients
The ingredients that go into the biscuits are completely within your control. There are no added nasties to make the biscuits last longer, look better, hold together better, more crisp etc. You can include wholemeal flour, free range eggs etc according to your personal preferences / needs.
Nutritional education (you didn’t think I’d actually leave this out did you?
When you make treats yourself, your children can appreciate for themselves just how much sugar and fat goes into biscuits and later on they will be able to make informed decisions about how many they want to / should eat.
M practiced weighing out the ingredients independently. There are loads of ways you can include numeracy in your baking time with your children, but that’s a whole other blog post.
Following instructions – M read the recipe herself and I assisted where necessary. There are many technical words in recipes and these can be a challenge to children, but here’s a good opportunity for you to start to demystify the world of baking for your child so that in later life they feel competent and confident about using recipes.
On this occasion M asked questions about the jobs that different ingredients do and why we were using them in this recipe. E.g. bicarbonate of soda. The more you cook, and talk and ask questions the more they will pick up, sometimes subconsciously.
Improves handwriting (fine motor) skills
Icing the biscuits is an excellent way of practicing fine motor control skills, especially for children who struggle with handwriting. We made our own mini piping bags from greaseproof paper and cut a tiny nozzle. The girls had to concentrate really hard to get the designs they wanted. Their outcomes were so much improved from last year, it was really exciting to see.
I’d love for you to enjoy this experience with your little ones and so I’ve put together this downloadable recipe sheet for gingerbread men. Enjoy!