There’s a photograph somewhere, of me baking with my grandma. I’m on a step-stool, sleeves rolled up, and I’m wearing an apron that was probably a flour sack in its former life. Grandma is supervising my determined cookie-rolling, a smile on her face. She is calm. I remember the experience probably just through that photograph. I wouldn’t have been more than four. I want that kind of experience with my daughter. Those precious moments she can look back at and remember, even if it’s through the pictures taken.
So I decided to make a summer version of my favorite Christmas Cranberry Cake – adding fresh blackberries and lime. It’s such a simple cake, so I had my daughter help me. And in return, she proceeded to help me along the road I’m on to becoming the person I need to — want to — be. *Warning: There are no serene, photos ahead.*
Here are my notes:
If you want to bake with a three-year-old, be prepared to learn.
Not patience. Well, not just patience.
You’ll need your humbleness. And remember to say you’re sorry, when busy hands dump your floured berries into the sink and you squawk, “NO!”
Be prepared to discover just how much of a control freak you are.
You’re about to learn just how many ways, “Add this into the bowl,” can be translated. At least three, for us.
Be prepared to clean your microwave because you forgot the butter that was only supposed to be softened, but then you needed to apprehend the zester out of small, tender hands, and only remembered the butter 30 seconds later, when the timer beeped.
Butter is almost as good as lotion. And tastes better. And is now all over my counters and floor after a frantic dance to get it into the mixer.
That melted butter is akin to spilled milk. No weeping, necessary. Perhaps just a deep sigh will do.
You’ll answer at least a hundred questions about what things are, and as you’re carefully measuring things for her to put in the bowl, she’ll be smearing your cut lime in the residual egg white on the counter from when you cracked the eggs.
You’ll wrestle at least one measuring cup away from her, thus smattering it… everywhere.
You probably needed to wash your floors, anyway.
Teach her to share the beater. Even though we’re not “supposed” to, nowadays, what with the flour and the salmonella. Just one lick, though. Okay, probably three. Then put it straight in the dishwasher to remove temptation.
Be prepared to have a happy kiddo. To have a home that smells beautifully as the cake bakes up.
Edited to add the link to the Christmas Cranberry Cake recipe on which I based this recipe.