This month, The Great British Bake Off returned to BBC2. The programme pits 13 keen amateur bakers against each other to battle it out to be Bake Off Champion 2013. Each week, one is named star baker and one or two contestants have to say goodbye to the Bake Off tent and their hopes of baking stardom.
I've been watching this year's series with my two teenage children snuggled up beside me, gasping at the soggy bottoms, beautiful wobbles and perfect peaks and wondering how it is that a television programme about baking has caught the public's imagination.
A list of ingredients for its success would certainly include the show's presenters, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, with their kind and understated style. It would also include the judges, Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, who share sparkling blue eyes, with Mary's positivity countering Paul's unforgiving feedback. But the key ingredient for the programme's success is, perhaps, the baking itself - the sights and sounds of cakes, pastries and bread.
Baking has long been a key part of early years practice. It is an activity that easily lends itself to learning opportunities. Counting, weighing, and measuring are an integral part of the baking process, as is creativity in playing with ingredients and decoration. Children increase their knowledge of the world around them as they watch the dough rise or see what happens when baking powder meets vinegar.
Baking is, of course, great for the development of fine motor skills and language skills. But baking is also about building relationships, because having the opportunity to bake together and eat together builds a sense of community and belonging.
What can settings do?
- Make space and regular times for baking with the children in your setting
- Invite parents/carers in the community to bake with children in the setting
- Use a range of recipes from different cultures and communities
- Provide baking resources for role play
BBC: Baking with children, www.bbc.co.uk/food/collections/baking_with_children
Recipes for kids, http://kidszone.sailusfood.com
'The perfect recipe,' www.nurseryworld.co.uk/article/997947
'Baking time', www.nurseryworld.co.uk/article/718724
'Aprons on', www.nurseryworld.co.uk/article/1039926
'Bread and baking', www.nurseryworld.co.uk/article/765373.