What children and parents can learn by baking together

I, like so many people who love to cook and bake, developed an enthusiasm for the culinary arts by standing at my mother’s elbow, first watching and then helping her make everything from simple cookies to more complicated dishes like strudel and pâte à choux. The time spent baking with my mom created indelible memories, but there is more to the story than that. Dorie Greenspan understands, and writes about the things she and her son Joshua learned by baking together

Everyday Dorie

Not surprisingly, Dorie and Joshua spent the latter’s formative years doing a lot of baking. A photograph of the two of them cutting out cookies together when Joshua was just a toddler immediately ushers in a flood of memories for Dorie, who wishes that she had taken more pictures of them baking. She fondly recalls their shared time in the kitchen: “Playing with the dough a little longer than any recipe would recommend. Molding miniature figures from the scraps. Licking bowls, spoons and fingers. Piling dishes in the sink and leaving them for later. Sitting on the floor in front of the oven window, watching our work rise, turn golden and set.”

But more than just memories were made in her kitchen, Dorie explains. She believes that by teaching Joshua how to bake, she was instilling more than a mere appreciate for baking or even the skill to make his own treats. Like mastering any other task, learning to bake allowed Joshua to develop independence and understand what it means to do a job well done, without relying on anyone else to measure the quality of the work. As Dorie so eloquently puts it, baking allowed Joshua to achieve a “quiet sense of competence.”

Baking recipe with flour and eggs

I never thought about the time I spent baking with my mother from that viewpoint, but looking back, I can see how mastering a skill in the kitchen can provide a sense of accomplishment that can carry through to other areas. Although I took it for granted at the time, I know now that baking with my mother was a privilege that not afforded to everyone. It’s something I will always cherish. 

In this vein, Dorie Greenspan wrote the foreword for a new book being released next month, In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for the Whole Family to Make and Enjoy by Mardi Michels. Spend some summer afternoons before school starts back up with your children in the kitchen.

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