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Baking Is A Family Affair

We’ve got a friend coming over tonight who just had a birthday, so the past couple of days we’ve been making cupcakes to give her. Monday evening I did the cupcakes, and last night we made the frosting.

The girls have always loved baking, but I didn’t quite realize how much they enjoy it until last night: Maddie and Cora were both upstairs playing with Daddy when Gamma turned on the stand mixer to start creaming the butter. Sixty seconds later, Cora came hurtling into the kitchen. Without saying a word, she ran over to the stool, slid it across the floor next to my mother and jumped up. “Cora help?” she said hopefully.

I think partly because I’ve got such fond memories of baking with my mom and grandmother, I’ve always tried to include Maddie and Cora in the kitchen. From a very early age, Maddie was standing on a stool in a miniature apron, wielding her own spatula and helping me spoon sugar and flour into mixing cups. I think she was the only two-year-old who had the basic cookie recipe memorized.

Sometimes I turned to baking in desperation: the day was cold and rainy and I was out of fun ideas, so I’d crank on the oven and make muffins. Something about the organized mess of baking always made a dreary morning pass quickly, and we’d have warm fragrant blueberry or cranberry muffins later to show for it.

Cora, of course, wants to do whatever Maddie does, and she’s become even more of a baking aficionado than her sister. I think all toddlers love to spoon and fill, but Cora also adores eating as she bakes. She’s always got to have a bowl of her own, and we put a bit of each (mostly) ingredient into her bowl as we go. I’ll always throw some whole oats in there, and some flour and wheat germ and powdered milk, maybe a bit of cinnamon, and if I add eggs to my batter I’ll add a splash of milk to hers. Cora thinks her creation is the greatest culinary experience ever, and she’ll happily spoon her soggy paste into her mouth, stirring briskly and eating the damp flour.

various_sept_pictures_141.jpgBoth girls have their “own” stool for baking, and each has started an apron collection – Gamma made both girls a custom-fit apron for Christmas, and they know the first thing they’ve got to do before baking is get dressed for it. I can’t imagine where they get that from, and I’m sure my own vintage apron collection has nothing to do with it . . .

Someday in the future I’m sure I’ll have to deal with girls who think happiness can always be found in a warm chocolate-chip cookie (can’t it?), but for now I’ll revel in the Pavlovian response of the sound of the stand mixer, followed by a little face peeping over the edge and a sweet voice asking, “Cora help?”


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