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Try this foolproof recipe for cupcakes. It’s a wonderful mom-and-child bonding activity. Best of all, you get to enjoy a sweet treat when the baking is done.

Round up your children, let their creativity flow and have fun making these cupcakes. When I first started baking classes for children I wondered how well they would manage the measuring out, the mixing and the scooping of the batter into the cups, let alone the decorating side of things. But, to our amazement, even the four and five year olds managed to make the most amazing cupcakes. Most importantly, it was the joy of achievement on their faces when they saw what they had created, which made the teaching so fulfilling.

Of course, the children made a huge mess while going about it, licking their fingers, the bowls and the spoons, but I think that was a big part of the fun.

An all-round learning experience

The younger children learnt all about where eggs come from and what baking powder does. They also developed their fine motor skills – especially when decorating. The slightly older groups were interested in practising reading the recipes, using fractions to measure the ingredients and finding out why oil and milk don’t mix.

None of the children needed me to tell them how to decorate their cupcakes though. If we started off making flowers, we would end up creating monsters. Creative ideas flow easily from children and I do my best to encourage that. Once they grow up, they lose that sense of being uninhibited about their ideas. It’s something so precious in life that needs to be nurtured and encouraged in children.

At the end of the day, the product doesn’t need to be perfect. After all, it’s all about the experience. I grew up baking with my mother and grandmother, and gained a lot from those experiences. Now, watching the children do the same, learning something, and taking part in an activity that’s both rewarding and fun, is really fulfilling.

Find more foolproof cake and cupcake recipes for children here

Julie Donald has been teaching children how to bake for a number of years. Her website is:

Easy cupcakes

What you’ll need
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup castor sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Sift the dry ingredients together. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and beat well until smooth and creamy. Place six paper cups in a muffin tray and fill each three-quarters full. Bake at 180ºC for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Butter icing

What you’ll need
  • 100g butter
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • a little milk

Cream the soft butter with a wooden spoon and add the icing sugar and vanilla essence. Keep stirring until well mixed; add a little milk to make the mixture a spreadable consistency.

Julie Donald