My sister was all ready to send her four-year-old back to pre-school this week, until she found out the day before that it was remaining closed, possibly until after the summer break. As with many families, the stress of having to provide some homeschooling (yes, even for pre-school) was taking its toll, so I thought I’d step in and help out. My maths is atrocious, as is my art, so I thought I would teach my nephew how to make his favourite things: iced buns.
This was a little bit of a challenge as I’ve never made iced buns before either, but they had enough simple steps that I could break it down for a child. My sister weighed all the ingredients out for him before we started, and from then on he was on his own and I was in charge.
I tried to keep it light and fun by telling him to do “crab claws” when he was mixing the dry and wet ingredients, “tiger claws” for kneading, and regular dance party breaks – an important tool in any baker’s arsenal. Although he struggled a bit with the kneading, having to ask my sister for a little assistance, he was mostly attentive and engaged. I would ask him what the dough felt like, looked like, and smelled like at certain points to keep him connected to what he was making, and I’d try and give a quick explanation as to why – it’s yellow because of the eggs, it’s sticky from the water etc.
The best part and the one I know has stayed with him, is when we gave the dough it’s first rest. I told him we had to leave it for an hour so the dough could get really big and strong, and that it was going to grow because of the yeast. He put his ear to the covered bowl and told me he could hear the dough growing already! So cute. When we came back an hour later, he was so amazed by the growth in the dough, he thought we’d done a magic trick, which in a way I guess we had.
Although he lost interest after we came back the third time, to his credit he did all the steps mostly by himself. His iced buns looked a heck of a lot better than mine did, but he was more interested in eating the sugary icing than anything else.
Overall, I had a fun time, and I’m really glad I could help teach my nephew a little bit about the magic of making bread. In hindsight, I wish I’d gone with a simpler bread roll, but they’re not quite as exciting to eat!