Baking with the kids is something I thoroughly enjoy, and despite the struggles we’ve all felt the past year and a half, this one thing has brought me a lot of joy. It’s exhausting, because I’m trying to relinquish a bit of control while not being a major helicopter parent as my kids take over with whatever baked goods we’re concocting.
The goal of this week’s “bake off” was intended to be aimed solely at Thanksgiving dishes, but as most of you know, when you’re a parent that’s not always what happens. I started a conversation a while ago about things they would like to create. I asked some questions: “What are some of your favorite dishes for Thanksgiving?” Also, I followed up by asking, “What would you like to make?”
They mentioned some of their favorite things: green bean casserole, crescent rolls, and cranberry sauce (in a can). They’ve made green bean casserole with me before, and they’ve made crescent rolls plenty of times, so what was I to do. Well, it turns out they had some ideas of their own. Yes, they were on board for making green bean casserole again, so they could have extras, but they mentioned a few other items.
Pumpkin bread and monkey bread were on the top of their minds. We made cranberry bread last year, so maybe they just wanted to do something different and that’s why they thought of pumpkin bread. On the other side, they LOVE monkey bread and it’s a tradition we have in our family – but it’s not for Thanksgiving. Every year, our family celebrates the holidays on Christmas eve morning. We wake up the day before Christmas, Meghan makes monkey bread, and we open presents while it bakes in the oven.
How can something they’ve had before be different?
Showing the Kids Recipes and Letting Them Take Over
Our baking day started with gathering all of the ingredients for a pumpkin bread recipe, which we were able to find on A Latte Food. Both Adelaide and Marshall were able to take turns bringing flour, sugar, spices, and every other item required to the table, including measuring cups and spoons. I wanted them to have as much control over the day’s activities as possible.
As a parent, it’s great to see them work out who gets to go first, while also understanding that the next turn goes to the other. They shared measuring responsibilities and they helped each other along the way. “I can pour the oil into the measuring cup and you can put it into the bowl.” They were figuring things out on their own, but they also wanted me to be a part of it too. And that’s a great feeling.
I helped when they asked for help, or when they just wanted me to have a turn. I did take things in and out of the oven, but that was the only task where they weren’t leading the way. Also, I have to make sure and give a big shout out to my kids’ Aunt Lolo for coming through in a pinch with some brown sugar. Not only was it a nice break between baking steps, but it really let them appreciate their experience because they wanted to do all of the recipe. For clarification, the pumpkin bread mix had brown sugar, but it also had a crumb topping that called for the ingredient as well. Plus, monkey bread needs it too, so they were truly grateful for the big-time assist. We would’ve been short, so this is a lesson to make sure you have enough before starting.
On top of watching my kids enjoying the baking process, it’s fun to hear my kids appreciate that they get to eat what they’re making. They’re putting in a lot of work, both of them are helping each other, or giving each other (or me) encouraging words. This is also especially important when it comes to messes. I always try to let them know that making a mess is normal, but we can try to do our best to minimize it. What’s also incredible is watching them take the initiative to start putting things away and cleaning their work space.
It’s truly a valuable thing to let the kids create in the kitchen. I think they understand the responsibility of making a recipe, trying to be accurate, and knowing it’s okay if it gets a little messy. Also, it was a perfect opportunity to experiment, since we lined one loaf pan with parchment paper (and still sprayed), while the other was just sprayed without paper. It was a simple way for them to see if the final product was altered from the slight change. Spoiler alert: not really.
Monkey Bread with Homemade Biscuit Dough
Meghan has been making the monkey bread in our family since the beginning. She would use canned biscuit dough, break it apart in a Bundt pan, and drizzle a sauce over top that she put together. Although we’ve never used this biscuit dough recipe before, she long ago wrote the recipe down so I’m unable to credit who crafted this recipe.
This recipe was a lot of fun for the kids, because they were able to get their hands dirty. Not like when they cracked eggs in the pumpkin bread recipe, but literally getting their hands into the mix. The biscuit recipe calls for flour, baking powder, salt, butter, and milk. They mixed the dry ingredients and then they gleefully mashed the butter into the dry mixture. If you want to make your kids happy, have them mix some kind of dough with their hands.
Plus, we planned on having monkey bread for our weekly “breakfast for dinner,” so they were happy when their “momma” came home in time to lend a hand. I think it meant a lot to them to be able to say that everyone had a part in making dinner. Yes, this was an exceedingly sweet dinner, but seeing that enjoyment from the kids is totally worth it.
If you would like to make your own monkey bread, here is the list of ingredients needed for the biscuits and sauce, plus instructions on how we put it all together:
-Mix 2 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and ½ teaspoon of salt together
-Add ½ cup of butter (cut into pieces), and mix into the dry mixture by hand until they make large crumbs
-Add 1 cup of milk and mix together
-Roll mixture onto a floured section of the table and then make ¾ inch balls of dough
Notes: I would recommend adding a pinch more of salt, and possibly using ¾ cup of milk to start. We added extra flour to account for the wet dough
Monkey Bread Sauce
-Mix together 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1 cup of brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and ¾ cups of melted butter
Notes: I misread the recipe, as it should’ve been a ½ cup of sugar. I realized this after I had put both types of sugar into the bowl and decided, “Oh, well.” Also, I wouldn’t change it, because it was delicious. But, in case you want less sugar in yours, stick to the original recipe that calls for only a ½ cup of sugar and 1 cup of brown sugar.
Building the Monkey Bread
-Preheat oven to 350˚F
-Spray the Bundt pan with non-stick spray
-Place some of the individual balls of dough into the pan as a first layer
-Pour the sauce over the first layer
-Continue a second- and third-layer pouring sauce over each section
-Bake for 35 minutes
-Cool for 5 to 10 minutes before flipping over monkey bread onto a plate
Baking with the Kids Is Awesome
I have loved all of the baking opportunities afforded to us over the past few years. It has allowed us to try something new, or recreate a favorite in a new way. It’s been a way to disconnect from the real world, while letting me connect with my kids where they can take charge.
Can it be exhausting? Absolutely! From worrying about putting everything together, the constant standing, or the overall feeling of wanting them to be happy while they do it, it can be overwhelming for me. But that’s not the point. They love baking and I love being a part of that with them. We’ve gotten into a semi-routine of doing it every few months and I think it’s definitely worth doing more often.
Do you bake with your kids? Are there any special recipes they enjoy making for the holidays? Share with us in the comments below and don’t forget to like and share with all of your geeky friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.