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Christmas baking with kids

Hannah Jolliffe / 22 December 2016 ( 30 November 2020 )

Children love baking, and there are endless ways to give your cakes, biscuits and sweets a simple festive spin. And when the sugar gets too much, try our ideas for some healthier alternatives.

Grandmother baking with child
Christmas is the perfect time to encourage your grandchildren to bake

What you’ll need

See the individual ideas below for specific ingredients. Other basic items that will come in handy include: aprons, Christmas-shaped cutters, icing sugar, sweets and sprinkles to decorate, icing and food colouring, and piping bags (or buy ready-to-use tubes).

Keeping children interested

Children can get easily distracted when cooking. Start by giving them some options and letting them choose what to make so that they feel part of it. Make sure the options are age-appropriate: not too many ingredients; simple steps that they can help with (mixing, using cutters and decorating are best); and a certain amount of novelty value. If you are cooking with different ages, get the older children to help with the trickier tasks like measuring, and the younger ones to mix and decorate.

Here are our suggestions to get you started…

Christmas cookies

Start with a basic biscuit recipe, such as cinnamon biscuits or these easy Christmas biscuits. Both recipes are easy to make and only need a few ingredients, so children won’t get bored at the measuring and mixing stage.

Help children roll the dough to the right thickness and then give them a selection of Christmas cutters to create their shapes. The fun part comes when they are cooked and cooled – get creative with icing, sprinkles and sweets – we love these Santa stars!

Star biscuits

A different take on the Christmas cake

Let’s be honest, a heavy fruit cake is rarely the top of a child’s ‘favourite cake to eat’ list, so why not bake something together that they’ll enjoy?

A simple sponge can quickly be transformed into your grandchild’s chosen winter theme with a sprinkling of icing sugar. Make a template – such as the snow angel on the snow angel cake, or a star or stocking – and Put a small blob of sticky tape on your template and place on your cake (tape facing up - this will make it easier to lift the angel off.) Lightly dust the icing sugar over the template then remove the card to leave the shape. Let them choose the fillings, such as whipped cream, icing, fruit, jam or lemon curd.

Get creative with cupcakes

Children love cupcakes – there’s something so satisfying about making and decorating mini cakes, and of course, eating a whole one yourself! Younger children can simply use red, green, silver and gold cake toppings to give them a festive look. Older children may like to create something more sophisticated – these reindeer cupcakes use broken pretzels for antlers and glaze cherries for noses and will look great on any festive plate.

Use this basic cupcake mix to get started

Reindeer cupcakes

No bakes

If you’re after an instant reward, choose something that doesn’t need cooking. Rocky road is always a favourite with little ones - give it a festive twist with dried cranberries, ginger nut biscuits in place of digestives and some grated orange zest.

Marshmallow snowmen are super-simple to make and are a real treat, either on their own or in a mug of hot chocolate. Use pretzel sticks for the arms and legs (and to stick the head and body together) and sweets and dark icing to give them a face and buttons.

Find out how to make the best hot chocolate

Snowman hot chocolate

Healthy treats

Sugar levels can quickly go into overload at Christmas time, so look for some fruity and savoury alternatives to throw into the mix. Arranging colourful fruit into a Christmas tree shape will encourage children to dive in. And these Santa hats will go down a treat. Everyone loves strawberries and cream, and children will have lots of fun making them with a can of squirty cream!

Strawberry santas

Finally, don’t forget the Christmas classic – cheesy stars and straws. Ask children to help you roll and cut the pastry and top with grated cheese for a baked treat that side-steps the sugar.

Try this recipe for cheese straws and rounds

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.