I have been baking professionally with children and adults for many years. With good planning and a little patience it can be very rewarding for both of you. Baking from scratch an also be much more rewarding than out of the box baking since it promotes a better understanding of ingredients and procedural disciplines which are more important in baking versus cooking for example. No guts, no glory!
1. Organization is the key. Plan a time with no interruptions. Prior to actual baking time with your child, have everything you need ready and available.
2. Provide Simple and Clear Direction. A simple baking project and recipe to start off with is recommended. You don't want to start off with something too complex of a procedure. So instead of starting with a cake, do cupcakes. A child will find them more fun since they can usually make many of them and then get to decorate them all differently later on.
Mis en place , French for everything it's place, is essential prior to starting, so have all your ingredients out and ready to use in the order called for. Have all your required accessories ready such as cupcake tins with liners, whisks, spoon, spatulas, mixing bowls etc.
3. Good Time Management will allow your young baker to stay focused and engaged. Too many gaps will cause a child to lose interest fast! This relates back to the point of being organized. Be ready to move to the next steps of the recipe.
4. Active Participation will reinforce your child's interest and focus and promote good question and answer dialogue which of course leads to a better understanding and learning experience. With that being said, have your child do as much of the procedural aspects as possible (of course with a little one on one guidance along the way). Measure out the ingredients together while explaining how to combine them together. Let them do the mixing ( using hand mixed recipes to start with are best since young children shouldn't be operating an electric mixer on their own).
5. Reassurance Let your your young apprentice know that they are doing a great job along the way and create an anticipation of what is coming next...decorating their fresh baked cupcakes! While the cupcakes are baking, set up some decorating fun together on the table in preparation of your soon to be baked cupcakes. This can be fun and time consuming while your cupcakes are baking. Set up your icings, vanilla and chocolate, and perhaps color some icing while your waiting for the cupcakes to cool. Get your icing spatulas and pastry bags filled. Have your confectionery ready to use as well.
6. Provide The Reward When your child completes the decorating, the rewards are priceless. Not only will they be able to eat their cupcakes, but the feeling of accomplishment will sure to taste just as good as the cupcakes themselves! Sharing their creations with family will further instill self pride. Don't forget the pics to preserve the moment and have a special cupcake plate ready to display the goodies!
All in all, the reward will be mutual and certainly a memory to never be unforgotten!