I saw an awesome ‘cook with children’ feature in Good Food magazine, and decided to make use of my handily placed niece and nephew to make some belated Easter cakes. The cakes in question were chocolate mini muffins, baked in terracotta flowerpots, and decorated with little wafer flowers. After several weeks of faffing around in garden centres looking for miniature terracotta flowerpots, I admitted defeat, bought some orange plastic ones and re-jigged the recipe to make normal sized muffins baked in a conventional tray, rather than pots.
In my head, this was going to be a ‘cool auntie’ thing to do- we’d have fun, get something to eat at the end, and have a lovely educational experience where niece and nephew would learn about weights and measures, and how to crack eggs and stuff like that- It was going to be a lovely, wholesome sun-bathed afternoon. Oh how wrong I was.
My first mistake was to call Fin and Lyla out to the kitchen before I’d found the scales or got any of the ingredients out of the cupboards. Well used to baking with my mum, they’d donned their aprons and dragged the dining chairs over to the worktop before I’d managed to do anything except get the mixing bowls out.
While I was desperately rummaging in my mum’s cupboards for the flour, the kids were merrily putting the mixing bowls on their heads while laughing maniacally. Deep breath, ok, doesn’t matter- heads can’t be that dirty. I found all the dry ingredients, finally located the scales and we pressed on. Lyla wanted to measure the sugar. Sensibly I decided to help by holding on to the bag. Lyla, being the independent type, was not happy with this and a lot of sugar ended up on the floor. Fin meanwhile busied himself by tasting the flour and the cocoa powder.
Finally managed to get the dry stuff weighed and (mostly) in the bowl, but I couldn’t locate the cooking oil. While I improvised by melting butter, Lyla was emptying out the coffee pods from the Tassimo dispenser on the worktop and Fin took an egg in each hand and announced that he needed to crack them. Aaaagh. Managed to sweep all rogue ingredients over to the other worktop where they couldn’t be grabbed at and got the butter in the bowl. Decided it would be sensible if I measured the rest of the ingredients myself as the kitchen was pretty covered with stuff now, and I measured out the milk. Fin tried to pick up the eggs again. Gave up stopping him and let each of them smash an egg into the bowl. Fished out the rogue bits of shell.
Then it was on to the mixing- Surely that’d be fine. No, of course not- in spite of my protestations to ‘mix it gently’, they took more of a helicopter approach. More ingredients were splashed up the wall, on the floor etc. Mix mixed, I was trying to assist with the dolloping of cake mix into cases, when my mum came back in. While I was busy apologising for the state of her kitchen and trying not to laugh hysterically, the kids were merrily eating massive spoonfuls of cake mix. We eventually got everything into the oven and I sent everyone off to the other room so I could try and clear up the carnage.
Carnage vaguely abated, all that was left was a bit of light decorating. Again, because I’ll never learn, I called the kids in before I’d melted the chocolate, and so by the time everything was ready, both of them had eaten a large quantity of cake. Hey ho. We dipped what was left in chocolate, threw crumbled up flake and wafer flowers at what remained, and actually, the final result, while a bit of a farce to get to, wasn’t so bad. And at least everyone enjoyed themselves!