"Spending time with your children is one of life’s greatest giftS."
So read the inside inscription of a Hallmark card I once found in the Mother’s Day section of a stationery store. The card’s exterior illustration was of a smiling mother with her young son and daughter, each of who was holding a chocolate chip cookie, presumably made by the mother.
I wonder if Greeting Card Mommy would still be grinning and baking for her rugrats after 40-plus days in quarantine.
For the record, I don’t have children. But of my friends, family, and neighbors who have them and continue to be stuck at home, most are reporting record levels of fatigue, and some of that is due to meal preparation. It’s a small triumph to assemble a decent supper each night, let alone dessert. A short-term solution is takeout; another more lasting and increasingly attractive option: Teach the progeny to bake. You want a brownie? No problem! Just make it yourself.
If you and your youngsters find this proposition mutually appealing, here are our picks for the best kid-friendly baking books.
The Ultimate Kids’ Baking Book: 60 Easy and Fun Dessert Recipes for Every Holiday, Birthday, Milestone and More, Tiffany Dahle
This excellent guide begins with the fundamentals, doling out advice on stocking your pantry with essentials, establishing safe practices, and guidelines for answering the most important question for the novice baker of any age: when to ask for help. Subsequent chapters focus on themed confections organized around celebrations and events, such as M&M cookie sandwiches for family movie nights and cake pops for Thanksgiving. Vivid photography accompanies, serving as welcome motivation for completing multi-step projects.
Super Simple Baking for Kids: Learn to Bake with over 55 Easy Recipes for Cookies, Muffins, Cupcakes and More!, Charity Mathews
Containing roughly one recipe for every week of the year, Super Simple Baking for Kids is a well-paced course of study for amateur bakers interested in both savory and sweet goodies. Some of its more unique features include nods to regional desserts, such as whoopie pies and apple cider donuts, plus crowd-friendly creations like pull-apart cheese bread.
The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory—More Than 150 Magical Recipes for Wizards and Non-Wizards Alike, Dinah Bucholz
Though not exclusively focused on sweet treats, this cookbook is nevertheless a terrific resource for aspiring pastry chefs who also happen to be Harry Potter fans. Parents will appreciate the straight-forward instructions and simple ingredients for many of the memorable goodies that grace the pages of Rowling’s novels, such as treacle tarts and rock cakes. Also included are citations to the specific moments in the book series in which the treats are mentioned so that young bakers can whet their appetites by re-reading those passages.
Baking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Bake!, Deanna Cook
Baking Class is a mouthwatering compendium of beautiful tarts, pies, breads, and all things frosted. Detailed directions simplify seemingly complicated components such as pie crusts, and the book also comes with stickers and tags, so junior bakers with an entrepreneurial spirit can sell their wares at bake sales.
Kid Chef Junior Bakes: My First Kids Baking Cookbook, Charity Mathews
Designed for young’uns at the very beginning of their baking “career,” Kid Chef Junior Bakes provides 25 recipes divided into three difficulty categories designated by baking mitts (the more mitts, the more challenging). There are decadent and often giggle-worthy dishes such as “dirt cups” and “roly-poly cinnamon raisin bagels,” as well as more healthy renditions of traditional favorites (chocolate cookies made with avocado). “Dairy-free” and “Nut-free” sections of the index are particularly helpful for care-givers seeking to parse out appropriate recipes for kids with allergies and special dietary needs.