Friday, November 15, 2013

Baking with my Boys

Sometimes it seems like every other mom but me is helping their preschool children paint, cut, glue, apply glitter, and sculpt. Oh, I've made several recipes of play-dough, and we have paper, crayons, pencil crayons, markers, scissors, and glue. (The glitter seems to have mysteriously disappeared.) But that's as far as it's gone for me. The boys take it (or do not take it) from there.

I've been feeling a bit less guilty about that since I've started reading Charlotte Mason (Let them play outside, she would say.). I've also begun to think about the things I do love to do with my hands. I am not devoid of creativity, even though I'm not that handy with paper and scissors. One of my favourite things to do is to bake. I don't usually get too fancy (I save my creativity for the flavours), but if I am going to be artistic, it will usually come out in my baking. I think that for me, this is going to be the arena of crafting creativity to explore first with my children.

Today we made Honey Cakes, from Cook it Together by Annabel Karmel.

First we made the cupcakes. I had the boys help me with everything they could do...measuring ingredients, dumping them in the bowl, mixing them together. When they had been baked and cooled, we made marzipan bees and flowers to decorate them.

SA "painted" most of the bees with chocolate (we used a Ziploc bag with a corner snipped off), and JJ helped me put the sliced almond wings on. They both helped with the sprinkles.

They were ready in time for our poetry teatime. Somehow the poetry wasn't keeping their interest as much today...

To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how often we will make things this special. We don't need to, though. All that needs to happen is that I take the time periodically to include the boys fully in my baking. It won't be a very efficient way to bake for me, but it will be an excellent way to teach them. I do love the Annabel Karmel book, not because I need it, but because ever since we brought it home from the library, the boys have been poring over it, deciding what to make. The illustrations show children making things, and they were very inspired.

Here is the recipe for the Honey Cakes. They were delicious...think cake that tastes like snickerdoodles with a hint of honey. The marzipan made them quite sweet, but the fun they had with it made it worth it this time.

Honey Cakes

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tbsp. honey
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp. apple sauce
2/3 cup self-rising flour (I just added 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt to the measuring cup before measuring the flour.)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger

7 oz marzipan
melted chocolate
slivered almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with 6 baking cups. Put the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Pour in the honey and beat everything together until fluffy.
2. In another bowl, beat the egg, vanilla, and apple sauce, then beat this into the butter mixture. Sift over the flour, cinnamon, and ginger.
3. Fold in the dry ingredients by running your spatula around the outside of the bowl and across the middle until everything is well mixed.
4. Fill the baking cups with the mixture. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until risen, golden, and firm to the touch. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
5. To make the bees, shape the heads and bodies from marzipan and gently squash them together so they stick. Cut out flower shapes.
6. Paint on the bees faces and stripes using melted chocolate. Push slivered almonds into the sides for wings. Press sprinkles into the flowers.


  1. I was thinking about creativity/artwork kind of things this week. Mostly because I was feeling inadequate. I was told that the library had good books for papercraft/artwork kinds of things but I've not had a chance to check them out yet though. The kids do bake with me fairly regularly and they love it. It's not usually as impressive as your honey cakes though (we've gotten that book from the library too). We made granola yesterday. W

    1. I think I'm coming to realize that it doesn't matter that much. The only reason you and I may feel inadequate when it comes to crafts is because it seems like everyone else is doing it. There is truly no reason at all why teaching our children a bit of cooking and baking, and possibly some knitting (if that's what we enjoy) is in any way less useful than paper crafts. I also agree with Charlotte Mason, who advocated for children to be outdoors as much as possible, and to play freely as much as possible. "The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children to invent their own games and occupations through the length of a summer's day is worth more in after life than a good deal of knowledge about cubes and hexagons, and this comes, not of continual intervention on the mother's part, but of much masterly inactivity." (Masterly inactivity is when you know what's going on, but you don't interfere too much, or interrupt too much with your organized crafts and contrived lessons.)
      Oh, and this "impressive" project is quite unusually complicated for us, too...they looked through the book and talked about it a lot, and I thought, "Why not?" So we did.

  2. I think it helps to make a mental list of what you actually do. I was feeling bad about not making play dough (since Katherine enjoys it so much in Sunday school) and then I realized that we play with real dough every Friday. Rolling pins, chocolate chips, and all. I'm much cooler than my pinterest. Even though my pins are really, really cool.

  3. Aww, these are great!
    Lilly is very impressed by the sprinkles.

    1. Nice. We never, ever have sprinkles here, so my boys were pretty excited about them too.