When I'm in the kitchen, my 5-year-old daughter, Lila, likes to hang out with me. But sometimes it's hard to find something she can help with while I'm making dinner. That's when she takes matters into her own hands and makes a "marinade" that she thinks I can "use to make dinner later that week." Or she makes "dessert" for later. (Actually, the peanut butter/jam/coconut/whipped cream concoction didn't taste as bad as it looked.)
That's why I love this recipe for Irish Soda Bread with Raisins by Joy Howard so much: Kids can help with (almost) every part of the recipe! Parents can share some interesting tidbits and cooking lessons as you go. And the delicious results are something that everyone will enjoy sharing together.
Ready to get baking? This recipe for includes tips for what kids can help with along the way.
Pictured Recipe: Irish Soda Bread with Raisins
Prep: 15 minutes
Ready in: 1½ hours (including 30 minutes cooling time)
You'll need to preheat the oven to 425°F. Lila is learning her numbers right now, so I put a chair in front of it and let her push the numbers on the control panel.
Kids can: Measure 4½ cups white whole-wheat flour, ½ cup each currants and golden raisins, 1 tablespoon caraway seeds and 1 teaspoon each baking soda and kosher salt in a large bowl, then stir until the ingredients are well-combined.
If your child doesn't like currants or raisins, feel free to swap in other dried fruit they like (cut up larger pieces, like dried apricots) or omit them all together. The caraway seeds are optional, as well.
Trivia time: Did you know? Dried currants have little to do with fresh ones. Made from a miniature black grape variety called Zante, their label as "currants" likely is due to an incorrect translation of their city of origin, Corinth, in Greece.
Be sure to use a cast-iron skillet for this recipe. Cast-iron amasses more thermal energy per pound than other cooking mediums, so it gets hotter faster. This means a crunchier crust on bread.
Adults: Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and add 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, swirling to coat the bottom and sides.
Kids can: The child can gradually mix in 2¼ cups buttermilk, stirring just until the flour is fully incorporated. Do not overmix. (Some kids have a hard time with that, so pay attention or your bread will be tough!) The dough should be sticky and a little shaggy.
Trivia time: When baking soda is mixed with an acid (in this case buttermilk) and exposed to heat, a chemical reaction is unleashed that releases carbon dioxide. The CO2 produces pockets of air that make this bread rise.
Adults: Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, using a spatula to spread it evenly. It's OK if it doesn't reach all the way to the sides.
Together you can: Use a sharp knife to score a deep X in the top of the loaf.
The adult can: Transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until cooked through and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing into 12 pieces.
The adult can: Turn the oven light on while the bread bakes.
The child can: Sit in front of the oven while the bread bakes and tell you when it starts to rise. #oldschoolscreentime