This week, for the final week of “cooking the books” with the Petits Chefs for the term, I decided to make a sweet treat from The Redpath Canadian Bake Book, which I wrote about last year when it came out:
Redpath Sugar has been a staple in kitchens across Canada for more than 160 years and this year, they released their first first full cookbook with over 200 recipes highlighting Canada’s culinary traditions. With chapters featuring Cookies, Bars & Brownies, Muffins & Breakfast Treats, Cakes & Shortcakes, Cupcakes & Other Small Cakes, Frostings, Icings & Decorating Basics, Pies, Cheesecakes & Favourite Fruit Desserts, Holidays & Special Occasions, Breads, Quick Breads & Doughnuts, Puddings, Custards & Sauces as well as Candies, this is a baking bible for all year round. There’s an excellent section at the front of the book called The Baker’s Kitchen where essential ingredients and equipment are listed. This is a book to pore over, dreaming of future treats…
There are so many recipes in this book that I know the boys would love but as we only have an hour in club, it’s always a challenge to find a recipe that will work in such a short timeframe. I couldn’t stop looking at the photo of the Breakfast Fruit Pastries (aka homemade pop tarts) and I figured if I made the dough in advance, we’d have a fighting chance!
To be perfectly transparent, these photos don’t tell the whole story by a long shot. This session was pretty hectic (even by my standards!) – 14 boys in a cramped space plus a ticking clock plus dough is a recipe for a lot of noise and mess (these are the photos/ videos I don’t share LOL!). But in the end, with the
threat suggestion of not being able to take home any of the finished product, the boys got it together to produce adorable little pop tarts (albeit varying wildly in thickness and size = #reallife).
We don’t have a fridge/ freezer in close proximity but we DO have a wall of windows which is where we cool things when we need them to cool quickly. Probably the only time I’ll say winter in Canada is a benefit…
A couple of things this post made me think about:
1. Yes, I made a sweet treat with the boys. A homemade version of a store-bought favourite that’s highly processed. This version? Not processed at all: flour, sugar, butter, cream, eggs, jam and a little glaze and sprinkles. I think it’s ok for kids to indulge in a treat from time to time, especially if it’s homemade. If they’re going to have a treat, they might as well learn to make it themselves, right? I’ve recently had a couple of conversations about teaching kids to cook which were solely focused on the nutritional aspect (i.e. suggesting kids should only learn how to make healthy food). I say everything in moderation and homemade is better than store-bought (not to mention all the skills that go along with learning to make your own treats).
2. This session was probably one of the more hectic sessions we’ve had in club recently. End-of-term excitement (March Break is nigh) combined with a less-than-ideal space to work in, combined with an overly ambitious (for the amount of time) recipe = craziness. The kind of scene that might make some people think twice about cooking with kids. But you know what? Though at the time it was crazy, a lot of boys made sure to thank me (more than once) at the end of the session (they generally do but this week it felt kind of like they knew how challenging this had been! Kids know stuff, you know!) and a number of the boys came up to me the next day to tell me how much they enjoyed their treat. And even though someone accidentally put a paper towel in the washing machine (again #reallife) and I spent close to 30 minutes dealing with that the next day, it was still all worth it. Would I do it again? Probably (because I like to get stuff right). Would I do it differently? I would. Because at the end of the day, cooking with the boys is all about lessons for me as well.
Disclosure: I received a copy of The Redpath Canadian Bake Book for review purposes from the publisher. I was not asked to write about these books, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions my own.