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Why It’s OK To Bake Cakes & Biscuits With Your Kids

Childhood obesity and the associated long term health risks are a growing concern and dominate the headlines. According to NHS statistics in 2012 up to 37.8% of 11-15 year old boys and 36.7% of 11 – 15 year old girls were reported as being overweight or obese.

In the Food and Nutrition segment of the new curriculum the emphasis is on teaching children how to cook and prepare meals and savoury dishes from scratch. The focus on learning the principles of what makes a healthy diet, food provenance, seasonality and how to cook nutritious meals is of course a fantastic development, welcomed by parents and teachers alike.

Does this mean that the days of donning an apron and baking cakes, biscuits and sweet treats with your children are over?

Well no! In fact at Cookify we believe that is more important than ever to bake cakes with your kids and here’s why!

Firstly here’s a recipe for Melting Moments. This is a great one to share with children as there are lots of fun cooking activities – whisking, spooning, sieving, mixing, rolling and decorating – which can all be performed in relatively short time. It’s something I remember cooking with my Mum back in the day and the crumbly melty biscuits can be eaten as an after school snack, or for dessert and are a perfect go-to recipe for school bake sales.

Melting Moments (Makes 12)

200g (7oz) butter, softened
100g (3.5 oz) caster sugar
1 egg free-range, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g(9oz) self-raising flour
140g (5oz) oats or 100g (3.5oz) crushed cornflakes for a crunchy alternative!
6 glace cherries, halved (optional)

1. Line a baking tray with greaseproof & preheat the oven to 180C/200F/Gas 4.
2. Cream the sugar and butter together in a bowl until light and fluffy.
3. Whisk the egg and then beat it into the creamed sugar & butter
4. Stir in the vanilla extract and the sieved flour until well combined.
5. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
6. Either crush the cornflakes with the base of a cup or take the oats and sprinkle them onto a plate or shallow dish. Roll the balls of dough in the oats and put them on the baking tray. Then pat the balls to squash them down slightly.
7. Optional – decorate with half a glazed cherry.
8. Bake the biscuits for 12–15 minutes, or until a light golden colour.

The first time I baked these with my son and daughter they were amazed at the amount of butter we needed to use. 200 grams is nearly the whole of a standard 250 gram block from the supermarket - 80% to be precise!. 100 grams of sugar also forms a pretty sizable ‘sugar hill’ on your kitchen scales.

The actual process of preparing these melting moments is good fun. Kids can take responsibility for the cracking and whisking of the egg, and the creaming of the butter and sugar to transform them into a fluffy goo. Even the youngest chefs of 3 to 4 years old can, with supervision, shape the dough into balls and roll them in the oats or crushed cornflakes.

But I believe the most valuable lesson to be learned from baking melting moments with your kids is it allows them to not only calculate how much fat and sugar is in each biscuit, but to see and actually feel it too. I encouraged my children to literally ‘do the maths’ (with an ‘s’ – we are in the UK!)

Assuming that the recipe yields the full 12 biscuits, each individual Melting Moment contains:
16.7g butter
8.3g sugar
0.08% of an egg
0.08% tsp vanilla extract
20.8g self-raising flour
11.7g approx. oats
8.3g approx. cornflakes
50% of a glazed cherry

What’s interesting to me is that the kids could not only measure the weights of the ingredients – practicing their numeracy skills at the same time – but also physically judge the dimensions of say 17 grams of butter as compared to the size of their hand, their mouth or their tummy.

Even with a basic understanding of nutrition, children are aware of the importance of a balanced diet made up of proteins, carbohydrates, fresh fruit and vegetables and fats. They can then judge how the ingredients of their biscuit measures up to the healthy ideal. I do believe that their attitude towards how many of the Melting Moments could and should be eaten in one sitting changed, and they were happy to savour the flavour one at a time.

When my son was younger he imagined that if you ate a gingerbread man biscuit, he would reform inside your tummy.

Where this is obviously just a sweet notion, it could be a useful tool to introduce the idea that what you eat does have an effect on your body. Your body needs certain vitamins and minerals to function and grow. Food is converted into energy. Obviously the level of detail in which you and your kids explore this will vary depending on their age, but in our experience the processes involved in eating, digestion and how the body works is something that children find fascinating.

So, is it ok to bake cakes and biscuits with your kids?

Absolutely. You’ll be giving them so much more than a sweet treat!

So what are you waiting for?