Baking 101

My 12-year-old has decided that she either wants to be a baker or a photographer when she grows up.  Meanwhile my 16-year-old has no clue what she wants to do with her life, but that is beside the point.  The 12-year-old has decided that she needs to practice her baking skills; so this summer I have taught her how to use the mixer, the oven, the stove, etc.  At first she was wanting to bake something new every day, but I had to quickly put a stop to that.  I was running out of eggs and milk way too fast.  We have cut it down to once or twice a week that she has been wanting to bake something constantly.  She has mostly been making box cakes, cupcakes, and cookies.  We haven’t yet ventured into her making things from scratch.  The first few times I was in the kitchen with her going step by step with everything to make sure there were no eggshells in the food and that she didn’t burn the house down.  She now has proven to me that she can handle it and has graduated to doing it on her own as long as I am somewhere in the house.  This makes her so excited as she has always loved being independent.  Plus, it has given her something to do and look forward to while we are stuck at home.  She is also enjoying constantly making fun of her sister because her sister is still too afraid to take things in and out of the oven by herself. 

While I am happy with this newfound interest, it does come with 2 huge problems.  First of all, she is an extremely messy baker.  She hasn’t quite learned how to ice things yet.  Part of it is that she doesn’t really like icing, so she never uses enough which makes the cakes crumble.  I know what you are thinking…what kid doesn’t like icing?!?!? Remember, this is the kid with all the food issues.  Anyway, I don’t know how she manages this, but she always ends up getting icing EVERYWHERE!!  I find it days later in places it never should have been in the first place.  It’s insane!  One of the things I have to constantly remind her is that if she is going to bake, she has to clean up after herself.  She seems to think that means just putting everything in the sink for her sister to wash.  You see, they both have dishwashing jobs.  The youngest loads and unloads the dishwasher and the oldest washes the pots, pans, and other things that I don’t like to put in the dishwasher.  It is really just a constant source of arguments between the two of them. It’s a work in progress for sure.  

The second problem, and probably the biggest, is that we constantly have all these sweets lying around the kitchen.  I think I gain weight just smelling them baking.  Once she has a finished product, she insists that everyone in the house tries it right away.  We have to ooh and ahh over it or she thinks she is a failure.  Then, she is constantly shoving more and more of it at us because she knows she can’t bake something else until the current baked good is gone.  Her dad isn’t really into sweets all that much, so he will eat it that first time just to please her and then not again.  Her sister likes cookies but isn’t big on cake, so she will sometimes refuse to even try it.  This causes much angst too.  Basically, it leaves me, the one who has a weakness for cakes and cupcakes, eating it all.  I think I have gained like 10 pounds just from eating all her creations.  I don’t know what to do about this dilemma because I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I cannot keep eating all this myself.  We threw out almost an entire cake last night because I just couldn’t eat it.  I am hoping that she doesn’t notice, but I am sure she will.    

Despite the mess and the added calories to my diet these days, I really love that she is interested in baking.  It gives us a common ground. When I was 11 years old, one of my mom’s best friends taught me how to bake and decorate cakes.  By the time that I was 12, close family friends were actually paying me to make birthday cakes, and it is something that I still love to do.  As I have shared before, my youngest and I butt heads A LOT.  We are like oil and water 98% of the time.  Baking is one thing that we have sort of bonded over recently, and it gives us something to laugh and talk about.  I have really tried over the past couple of years to really work on our relationship.  Things have gotten way better than they used to be, and this has sort of been the icing on the cake (pun intended).  I really love that we have this in common.  I guess it is worth the extra calories if it means we aren’t yelling at each other all the time. Bring on the cake!


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