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  • Rosie Alexander

Ten Recipes for a Christmas Bake Off — the benefits of cooking with pre-schoolers


Why did as many as 10.8 million people this year tune into the first episode of Channel 4’s Great British Bake Off? Yes, we were all shut in and were looking for entertainment, but I’m hesitating a few other guesses: 1. it centres on food and most people love eating; 2. the whole baking process seems so mellow and wholesome, and 3. it is calming and a welcome break from the busy. Add children to the recipe (not literally, but in the sense of letting them

cook with you) and there are many more reasons why baking is worthwhile.


Bringing pre-schoolers into the kitchen can help them in so many ways. Just by doing something as simple as counting eggs or spoonfuls can develop mathematical skills, as can using simple mathematical language, such as “bigger” and “smaller”, and other concepts such as “firstly” and “secondly” as you both move through a recipe. The kitchen is also a mini science lab that draws attention to colour, liquid, gases and texture. Yes, baking can be messy with toddlers but it’s such an opportunity to encourage them to be creative, to develop communication skills and build bonds, especially with siblings. And whilst they’re having fun with you, as they scatter icing sugar and slurp on melted chocolate, you can watch your little one’s confidence grow.


Cooking is a basic life skill after all; teaching a child from the very beginning that it’s something they can do easily may formulate a teenager or young adult that is able to rustle up a quick healthy meal rather than one that heads for the nearest fast food. And whilst I’m not suggesting that the kind of baking that will appeal to a pre-schooler will always be cordon bleu, the process of picking out a watermelon, helping to mix in tomatoes, adding the herbs will greatly improve the chances that they will try the finished dish.


So, put on some Christmas tunes and turn out the ingredients for some serious baking with the under-fives. These ten recipes are not of my own invention I’m afraid, nor are they anything you’d want to eat every day, but for a bit of Christmas fun that’s educational, they’re perfect…


POLAR BEAR PEPPERMINT CREAMS


CHRISTMAS ROCKY ROAD


CHEESE STARS


MELTED SNOWMEN COOKIES


ETON MESS CHRISTMAS WREATH


CHRISTMAS TREE SANDWICH


CHRISTMAS TREE BROWNIES


MARSHMALLOW SNOWBALL DIPPERS


POLAR BEAR CUPCAKES


WATERMELON CHRISTMAS TREES


Country Mouse wishes our lovely nursery family a very Happy Christmas!


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