Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Most Delicious of Misshapen Muffins

I know that the thought of cooking with a toddler can bring images of messy countertops and unappetizing baked goods. But, I still melted the day that my 2 1/2 year old son asked me if we could cook together for the first time. "We make cupcakes, Mommy?" We had only cooked one other time, making somewhat edible chocolate cookies. The reality is that R's allergy to eggs definitely makes baking sweets a bit challenging. Once again, Baking Without Eggs by Rosemarie Emro came to our rescue. Rather than make cupcakes, in the interest of healthy cooking and eating, I made her applesauce muffins. (I still called them "cupcakes" and, luckily, at 2 1/2 R. doesn't yet know the difference!)

Just as I had done the first time, I prepared most of the ingredients in advance so that R. could do most of it himself, with minimal mess. So, after nap time a string of measuring cups were all laid out. R. was excited just to put the items in a bowl and stir. I let him add as many raisins as he wanted-really the perfect toddler item for baking. I realized that one of the joys of skipping eggs was that I had no worries about him liking the spoon, the bowl, the measuring cups-all of it!

The biggest uncertainty came when we finally had to pour the muffins in the pan. R. is in the typical toddler phase in which he insists that he does everything himself. And after all the cooking together, I wanted to give him the chance to make them from start to finish. I am not a perfectionist baker by any means, so it didn't take much for me to let go of any image of big beautiful muffins. Instead, I gave R. a spoon and a cup and let him measure and pour and fill. And he did a great job.

Of course I put them in the oven, but I turned on the oven light so he could watch them bake. And ultimately (and a big surprisingly), they were delicious. They were moist, lightly scented with cinnamon and apple and stayed fresh for a few days. And R. couldn't have been more proud.

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