Monday, November 12, 2012

make a mess mondays | easy cake recipes for toddlers

It's been a while since I've posted one of our sensory play activities -- here's something we've been doing a lot around here lately: baking!

Lorelei is fascinated with making cakes -- when we see one in a book, she runs to the kitchen to point out her apron (actually one my grandmother made for me 30 years ago!). I had also forgotten how amazing it is to get to lick the batter off the spoon. Such pure delight every single time. So I've taken precautions to make sure we always bake cakes that are egg-free so my little taste-tester can sample as much as she wants.

I know in Bringing Up Bebe  (how do you do accent marks in Blogger? le sigh.) Pamela Druckerman talks about the classic French yogurt cake that even young toddlers can make, since it's all measured with a 6 oz. yogurt container (read one mom's experience here). I do something similar with Lorelei; during her nap, I get all the ingredients ready to go so she doesn't have to sit around waiting for me to use the can opener.

Easy Toddler Cake, Two Versions

version one:
one can pumpkin puree
one box Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Gingerbread mix*
1/2 cup raisins, craisins, chopped cranberries, currants, etc.

version two:
one can pumpkin puree
one box Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie mix*
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Dump all of the ingredients into a large bowl and stir until everything is mixed in. Spread into a prepared 8x8 pan and bake according to box directions (note: the gingerbread doesn't seem to need to go quite as long as it says -- start checking at 20 min.).

That's it! Lorelei would like you to know that periodically turning on the oven light to check on your cake is half of the fun.

*technically, you could do this with any boxed mix; I recommend these two because they are both trans-fat free, which is hard to find in prepared mixes.


  1. Oh What a great idea!! I am definitely going to be baking with Chloe very soon!

  2. Pumpkin! Great idea. We've been baking, too, but we do the whole big drawn out mess version of everything. Someone is always bored or upset by the end. I'll have to give these a try – I've been tempted to try the Bringing Up Bebe yogurt cake, too.

  3. So you really don't need eggs or oil? Very cool!

    1. Yep! It's a pretty standard way to 'veganize' a recipe - but in this case, I just do it because it makes it really easy for Lorelei. The resulting gingerbread/brownies are chewier than you would otherwise expect from following the recipe as directed, but we all think they are tasty anyway! I think some people have also tried this with banana and/or applesauce, too.

  4. Aw, she looks like she's having so much fun! I always forget to set up our baking activities when A is otherwise occupied, but it's so much more fun for all that way. How cool to have an heirloom apron, too!

  5. Oooh, what a great idea!
    ♥ Kyna

  6. Love that she has her own apron! Such a fun activity. D loves watching me cook but we haven't ventured much into *helping* me cook yet, something to try soon.

  7. lorelei just keeps getting cuter and cuter, for the record.

  8. I love this idea! E is super into helping in the kitchen at the moment so I think it might be a hit

  9. J loves baking too! You are (of course) more organized about the whole ordeal. I just let her sit on the counter and help me scoop and dump. Her favourite parts are cracking the eggs, dipping her hands in the flour mixture and the licking them, and of course cleaning off the spoon. It makes me a little crazy, but I try to go with it. It is hard to find the desire to bake anything when I can walk just 15 minutes and be at some very amazing bakeries though...

  10. This sounds like such a great idea! Your child is so adorable!

  11. One of the easiest cake recipes you can do at home and not even spending too much.