I decided to set up a baking experience to give my boys the freedom to explore their senses and creativity and foster some independence (although my husband seems to think they are independent enough, I say they can always use more independence in the kitchen). I chose making pastries the way to go as they taste so yummy with whatever you choose to put in them.
My boys and I made the pastry dough in the morning as it needed to sit in the fridge for a few hours. Here is the Flaky Pastry Dough Recipe I used. It is from the book “At the Farmers Market with Kids”, a recent buy, that I now love!
While the dough was chilling in the fridge, I made sure to get all the other ingredients ready so the boys could make their pastries on their own. Here is what I put out for them:
- greased pans and muffin tins
- various cookie cutters
- 2 cutting boards
- relatively sharp knife, but not too sharp of course
- applesauce, walnut pieces, blueberries, chocolate chips
- large apple, 2 peaches
- cinnamon, brown sugar
When the dough was ready I rolled it flat, they helped a little with that, but in all honesty it was too time consuming to let them roll all of it so I did most of it.
I then went over the basic ideas of making pastries and what was available for them on the table. They were so very eager to get started they could barely contain themselves!
Then I just let them go! Like really, I just left the table to them and watched as they created their tasty masterpieces.
It was awesome! I think they worked for at least one and a half hours, maybe even a little longer. It’s amazing the kind of focus they had the whole time, I would have thought they would have gotten bored after 30 minutes, but they kept making more and coming up with different combinations of ingredients and different shapes!
They asked for little help, but when they did I helped and then went back to watching. My 7 month old enjoyed watching as well, he had a snack at the table while they created.
The boys were finished when all the dough had been used. We then popped them into the oven and waited….
They turned out great! My boys were so very proud of themselves, and I was too. We all tasted the pastries and I was surprised how yummy they were, I mean a 3 and 4 year old made them, I think that’s amazing! ( I may be a tad bias, but anyone else who tried them also said they were very good too).
So go ahead, let your little ones create, bake, and enjoy some pasties. The only thing I would advise would be to leave a lot of time for this activity. A half day is best as it takes time to create and bake and then there is clean-up afterwards, it does get a little messy when they work independently, but well worth it to see their faces when you take the pasties out of the oven!