As a child in the kitchen, "you have Mom or Dad behind you" when you're trying to figure things out, whether it's how to use the mixer or how to prepare batter for baking, says Mat Lanfant, co-owner of The Cooking Lab in Port Washington. But here, "they're on their own." It's a "learning experience."
At baking classes for kids, including The Cooking Lab's doughnut-making class, not only are youngsters learning the trade, but they're also aquiring skills they can utilize in their own kitchen.
Donna Sesto, the owner of Babylon Mercantile in Babylon, says her students, especially the repeat ones, "come in to us and they know their stuff." They understand and can now make their own desserts at home, she says.
For those who'd rather learn in their own space, ready-to-use baking kits are also available, via places like Celebrations in the Kitchen in Hicksville, which offers cookie cakes, doughnuts, chocolate candy pops, cake truffles and ice cream cone cupcake baking kits. These are meant to "take all of the nitty-gritty and detail work that's necessary to bake something" and make it easier for the kids and parents to use, says Michael Marretta, co-owner of Celebrations in the Kitchen.
"It's very difficult for people" to get everything that they need and "actually bake something and have it come out right," he adds. "Baking is much more exact than cooking. So it does not lend itself well to make mistakes."
Here are four workshops where kids can learn how to bake their own sweet treats.
Cinnamon rolls at Babylon Mercantile
Bakers-in-training can sign up for the Babylon Mercantile’s cinnamon roll workshop where they can learn how to make an “extra-gooey” version of the staple.
During this workshop, children (starting at age 8) learn how to make yeasted dough, cinnamon-sugar filling and icing (made of milk and powdered sugar) from scratch. Throughout the process, children learn how to measure ingredients and how to use a rolling pin and childproof cutlery, as well as a proofer.
Each child works at a station with another child, or for those participating in the “parent and me” classes (6-14 years old), with their parent. Workshops, open to the public and for private events, are about two hours long, with more than an hour devoted to hands-on baking. The outdoor patio can be utilized for the remainder of the class.
Each child leaves with five cinnamon rolls, plus raw dough for at least another five rolls, any leftover ingredients and the recipe with baking instructions. A spot can be reserved online or by calling the store.
Also available: workshops on making crepes, cookies, cakes, scones, cream puffs and éclairs.
WHEN | WHERE Classes held at least once a month on weekend mornings or weekdays after school at 45 E. Main St., Babylon.
FEE $65 per child; $135 for child and parent
INFO 631-818-1100; babylonmercantile.com
Cupcake decorating or baking at Baking Coach
At this nearly 20-year-old baking school headed by Lisa Basini, children can learn how to make cupcakes in flavors like carrot, red velvet and pumpkin spice, plus cream cheese- and buttercream-based frostings, in flavors like lemon, marshmallow, chocolate and vanilla.
Bakers work independently at their own stations, where they also learn how to mix and measure ingredients, techniques of pouring the batter into the cupcake pan, and how to apply frosting. Each child leaves with at least 16 cupcakes.
For its cupcake decorating class, children learn the techniques of decorating already-baked cupcakes — this encompasses how to mold and color fondant, how to color frosting and what tips to use for certain designs using frosting. Kids in this class can expect to leave with about eight cupcakes.
Each workshop is about two hours long and is divided by skill set — basic: for all ages; under 12 must be accompanied by an adult; children workshops (9-14 years old; drop-off only); and supported skill workshops (15 and older who need extra support). Sign up on the website or by calling the Baking Coach.
Also available: workshops on making Pop-Tart-like pastries, specialty cookies, pies, gingerbread houses and chocolate-dipped candy.
WHEN | WHERE Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. and Sept. 26 at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. at 320 Broadway-Greenlawn Rd., Huntington
FEE $85 per child; with an adult, an additional $35
INFO 631-543-8608; bakingcoach.com
Baked doughnuts at The Cooking Lab
During a 90-minute workshop at this recreational cooking school, kids learn the ins-and-outs of baking doughnuts (here made of vanilla cake) and making their own glaze (in flavors like strawberry, raspberry and orange) all the while learning how to use equipment like mixers, baking pans and pastry bags.
Each kid leaves with six doughnuts; must be at least 8 years old to participate. At least once a month, parent/child workshops are available, where younger children are welcome. Workshops are offered to the public and for private sessions, too. Tickets can be purchased via thecookinglabpw.com.
Also available: workshops on making cream puffs, whoopie pies, apple tartlets, napoleons and crepes.
WHEN | WHERE Sept. 18 at 10 a.m. and Oct. 10 at 10:30 a.m. at 160 Main St. in Port Washington
INFO 516-570-0050; thecookinglabpw.com
Sugar cookies at Celebrations in the Kitchen
Kids as young as 4 years old get to work hands-on with cookie dough, learning how to knead it, mix it, roll it and stretch it while becoming familiar with essentials like rolling pins and cookie cutters. On top of that, they get to decorate their dozen-or-so treats with toppings like sprinkles and chocolate chips or icing. Cookie workshops are available to the public and for private experiences.
Each workshop is an hour long and takes place in a nut-free facility, which also caters to vegans, gluten-free and dairy-free customers.
Also available: workshops on making doughnuts, cupcakes, confectionary pizza and cake decorating.
WHEN | WHERE Classes are on an “availability basis” at 63 E. Old Country Rd. in Hicksville
FEE $49 to $59
INFO 516-396-2193; celebrationsinthekitchen.com