I am a novice baker. I can cook relatively well but have always shied away from baking. Maybe as opposed to cooking, where you can let your imagination run wild and and come up with your own inventive dish, baking I feel, is more inflexible ie the measurements must be accurate, the mixture must be stirred until to a certain texture etc … (again I reiterate that I am a novice baker).
Then one day, when my DS was slightly over 2 years old, he mentioned these two words "bake" and "gingerbreadman" while speaking to me. Now, The Gingerbreadman is one of his favourite story/character. There was a time when he wanted me to read only that book to him. He even enjoyed the play in Alliance Francaise some many months back.
I was like hmmmm, maybe its a sign. So I decided to go to Phoon Huat to recee. But in the end I got side-tracked at NTUC when I stumbled upon this pre-mix Gingerbreadman cookie mix while grocery shopping. The plus point was that it contained the cutter or molder, icing mix (to draw the eyes and lips) and chocolate chips (for the buttons).
So armed with this newly discovered ‘magic tool’, I proceeded with the task of baking with my DS. Needless to say, he was very excited at the mere idea of watching me (that was the initial plan). In the end, DS ended up helping me with the stirring, rolling out the dough, molding and decorating the cookies. Here are some pictures.
The pre-mix cookie packet and what it contains inside. We have to add the butter and egg in the pre-mix.
DS helping me to cut/mold out the cookies after rolling out the dough.
Cookies ready to bake in the oven.
DS putting ‘buttons’ on the cookie.
DS attempting to draw the eyes and lips.
Taaa daaa, ready to eat Gingerbreadman cookies.
Along the way, we have attempted to bake cupcakes and other cookies (simple recipes of course) together. These are some of the reasons why I enjoy baking with my DS (listed not in any order of priority) and why I feel, besides being an enjoyable activity for him to engage in, it can be a learning journey as well:
1. It is yet another opportunity for us to bond.
2. It fine tunes his gross motor skills for eg when he has to grip and place the small chocolate chip ‘buttons’ in a straight line.
3. It hones up his listening skills because he has to listen to me reading the instructions and then instructing him what to do.
4. It encourages him to speak and ask questions like "mummi, why must we stir the flour and egg and butter together". Again his listening skills come into play here when he has to listen to the rationale.
5. It encourages him to hone up his concentration skills as he has to focus on the task.
6. At the same time, he learns a bit of math when he watches the ingredients being measured/weighed in a precise manner.
7. There’s some learning of simple science like watching the dough rising and learning about the use of heat, the different textures of the mixed ingredients during the mixing and baking process.
8. Vocabulary is expanded as he learns about the various utensils and tools used. Also some use of "technical" words/phrases like "icing", "kneading" are picked up.
9. It builds up his self-esteem because now at almost three years, he is at the age where he wants to try out things independently. And once the cookies are baked, he goes around telling the family members happily that he is able to bake the cookies with "only a little of mummi’s help".
10. He learns about the different kinds of dangers that he can encounter when he is alone in the kitchen and is taught how important it is for him to respect/obey my rule that he cannot venture into the kitchen on his own unless permission is granted.
11. Last but not least, we get to enjoy the fruits of our labour – the yummy biscuits together.
So, dear mummies who have always wanted to try baking but like me, avoided it, I encourage you to give it a go. It is really fun