Following, last nights exciting final on the British Bake Off it seemed appropriate that today was child 3's class cake sale and it's nearly Halloween, I love Halloween cake sales it's the perfect time for orange and purple butter cream and spider sweets. Now that child 4 has arrived there is no way in a million years that I would have time for any fancy, creative baking, so keep it simple. I made up some Dalek biscuits last night (don't you just lurve Lakeland) and today child 4 helped me make the cup cakes. It was a definite déjà vue moment with a toddler standing on a kitchen chair, learning how to turn on my Kenwood mixer and then watch his face light up with mischievous delight when he realised that it has speed settings!! I showed him how to break eggs, ooh dangerously exciting and he very happily emptied in the bowl of flour. I turned my back just long enough to get out the cake trays and when I glanced back he had BOTH hands in the cake mixture "yum!" Good job we did the proper hand wash before starting.
Handing him the mixer part, just to keep him busy whilst I plopped spoonfuls of mixture in the Halloween cases, I quickly moved them into the oven to be baked. And then the best bit, licking out the bowl. If all the children were home they would fight over this bit. Wish they felt the same about the washing up.
Once child 4 went off for his nap, I could ice my wares in peace and quiet, the decoration is the most important bit as primary age children love icing and lickle edible decorations and they are always drawn to the biggest, chocolatiest, most colourful or most sweetie adorned cakes and as I would probably be helping I would be devastated if no one wanted to buy my cakes.
When we finished setting up the stall, I swear the tables were groaning under the weight of all the gorgeous cakes that parents had made and then like a swarm of locusts, what felt like hundreds of noisy little people arrived at the table, their little hands clutching coins, their faces wowed with the delights sitting before them, oh the choice, then the panic what if the cake they want is sold before they can attract the attention of one of the women manning the stall. More children push through shouting, look at the chocolate and gold cakes, the orange ones, the Dalek biscuits!! Phew all sold.
Then all of a sudden the stall is clear, the playground deserted and peace descends. Time to go home. A nice cup of tea and a chocolate spiders web cake I think.
Any cooking with children has got to be a good thing, according to latest figures From the National Child Measurement Programme a third of 11 year olds are overweight or obese and a quarter of 4/5 year olds are too. We need to move away from quick, processed, fat laden foods to a much healthier regime - says the woman baking cakes with her children - but this is just a starting point. Child 1 and 2 can both cook a three course meal and could if I asked make an evening meal like lasagna or sweet corn fritters and sticky chicken, they would just prefer that I cooked.
I learnt to cook at my mothers knee and insist that my children do the same, I believe that it is not only a crucial life lesson but also something magical. A meal cooked and then shared with love is what family and life is all about.