For most people the drawing in of the evenings as sunny August turns to cooler September is the real sign of autumn. Not for us, though. Here at Harvey Jones, our marker for the run into shorter days, apple harvests and leaves turning from lush greens to rich amber tones is the start of The Great British Bake Off. To celebrate all things Bake Off, we discuss the best baking utensils and how you can keep your kitchen fun and child friendly when baking this autumn.
Amazingly, this is the 10th year, and the third at its new C4 home with Prue, Sandy and Noel joining the ever-cheery, ever-present Paul Hollywood. There is a great mix of contestants, including a support worker from Rotherham, a fashion designer living in London and an HGV driver from Rainham. This year’s Baker’s dozen (yep, one more than previous years) will start their 10 week journey to see who will finally triumph and their first test is to bake the birthday cake they wish they’d had as children.
Many of the contestants talk about learning to bake at home at a young age, including one of the youngest, 20-year-old Dan, who admits he was inspired by one of the first series of Bake Off when he was just 12.
Creating a kitchen that inspires children to bake is a fabulous way to get them away from computer screens and social media and learning a skill that will last them a lifetime. So how do you make sure your kitchen is child friendly and safe for a day of biscuit or cake baking?
If you have room, a prep island or peninsula, with plenty of workspace is perfect. If not, a good length of clear worktop giving plenty of elbow room. Making a mess is a prerequisite when wee ones start learning to cook, it’s part of the creative process, so adding a bin close to the worktop is key – in a cupboard below is perfect. Make sure your island includes plenty of plug points, too so you can easily use mixers, choppers and electric whisks without trailing wires everywhere.
If you don’t want loads of sockets all over your cupboards or splash back, consider a bank of sockets that rises up from the worktop when you need them and retracts neatly when not in use. Allocate cupboard space below for your key baking utensils such as mixers, cake tins, and measuring jugs. Of course, if you’ve got a lovely Artisan KitchenAid – as used in the Bake Off – or something similar, you’ll probably have that out on the worktop at all times!
Another great addition is a domino induction hob. These are particularly good for children’s baking days as they have huge variations of heat, meaning you can melt chocolate without the aid of a bain-marie, plus the surface doesn’t get as hot as gas or regular electric hobs – it’s the pan that heats not the hob itself – meaning there’s less chance of little fingers burning. Finally, if there’s space a prep sink will help to keep hands clean and mess contained to just one area of the kitchen!