Baking is one of those rare magical activities that our eight and six-year-old sons and four-year-old daughter all enjoy.
With the seventh season of The Great British Bake Off coming to an end tonight, ten weeks of family sofa discussions about creme pat and the merits of spelt flour will come to an end. That’s just as well because while the kids have become extremely knowledgeable about goings-on inside ‘the tent’ (note: these words must be uttered in hushed, reverential tones) I am, despite being a pretty decent cook myself, shamefully ignorant when it comes to the dark arts of bakery.
The children, however, are well versed in these matters. They bake cakes with the same gusto with which I eat them. And they needed no excuse to try out the new Real Baking range of child-focussed baking products from Vivid Toys.
The Great Baking Set (RRP £19.99) contains an intriguing variety of equipment specially designed with junior bakers in mind. This starter set contains two bowls, a non-slip suction base, three measuring spoons, an egg cracker, a silicone tray and cupcake cases, piping bags and an icing nozzle.
Let’s start with the egg cracker. This looked interesting enough in concept – insert egg, push down button to crack shell, collect contents for use in recipe – but in reality proved a triumph of style over substance. After a couple of minutes of faffing about trying to insert the egg properly, pushing down on the too-stiff button and then watching in horror (okay, mild consternation) as the egg suddenly disintegrated, mixing shell and egg together in a mess that ended up half over the worktop, we gave up and resorted to tried and trusted methods of cracking eggs with knives or over the edge of a bowl. Quicker, cleaner and less frustrating.
More useful, however, are the measuring spoons, mixing bowls and accompanying non-slip suction lock – simple, pleasingly colourful and they do the job required of them. The small size and non-slip functionality makes them easy for younger hands to handle – four-year-old Kara was particularly happy with them – although they’re not large enough for the volumes required of even the smallest recipe, so you will probably end up using standard-size mixing bowls and cups to hold your mixture anyway.
Of course, some elements of the baking process require equipment no more complex than a small child with a tongue and a sweet tooth …
The silicone tray is designed for making small cupcakes and works well, although the fact it only holds four at a time is challenging when you have three hungry mouths eager to sample the fruits of their labour. And the opportunity to show off some piping skills always goes down well in our household.
The kit is recommended for ages six and over, although in truth smaller kids will have no issues handling the equipment. Aside from the over-engineered and fiddly egg cracker, all the items are simple, efficient and feel sturdy enough that they will stand up to repeated use, allaying one of my biggest concerns when buying other junior kits of this nature.
However if you already have a budding Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry in the household as we do, I suspect your children will quickly outgrow this set and revert to using proper full-size kit. But as a means of drawing new bakers into the kitchen, the Great Baking Set represents a good introductory all-in-one starter kit. Not outstanding enough to earn a Star Baker award or a Hollywood handshake, but definitely not a candidate for being sent home either. Overall, it’s a good, affordable set that will tempt children to experiment with their soggy bottoms before hopefully moving on to the real thing (baking, not bottoms), which is most definitely something to be encouraged.
Other products in the Real Baking range include the Chocolate Pen (RRP £19.99), the Cookie Kit (RRP £14.99) and the mini Cake Pops Kit (RRP £9.99).
Disclosure: I was provided with this product for review purposes. However, all opinions are my own.