How to Bake a Cake with a Toddler

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Step 1

Wash your hands, put on an apron and set out all your ingredients and equipment. Preheat the oven. Peek into the living room and see that there's a jacked-up three-year-old racing around at top speed, buzzing like a bee. Retreat into the kitchen quickly before he sees you.

Step 2

Sift 2 cups of self-rising flour into your mixing bowl. Look up to find that you are being observed.

Offer to let the child "help" you make the cake. After he enthusiastically takes you up on the offer, wash his hands and tie the ends of a tea towel around his waist, an impromptu child's apron.

Step 3

Measure the butter into another mixing bowl. Glance up to find the kitchen suddenly empty again. Cream the butter and sugar together while keeping an ear open for suspicious sounds or sudden movements. Set aside.

Step 4

Return to the flour mixture. See something blue in the bowl. Fish out a small plastic Thomas the Tank Engine. Set the toy aside and discard the flour.

Step 5

Remeasure fresh flour and sift into bowl. Hear a crash from upstairs that seems to shake the foundations of the house. Exit kitchen and race upstairs to find an overturned toy chest. Toss toys back into chest.

Step 6

Return to the kitchen where three-year-old is spreading flour to all corners of the kitchen table. Breath deeply and count to 10 inside your head, the way you always do when you want to stay calm.

Attempt to hold onto any remaining Zen, but fail as three-year-old quickly upends the bowl of butter and sugar, breaking bowl. Spend the next ten minutes cleaning up.

Step 7

Remeasure fresh flour; re-cream the butter and sugar. Separate five eggs, adding the yolks to the butter and sugar mixture; set the whites aside. Child watches with angelic expression. Congratulate yourself on progress!

Step 8

Measure one cup of ground almonds into the flour mixture. Wonder where the three-year-old is as the doorbell rings. Head to the front door and accept a package. Return to kitchen, where the three-year-old is atop the kitchen table, eating the ground almonds not from the bag, which would be too easy, but from the bowl into which you measured them. Briefly worry that he's eaten raw self-rising flour. (False alarm.) Peer into the bowl to see if you can calculate just how much of the ground almonds have been consumed.

Step 9

Decide that a couple of tablespoonfuls of ground almonds would be more than enough to restore what was pilfered from the bowl. Ignore the fact that sticky fingers have been inserted into the bowl, again. Rationalize to yourself that the heat in the oven should kill most germs anyway.

Step 10

Hear your phone ring from the other room. Race to answer it before it goes to voicemail. Return to an overwhelming smell of vanilla that wasn't there when you left. Realize that the tot has emptied an entire bottle of vanilla essence into the dry mixture. Consider throwing yourself on the floor in hysterics. Refrain.

Step 11

Put away what's left of the ingredients. Discard the dry mixture. Put the creamed butter and sugar and yolk mixture into the fridge, along with the egg whites. Put the used bowls into the dishwasher. Put the unused equipment into the cupboards. Scrub down the tabletop.

Step 12

Put on a movie for the three-year-old and serve a snack. Lie down and resolve to start again tomorrow.

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