B and I have been developing some common interests for awhile now: Starbucks dates. Stickers. Coloring. Puzzles. But, the thing that I think we both enjoy the most is baking together.
At almost 3 years old (!), B is at the stage where she likes to make a mess, be helpful and eat sweets. Fortunately, baking appeals to all three of these things.
I usually pick something simple like chocolate chip cookies, banana bread or a basic cupcake recipe. Toddler attention spans only hold out for so long, after all, so things that I can do from memory and that don’t involve a lot of steps or ingredients are a must.
When it’s time to get started, we grab our aprons and her stepstool, line up all of our ingredients and get to work. I measure out the butter, sugar and flour for her to dump into the bowl. She whisks up the dry ingredients and I mix everything together in my Kitchen Aid. She is always in charge of sprinkling in cinnamon, dumping in the bag of chocolate chips or lining the cupcake tins with wrappers, depending on the recipe.
I love how she will stick her nose in the mixing bowl and say, “Yum! Smells good!” even if the bowl contains only flour and baking soda at the time. I try to set a good example by not licking the bowl (or eating cookie dough), but she seems to have figured out all on her own that taste testing is one of the best parts of baking.
Of course, there are mishaps. Handfuls of flour end up on the floor. Entire containers of rainbow sprinkles scatter across the counter, while I frantically corral them before B eats them all. Meltdowns ensue when as the 13 minutes that it takes to bake a tray of cookies crawl by. As with most situations involving a toddler, patience is key.
Finally, the baked goods make their way out of the oven and onto a plate and a few seconds later, B grins at me with a chocolate-smeared mouth and says “I did a great job, mama…” And, she seems so happy that I don’t even realize that she has danced her way out of the kitchen to go watch a show, leaving me with the clean-up.