A few months past his second birthday, Augie got interested in baking. It was make-believe at first. It began when he stuck a wooden drumstick into the narrow neck of an old crockery milk jug and jiggled it around...part of his process of trying the drumsticks on every surface to test the sound. One day I heard him say, "stir the cake." Apparently the sound reminded him of his mom baking, something she had begun to do a lot. Soon he was assembling a cooking area with a pretend oven (the space beneath an end table), a cookie sheet (the Duplos base), bowls and measuring cups (stacking cups and other found objects), and cupcakes (small tins of cat food).
At home, he started helping Mommy bake. Then they found a couple of kids' picture-cookbooks so he could make things "all by myself." Before long, Grandma Anita sent him his own aprons and measuring spoons. Making muffins, popovers, and pancakes became a regular activity.
Mind you, he's just turned 33 months, and while he has many surprising abilities (like being interested in baking!), his fine-motor skills are strictly age-appropriate. Mommy warned us of that when we decided to make muffins here this week.
I chose a simple blueberry muffin recipe from one of his books. His mom commented that the recipe didn't seem very good. I knew it was basic, but I wanted something easy for our first effort, and I thought oh, well, she's gotten to be a baking snob. This will be plenty good for the rest of us. (See the foreshadowing there?)
We had fun making the muffins. Augie wants to move fast, and once or twice I was out of position--dashing for a different mixing spoon, for example--and Pa had to reach in to keep him from dumping the wet ingredients into the dry before everything was ready. Filling the muffin cups was the biggest challenge--he wants to do it himself but needed some help if batter was actually going to get into the cups. I thought we worked out an okay compromise, and I evened out the batter once he was done.
Meanwhile, I gave Vi some sugar and cinnamon to stir, just to keep her busy. She did a great job, so I spooned that on top of the muffins. They looked great. We baked them, and they looked even greater. See how pretty they are?
The paper came off the first one beautifully. But when I broke the muffin in half, it crumbled. Uh-oh. I served it with a flourish anyway: "Here's a muffin that Augie and Vi made! Isn't it beautiful!" He tried a tiny bite, and set it down. From then on, they picked out the blueberries. Everything else turned into dry little crumbs, which scattered everywhere.
Abby was right; the recipe was much too plain to make good muffins. And with one bite, Augie knew it, too.
We'll probably bake with the kids again some day, but we've learned that if Augie the Muffin Man is going to eat it, it had better be good. This child knows about baking!