By KATHY SMITH
Baking can be a fun way to spend time together as a family. It can be inexpensive and be a great way to share baking traditions, recipes and family heritage that can be handed down for many generations.
February is Bake for Family Fun Month and the Home Baking Association (www.homebaking.org/familyfun), encourages families to take time to be together in the kitchen. Here are some tips provided by the Home Baking Association that can help you to get started.
• Be prepared. Do some preparation by reading and trying the recipes first. Add 20 to 30 minutes to explain, show and guide beginners and 15 minutes for more experienced bakers. Divide it into two sessions if needed or pre-measure or prepare some steps beforehand if needed.
• Keep it clean. Wash hand and countertops before starting and cleaning up after your are finished. Provide separate towels for hands and dishes and frequently wash pot holders. Aprils or large T-shirts are great for keeping clothes clean during the baking process.
• Take it one step at a time. Read the recipe, gather ingredients and make sure nothing was left out. When short on time or working with beginners, prepare some steps ahead or do some steps one day and complete the mixing and baking the next.
• Use the right tools. Pour liquid ingredients in clear measuring cups glass or plastic, placed on the countertop. Read that amount at eye level. Use standard dry measuring cups for dry ingredients such as flour and sugar. Use measuring spoons for small amounts less than three-quarter cup.
• Do a safe kitchen checklist. Turn handles of pans toward the center of the stove so sleeves or people passing by won’t catch on them and spill. Keep cupboard doors and drawers closed unless in use. Always use only dry hot pads or oven mitts because heat goes through damp mitts. When stirring or checking for if it is done, tilt the lid away from you so steam is released away from your face.
• Oven ins and outs. Before preheating, make sure the oven racks are in the right place for the pans and recipes. Preheat the oven as the recipe directs. Allow 10 or more minutes. Place pans in the oven so they do not touch each other or the oven sides. Do not place pans on racks directly below or above another pan. Keep clean, dry oven mitts or pads close by.
Baking can be a learning experience. Children and adults learn a lot together in the kitchen. The results of baking or cooking together contributes to stronger relationships at home and in groups and children learn time management, team skills, following directions and problem solving.