Friday, December 3, 2010

Taking the Aching out of Baking

Raise your hand if you like baking with your kids. If your hand shot up in the air and then very slowly retracted while your eyes darted about to see if you'd been witnessed, you're a lot like me. In theory, yes! So much fun, right? You can get all mathematical with measuring cups and spoons. They can lick the beaters and watch the cookies melt through the oven window. And then you can all sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor with a wholesome glass of milk.

But in reality? Puffs of flour everywhere, more batter in children's little mouths than in the bowl, slight mis-measurements that probably won't ruin the cookies, but still make them not-quite-right. And it just seems to take forever.

Before today's cookie project, I took a deep breath and repeated the mantra: They're not going to be perfect, but they'll be all right.

I also picked a very easy recipe which I had made before and which had built-in kid-friendly jobs. Thumbprint cookies actually invite kids to fondle the dough.

We laid a table cloth on the dining room table and did all of our work where the kids could sit.

I give the project an overall B+. For Fifi, it would be an A. I measured most of the ingredients and she poured them in. She was pretty good at rolling the dough into balls. And she excelled at plopping her thumb into the balls to make the craters into which she expertly dumped a wad of jam.

My Vance is a thumb-sucker. So we generally eat any food prepared by him at our own risk. (Lucky for me, I'm not a huge fan of apricot jam, the flavor he was assigned.) He, like my daughter, was fine with the pouring. But he couldn't quite roll the balls and was only partially satisfied using one ball of dough as play-dough while my daughter and I really prepared the other 47.

In the end, I'm confident the oven baked away any sucked-thumb germs. (Right?) My kids each had a chance to crack an egg and were delighted to say they had baked with Mommy. The cookies were satisfactory in the taste department, pretty good in the aesthetic department and no problem in the project survival department. Next up: creme brulee.

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