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How to bake with kids without trashing the kitchen, by Lisa Williams

Tidy hacks for keeping the kitchen clean while baking with children


There’s nothing more fun than baking with your children: little hands plunging into dough, getting creative with the Smarties and giving the Great British Bake Off contestants a run for their money (especially if there was a challenge called ‘mis-shapes’).

But it is messy. And your kitchen will be turned upside down in less time than it takes for a three-year-old to scoff a cupcake. While you have to embrace the mess to a certain extent (it is part of the fun), the clean freaks among us can limit the damage with the following cleaning hacks for baking…

1) Buy them their own aprons

Mini kitchen scrubs will help them get into character as pastry chef, and save you having to get dried up cookie dough off that Bobo Choses sweatshirt. You can buy cute PVC Miffy aprons here or, for smaller children, just pop on their long-sleeved bib.

2) Silicone is your best friend

Silicone baking gear is as satisfying to clean freaks as licking the bowl is to kids. It’s easy to clean plus, with its bright colours and soft form, it’s child-friendly too. You can buy silicone spatulas, cupcake cases and cake ‘tins’, Use a wipe-clean silicone baking sheets with Yorkshire puddings, croissants or cookies and cry with relief when you realise your scrubbing days are over.

3) Now’s your chance to be a Blue Peter presenter

Remember Blue Peter cooking segments, when each ingredient was laid out in immaculate glass bowls, ready to be popped in to the main mixing bowl? Didn’t it look easy? Didn’t it look clean? Well, now’s your chance to be Yvette Fielding/Barney Harwood/Helen Skelton. Simply pre-measure your ingredients before the kids get involved, and allow them to add it all in together. Yes, it will create more washing up, but less mess – which is the point.

4) Keep it at their level

I mean this both literally and figuratively. For the former, make sure the work surface is level with them so they can see what they’re doing and reach what they need to. You can prepare everything while sitting at the kitchen table, or use a stepping stool to raise them up to the work surface. For the latter, bake rainbow cookies and simple cupcakes so it’s a fun process for everyone. Anything over-complicated that requires an in-depth study of the recipe, thermometers and 129 ingredients is bound to end in tears (theirs and yours).

5) How to remove flour from a work surface

No matter what precautions you take, flour will end up dusted everywhere, like a charming/annoying snowstorm. Clear it off your work surfaces with a ruler or shower squeegee, then wipe clean with a damp cloth. For stubborn dough stains, soak a cloth with warm water, lie it over the area, and wait for the dough to soften again before scraping it off.

6) Keep them entertained

If you make the baking process fun for children – allowing them creative license with icing and playing music in the background – they’re more likely to enjoy the process and therefore less likely to kick off and make things messy in the process. It also goes without saying that it’s important not to clean up after their every move. Unless you want to suck the joy out of the process completely, in which case you’re better off buying pre-made cakes from Marks & Spencer and letting them bake when they're at Grandma's.


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