It has become a tradition for each of the classes to make a cake to donate and this year I worked with the youngest class. The theme of the fair was "beach party" and after a lot of thought I decided to go with a simple beach ball cake. I wasn't sure if the final result would have any resemblance to a beach ball, but it turned out surprisingly well.
Baking with kids is always an adventure, working with 12 kids who are 3 years old it is an even greater adventure. I have been doing cakes with the preschool classes for a few years now and have figured a few things out along the way:
- Less is definitely more: for the first couple of years I tried to give the kids lots of choices and include them in many of the steps. This became too overwhelming for everyone. I still want them to be a part of the process, so now I give them 3 colors to choose from and we mix one batch of icing together. The same with piping tips, I show them 3 different tips and the styles each tip makes. They then vote on one tip to use.
- Have Samples: the kids are going to stick their fingers in the frosting. It is much easier to be prepared for this than try and stop it. By having a bowl of frosting they can stick their little fingers in there is a slightly less chance they will go for the cake - when you see them going for the cake, offer the bowl.
- Keep the demo short and give lots of hands on time: I like to build the cake in front of the kids and have them guess what we are making. Once the cake is built I take one or two kids at a time to help decorate while the other kids are playing or working on something else.
- Have fondant: Not all of the kids want to try to piping and with the really little ones some aren't strong enough to squeeze the bag, so it is nice to have something they can easily do on their own.
- Have fun: sometimes the best cakes are the ones where the kids take over. Let them squeeze frosting and spread it around, the cake might not be pretty to us, but to the kids it will be the best cake ever.