Building Strong Families By Reviving Baking Day
Baking day conjures ideas of ladies in long dresses cooking in an insufferably hot kitchen heated by a fireplace, am I right? You’re a busy parent, maybe working (and possibly more than one job), with a family to feed, and you think I have lost my marbles. You’re just trying to get food on the table, something reasonably nutritious that they will eat, and here I am suggesting that you should spend some of your very limited free time baking, of all things.
Here’s why you should consider it:
- Baking helps reinforce reading and math concepts.
- Baking with your children provides them with a valuable skill that many adults do not possess today, and prepares them for the time when they will God-willing move out, and live on their own (just not too soon, they’re growing up so fast!).
- Baking provides children with an opportunity to learn a new skill and take pride in their work (yeast doughs are finicky and take practice!).
- Children that help prepare food are more likely to try it (take that picky eaters!).
- Most importantly, our lives are very, ridiculously busy, and sharing time in the kitchen together gives us an opportunity to really chat with our loved ones and create cherished memories.
Here’s how you can accomplish it, without losing your sanity:
- Plan ahead. For the first few Baking Days, I suggest picking one recipe together. Later on, you can figure out how to manage multiple baked goods at the same time (see below).
- Give the children the responsibility for checking to make sure the ingredients are in the pantry, and for helping to make sure what isn’t is purchased on the next shopping trip.
- When Baking Day finally arrives, involve the children as they are able at an age appropriate level. For example, my toddler can dump ingredients into the mixing bowl and stir, my five year old can watch the timer and the baked goods through the oven glass to check for premature browning, and my 7 year old can read directions.
- Talk to your kids, and really listen to what they have to say. Try not to jump in and finish their thought or rush them through. It’s amazing how chatty kids can be, if you just listen.
- Enjoy the baked good, and if it was a flop, well, you’re in good company. We’ve had many flops at house, but we keep on baking.
- Plan again for the following week, and keep it as a special time where your family is together. I’m sure even the spouse will get involved, in taste testing, or as we refer to it in our house, “I need a guinea pig, any volunteers?”
How I schedule my baking days:
Let me preface this by saying that I really enjoy baking. I vividly remember baking with my mother as a child, as well as the time my dear dad baked a horrific flop of a cake with me for Brownies. I build memories with my kids by baking with them, and we practice fractions, reading directions carefully, and laugh. Most of all, we have fun, a lot of it.
When I bake, I usually break it into two parts, stuff the kids can do, and stuff that they can’t. I also plan my yeast based recipes to go in the fridge for an overnight rise. They are baked the following morning, which allows me the luxury of not being tied to my kitchen while I wait for the second rise and for the item to bake. No thanks, I don’t have the patience for that!
- What do we need? In our house, at least one double batch of yeast rolls, waffles, sometimes cinnamon rolls, muffins, and some type of sweet dessert.
- I make the yeast doughs and set them aside to rise.
- I start making waffles. I have a single waffle iron and will be making waffles for what feels like forever, even as I am cleaning the kitchen after everything else is done. It takes a while, but I’m saving a ton of money and making really healthy waffles!
- Muffins are fast, so they’re next.
- Time to shape the yeast dough. Shape the dinner rolls, butter/sugar/roll/cut the cinnamon rolls, cover them in their respective baking pans, and put them in the fridge overnight.
- Make the sweet dessert.
My kids don’t usually sit patiently through all of the items we make. However, they will help read at least one recipe, help with dumping ingredients and stirring multiple recipes, absolutely love shaping yeast rolls, as well as slathering yeast dough with butter and cinnamon sugar. So they’re involved, and each week they get a little better at shaping, or remembering all the abbreviations and the fractions. They are also excellent taste testers.
Most of all, they like spending time with us that doesn’t technically involve schoolwork and where they get to pepper us with all the questions that little kids have. But most of all, they get to spend quality time with us, and they know that they’re loved. It doesn’t matter if you’re making cinnamon rolls from a can, a cake mix from a box, or all of it from scratch – you’re building memories and a stronger family for it.
I hope that you consider reviving Baking Day!