Bake for Family Fun in February!

AnimalCookies

It’s February: Do you know where the kids are?

It’s time to get them into the kitchen for Bake for Family Fun Month!

Last year I wrote about baking with my daughter, then not quite 2 years old, and a few lessons I learned in the process (Lesson #1: Do not put a bowl full of M&Ms on the counter and expect said child to allow them into the dough bowl without a vigorous fight!).

Fortunately, I know I am not alone in this experience; my post elicited numerous stories from readers sharing their own family baking disasters, from frosting all over the kitchen to a mother tackling alone the special baking project in which her kids refused to participate. Family fun indeed!

Well, another year of practice later and we’re getting pretty good at baking together in my house. Amelia has progressed from merely dumping ingredients into the bowl to helping me review the recipe and gather ingredients, roll out pie crust, knead bread, eat scoop cookie dough, and more.

I love to bake, so it makes me feel good that when I ask if she wants to bake something, the answer is almost always a resounding “YES!”

And even better that she sometimes asks if we can bake for someone – it’s never too early to get kids in the habit of doing good for others. Our Life Skills Bread Baking Program is one of the ways we encourage that idea – not to mention the value of baking in helping kids learn reading, math, problem-solving, and other critical life skills.

This year, instead of dictating, I asked Amelia what she’d like to make for our special project. Unfortunately, her imagination was bigger than my ambition this week (I’m just not sure how to make “chocolate mousse pie pockets” work – but truly she’s a girl after my own heart!). So, after some conversation, we settled on animal cookies, making good use of the fun cookie cutters she charmed out of a colleague and which, until now, had been living with her Play-Doh collection.

Amelia helped measure…

…man the mixer (one of her favorite parts of baking – just remember to keep little fingers and hair away from the spinning paddle)…

…and cut out the cookies. This was a good opportunity to work on our vocabulary, adding “plunger” to the mix.

We try to keep it neat when we bake, cleaning up and putting things away as we go. But I think a lot of the fun comes in allowing kids some freedom – to get covered in flour, squish the dough between their fingers, and play with their food for a change. Amelia likes that, anyway, so I always give her a chance to get messy when we’re done.

The whole family agreed these were way better than store-bought, and a fun and easy project for a winter afternoon. And we got to have fun with them twice – in the baking and in the playing that naturally happens when eating animal cookies!

The Home Baking Association, which designated February as Bake for Family Fun Month, has a whole host of recipes, activities, and resources to keep you busy in the kitchen throughout the month with kids of all ages.

And if you’re looking for kid-approved recipe recommendations, try a few of our family favorites: Self-Rising Chocolate Chip Cookies, Crusty Cheese Loaves, and Blueberry Hand Pies. Happy baking to you and yours!

Allison Furbish
About

Allison Furbish is a native of the Upper Valley, where King Arthur Flour is based, and an avid lifelong baker especially enthusiastic about anything chocolate.

comments

  1. "Sarah d"

    I don’t have any kids myself, but I made this recipe the other day for some friends who do, and they loved it (a little bit healthier than your every-day cookies) And it is so great to teach kids early on that they can have fun and do something to help others at the same time. Loved this post- thank you!
    Also, getting kids involved early on in the preparation of their food makes them more likely to try new foods as they come along. A win-win all around! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Anne

    I no longer have small kid in the house, but I totally agree that cooking and baking with kids – and with family and friends, too – is fun and quality time, something to treasure. In these pictures I can see the young lady has grown a lot, and is now more interested in baking with Mom. How precious!

    I have been eyeing these animal cookies. They seem to be tiny and therefore good for thrifty calorie count. ( Yes?) I bet they taste better than those store-bought. Who knows how long those boxes have been sitting on the shelves. But how do you get those brown spots and stripes on the giraffe and zebra, and the outlines for the lion’s mane and the elephant’s ears? They don’t come from the browning in the oven, do they?
    HI Anne,
    Yes, the lovely coloring on the animals comes from browning, we didn’t use any icing on the cookies. The cookies end up being a little bit bigger than “classic” animal crackers, but not much. Definitely a good size for portion control. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. marcin

    I wish KAF would sell chefs’ hats for grownups and kids. It would make it really fun!

    That does sound like fun! I will put this into our customer requests and maybe we will get some.-Jon

    Reply
  4. aechl

    I love this post! I have those cutters, and have tried making cookies with a different recipe before… which I didn’t love. So – can’t wait to try the KAF recipe! (and your daughter is adorable!!)

    Our recipe for animal crackers is a real winner in my books! Just slightly sweet and the oats provide a great nutty flavor.-Jon
    Thanks friend! -Allison

    Reply
  5. GAsh83

    great post. I started baking bc of my youngest reactions/allergies to foods when she started eating real foods From there I have come to LOVE baking, something that amazes me and I wish I had realized years ago. We definitely bake together normally once a week, we as in my 5 year old and 3 1/2 year old.
    I had to laugh at the last pic of you daughter covered in flour, that is exactly what they look like at the end. Esp the 5 year old, who likes to eat the flour that falls on the counter. …silly girl.
    I love the cookie cutters, they on my wish list for my next order, then we will try this rec too.
    I’m so glad to hear you are creating fond memories in the kitchen so early. I hope we’ll get to see pictures some day. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. lorettapinkvelvet

    My baby grandson loves animal crackers. I would love to make him the homemade version, but he can’t have honey till he is older. What can I substitute for the honey? Would agave syrup be a good exchange.

    I understand completely! You can use an equal part of agave syrup or a golden syrup (like Lyle’s) in the recipe. Some light corn syrup would also be acceptable. Kim@KAF

    Reply
  7. Jannelda

    i was very happy to read this post…my grandmother started letting me help in the kitchen before i was even in kindergarten, and that love of baking ( and cooking in general) has stayed with me my entire life…and i am quite well past the age of discretion! Thank you all at KAF so very much…

    Reply
  8. meedee

    I love this blog!! I baked and cooked with my son and granddaughter when they were 2 and 4 and through the years, now 22 and 24 they still bake and cook. I am so proud of them!! Keep the wonderful kid blogs coming. Thank you K.A.F..

    Reply
  9. MelissaGF

    Do you think this would work with your gluten free flour? Could I put gluten free oats in the food processor to make the oat flour?

    This recipe would certainly be a decent candidate for a gluten free makeover. Also, processing gluten free oats into a powder should be a fine replacement for oat flour.-Jon

    Reply
  10. nancy wolfe

    I love making these cute animal cracker cookies. The recipe is very easy. Just remember to press down on the entire cookie cutter and then the center stamp. Beautiful and yummy.

    Reply

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