Kids can be incredibly capable in the kitchen – and working through recipes is a fun way for them to develop skills and self-esteem. Our resident baker Anneka Manning, herself a mother of two, shares sweet and savoury recipes that everyone will enjoy making and eating.
Anneka Manning

4 Jan 2016 - 11:00 AM  UPDATED 16 Feb 2016 - 3:07 PM

When we bake, we see, we smell, we taste, we hear and we feel — it’s an activity that engages all five senses. And this makes baking a powerful medium for teaching our children life skills, including some that aren’t particularly kitchen-related.

We often underestimate what kids can achieve in the kitchen, presuming that rolling a biscuit, decorating a cupcake or licking a bowl is their limit. But kids can be incredibly capable when it comes to baking — if they are supported, encouraged and given guidance. Of course they’ll probably love just doing the simple, fun and deliciously sweet jobs, but there are so many recipes that will engage, teach and entertain them, and that they will love eating when they finish.

I have watched the way the act of baking enriches young people ever since I started holding regular kids’ cooking sessions back when my own children were still little ones. It’s not just knowledge about baking that kids absorb during such sessions — there are so many other things they pick up along the way.

I just love that kids have a never-failing enthusiasm and are completely in awe when it comes to the science of baking.

Whisking, stirring, rolling, mashing, icing and cutting help get the job done, as well as helping the development of fine motor skills. Experimentation and problem-solving are big when you bake, and kids love the chance to predict what may happen when a bunch of ingredients come together or when they are mixed in a certain way — so there’s a tick for development of cognitive skills. I just love that kids have a never-failing enthusiasm and are completely in awe when it comes to the science of baking. 

Being introduced to words such as the names of utensils (spatula and whisk), the state of food (stiff and tender) and baking techniques (kneading, squeezing and beating) does wonders to extend a child’s vocabulary. 

Also, kids feel proud of what they create and love to share the rewards with their friends and family. The smiles are always huge and the development of positive self-esteem and self-confidence is guaranteed. 

Baking and cooking with your children is as much about the experience you are creating for them as what you are teaching them. What they learn through baking will help equip them for life beyond the four walls of a kitchen. It gives them lasting memories, a framework they can apply to other tasks and a way they can communicate with others. 

When it comes down to it, baking is simply a great thing to do with your kids. It has all the right elements from a kid’s perspective: it’s creative, it can be messy, it’s exciting and, most importantly, it gives results that you can eat, share and enjoy. And from a parent’s perspective, baking with their children will nurture conversations, inspire creativity and encourage discovery. A beautiful, worthwhile and tasty pastime, indeed.


Cook Anneka's recipes

1. Baked pumpkin gnocchi

2. Marbled meringue pops

3. Sticky cinnamon chocolate scrolls

4. Chocolate self-saucing jar puddings 

Chocolate self-saucing pudding jars

5. Malted milk domino biscuits

6. Baked Thai-style meatballs


Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest.

Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O’Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish. Creative concept by Lou Fay.

View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes.