Saturday, August 31, 2013

How to Make Pancakes with a Toddler

One of my favorite things to do is cook, especially when I get to try a new recipe, and there's plenty of time to just enjoy creating something. I've wanted to include E, and I'm finding that, even as a toddler, there's so much she can help with in the kitchen. Also, anything that involves mixing, water, and getting messy is a big hit with kids her age, so it keeps her engaged.

She's stable on her feet, so I let her stand on a chair at the counter, out of reach of the stove, of course!

I have to note this first, because I'm the type of person who initially imagines how this is going to play out in my head, and it's like a scene out of an episode of the Brady Bunch -- pristine kitchen, child in an apron, stirring steadily, mother and daughter happily smiling at each other...: Expect a mess. On the Brady Bunch, there wasn't really batter in that bowl, and that family was being paid a lot of money to look happy all time.
  1. Have your camera handy, but not too close to the cooking area. My phone was almost cooked into a pancake.
  2. Find a mixing bowl that isn't too deep, that your toddler can see into.*
  3. Give her a spoon. She can begin pretending to stir while you gather your ingredients (see below for the recipe I used).
  4. As you'll see below, I substitute applesauce (or any kind of pureed fruit) for egg. This is because, your child is going to eat the batter at some point and, if they're anything like my darling daughter, will use the spoon as a catapult to fling batter at you and everything else in a 6-foot radius.
  5. If you want, pour your ingredients into a separate bowl, one a time, and let your child pour into the main mixing bowl. E loves pouring, so it really keeps her interested.
  6. Let her stir. Even if more ends up outside the bowl than in. It's just so cute.
  7. Take pictures.
  8. Let her dig her hands into the batter, eat it, wipe it on her shirt, in her hair.
  9. Take more pictures!
  10. Get your pan ready.

    *Before E was big enough to stir, I would put all of my ingredients for a cake or muffins into a big Ziploc bag, seal it up, and let E mix the ingredients by playing with the bag, mashing it with her hands, or stomping it with her feet. Just make sure to squeeze out any excess air before sealing it, to keep the bag from popping.
Here are a few ideas to keep your toddler busy while you cook the pancakes, or at least the first one for them to eat:
  1. Let her spoon a enough batter for each pancake into a separate bowl or bowls. E didn't want to do this, so I tried something different:
  2. Move her to the sink to rinse the bowls, spoons, and measuring cups you used. I use a strainer to keep the dishes within her reach. Of course, all she really did was pour water in and out of everything, but it did rinse the dishes and kept her busy until her pancake was ready.
  3. While she eats, finish using the rest of the batter. This recipe only makes about 4 medium-sized pancakes, so it was quick.
  4. Clean up whenever. By the time we were done, every inch of E was covered in batter and maple syrup, so she got a bath first.
Once I learned to let go of the messiness and the fact that there was going to be baby backwash in our pancakes, this ended up being a really fun thing to do together! I hope you enjoy cooking with your little one!

The recipe:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. white sugar (or more to taste)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c. applesauce (or 1 baby fruit pouch)
1 c. milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

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