Cookery author Sue Quinn argues why we should let kids bake their cake and eat it after dentists said their should be a school sugar ban – The Sun

THE school bake sale has long been a tradition, like the nativity play and sports day – but now it is under threat after a group of dentists urged a total sugar ban for pupils.

The Sun told yesterday how the Faculty of Dental Surgery wants to tackle increasing levels of tooth decay in children by demanding the only sugars allowed in our schools are those that naturally occur in fruit and vegetables.

But is there not something to be said for children being encouraged to get involved in baking?

Here, cook book author Sue Quinn defends the school bake sale and argues it is important that children learn to cook the food they love the most.

'Let kids bake their cake…and eat it'

By Sue Quinn

CONTRARY to what the killjoys say, baking is good for children’s health. Encouraging kids to cook is one of the best things you can do for their long-term wellbeing.

If they don’t know how to nourish themselves there’s good evidence they’ll head for a diet of takeaways and highly processed foods when they’re older.

And this is the stuff that really causes chronic health problems — not the occasional slice of cake.

The truth is, in order for kids to want to cook, they need to cook the food they want to eat, at least in the beginning.

Wouldn’t it be great if that meant salad and steamed fish? A nice wholemeal loaf and roast vegetables? Take it from me — having cooked with dozens of children, this isn’t how it works.

Children simply love to bake. Like adults, they’re fascinated by the alchemy that transforms a sticky batter into a delicious sponge or a batch of cookies.

Of course, they love to eat the results of their endeavours, too, but in the process they’re learning. As well as encouraging children to love to cook, baking teaches them important lessons.

There’s maths as they learn to weigh and measure out ingredients.

It boosts their knowledge of science, too, as they witness the magical chemical reactions that turn a mix of flour, eggs, sugar and butter into cake through the application of heat.

Then there is health and safety. Through cooking, children discover how to handle hot pans, use an oven with care and find their way around the kitchen without hurting themselves.

It also teaches valuable lessons in the importance of cleaning up. Crucially, in contrast to what the naysayers say, baking teaches children nutrition.

Youngsters aren’t stupid — baking presents an opportunity to reinforce the message they are probably all too familiar with already, that consuming lots of sugar isn’t good for them and cakes and bakes are an occasional treat.

No one is suggesting children be allowed to eat cake every day. What’s more, baking is joyful.

It’s an opportunity for mums, dads, friends and siblings to put down their screens and come together in the kitchen. While stirring, weighing and licking batter off their fingers, children feel free to chat.

Anyone who bakes with children can attest to the extraordinary conversations that can happen over the mixing bowl, and the comforting sense of satisfaction of sitting down together to eat the results.

Demonising particular foods like cakes and bakes, and categorising food as good or evil, can encourage children to develop unhealthy relationships with food.

In some extreme cases, dietitians have told me, this can even lead to eating disorders. Let’s be sensible. Bakes and bake sales should be celebrated, not demonised.

There are much more important health and nutrition issues for us to get in a lather about.

  • The Kids Only Cookbook by Sue Quinn (Quadrille £12.99) 

Make-it-up cupcakes

(Makes 16)

You need:

  • 220g self-raising flour
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 220g softened butter
  • 4 eggs

For the icing:

  • 400g icing sugar
  • 100ml lemon juice or milk
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)
  • Sugar sprinkles (optional)


Use your imagination and add your favourite ingredients to make these cupcakes your own.

  1. Set the oven to 180C/160C/gas 4.
  2. Place the flour and sugar in a large bowl, add the butter and crack in the eggs.
  3. Mix well so that all the ingredients are combined and the batter is pale, smooth and fluffy.
  4. Now is the time to gently stir in any extra ingredients, if you are using them.
  5. Line a muffin tin with paper cases. This makes 16 cupcakes, so you will need two tins or cook them in two batches. If the cases aren’t staying in place, wipe a little butter in the holes of the tray and press down the cases so that they stick.
  6. Spoon the batter into the cases until three-quarters full.
  7. Place in the oven and set the timer for 18 minutes.
  8. It’s now time to lick your fingers and tidy up.
  9. When the timer goes off, check the cupcakes. They should have risen and be lightly golden.
  10. Stick a toothpick into one and if it comes out clean, they are ready.
  11. If there is batter stuck to the toothpick, cook the cupcakes for another two minutes – then leave to cool in the tray for a bit before lifting them on to a wire rack.
  12. When they are completely cold, you can ice them if you like.
  13. To make the icing, mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice or milk in a bowl – then add the cocoa powder if you want chocolate icing.
  14. Spoon icing on to each cake. A top tip is to spread out the icing with a wet finger, to make it really smooth.
  15. Add sprinkles if you like.

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