When I look back at all the fun things I've done with the Madhouse kids throughout their childhood, some of the best memories are spending time in the kitchen, rustling up sweet (and savoury) treats for the whole family to enjoy together. Not only has this given them the skills and confidence to try new things in the kitchen, all that measuring and cutting into portions is a great way to test their maths skills without them even realising it. Quite frequently, I halve or double up on quantities just to get them to calculate all the new measurements as we go (but shh, don't tell them !)
Someone who shares my joy at getting the kids some hands-on experience in the kitchen is Mrs Bun The Baker. After starting out as Head of Food Tech at a secondary school, she developed a cookery school so that she could spend more time with her son and help kids develop their kitchen skills. This activity moved online during lockdown, opening her up to a wider audience. Make Bake Celebrate is her third book and we were delighted to receive a signed copy.
I always start a new cookbook by scrolling through the recipe index (or flicking through the pages, if there isn't one) to see what is hiding inside. I love the way that this book works its way through the year, covering recipes that highlight various celebrations - 3 Kings Bread for Epiphany, Heart Cake for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day Loaf, Simnel Cookies for Easter, Father's Day Medals, Camping S'mores for the summer holidays, Back to School Biscuits, Witch's Fingers for Halloween, Bonfire Bread for Guy Fawkes Night, Christmas Scones and Christmas Pudding Biscuits. Any of these recipes could be tied in with storytimes or project work on the different celebrations. Similarly, the recipes are a great way of introducing kids to a variety of countries - Wales (Welsh Cakes), America (Key Lime Pie), France (Chaussons aux Pommes), Italy (Pasta Cannelloni), Mexico (Mexican Bowls and Guacamole), India (Mango Kulfi), Central and Eastern Europe (Latkes). Internet is a great source of fun, kid-friendly projects such as wordsearches and simple crafts that would tie in perfectly with the recipes.
The recipes are very simple to follow with short texts that aren't too complicated for children to decipher. The instructions have been thought out for youngsters and there are various suggestions for making things simpler or more appealing to young chefs - for example, in this recipe for Soda Bread, you can split the dough into several pieces to make smaller rolls, making it easier to manipulate for little hands. There are also ideas for changing the flavours, replacing sun dried tomatoes with olives, rosemary, pumpkin seeds or cheese. There's nothing worse than realising you have an ingredient missing or knowing that your kids will turn up their nose at something in the dish, so these ideas are always appreciated !
Even as a grown-up, the book offers simple techniques that I'd never thought of. Who knew that making a cake with a hidden heart inside was so simple ?!
As well as being simple to create, the results are visually appealing and guaranteed to get even fussy eaters to have a taste.
Even young children who can't read can follow the recipes in picture form and for beginner readers, the words used next to pictures are a great way of reinforcing reading practice, once again without the kids even noticing !
This is a great book on so many levels. As well as containing fun cookery projects that kids of all ages can get involved in, it provides lots of delicious treats that the whole family will enjoy. On top of that, it offers insight into different cultures and celebrations and reinforces learning in maths and reading. What more could you ask for ?!
Disclosure : I reviewed a copy of the book in order to write my review.