Children Helping With Cakes

Decorating By DeeDelightful Updated 28 Jun 2009 , 5:40pm by indydebi

DeeDelightful Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 4:50pm
post #1 of 16

I KNOW there was a post that included something about a relative/friend asking for their child to assist a CC'er with a cake. If anyone knows the link to this post, please send it. I have just been approached (via email) with the same request. A 12 year old cousin is planning a party for her 3 year old sister, and mom (my husband's cousin and a dear friend of mine) has informed me that the 12 year old wants to help me make the Dora cake. I really want to let her down easy, because that is not something i'm really comfortable with, but also do not want to cause harm by saying it the wrong way. This is a mom who is very sensitive about how people treat her children and this could go in a bad direction if not handled properly. Please help!

15 replies
mbelgard Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 5:16pm
post #2 of 16

Are you getting paid for this cake?


If it's a freebie could you maybe tell her that you are pressed for time and having a kid help will take more time than you have?


If it's a paid cake maybe you could come up with a large extra fee for children helping. Make it big enough that it will make up for your time if it doesn't turn her off the idea.

Another option for a paid cake would be to tell her that you have too many other cakes booked to give the extra time it will take to show someone how to do this stuff.

chassidyg Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 5:22pm
post #3 of 16

Are you a licensed home baker? If you are, it may not even be allowed, due to your insurance, ect. Tell her that it's against your insurance to allow someone else into the kitchen while you are baking/decorating.

lane52403 Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 5:29pm
post #4 of 16

Maybe, if you have time for her, let her come over while you're making the cake and have her do a small one all by herself. That could be the cake her sister gets all to herself. She would feel special b/c she made it all alone, with you to help her with some things.

loriana Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 5:35pm
post #5 of 16

Hi Dee,

If this cake is just a present and not a paid cake, you *could* have the child help you. I guess I'm not trying to change your mind... ok... maybe a little LOL but it might be nice if you decide to let the 12 year old help you.

I teach the Wilton classes at Michaels and have lots of 9-12 year olds in my Class 1 or in my Kids Klass. They absolutely love to do hands-on at that age. Kids at 12 are just learning about arts,crafts and hobbies and you could use this as a chance to spend a little time teaching a young cousin about your art. If you did invite him/her to help, you could just give them simple tasks like filling bags, finding the right number tips for you, setting the oven timer and carefully taking the cake out of the oven while you help( they will feel extra-special if you let them do this!) and helping you mix in the colors into each bowl.

A nice 12 year old will know you are in charge and do what you tell them to. I have my 9 year old niece in the kitchen often when I do cakes or cupcakes for friend/family. She loves to move the speed of the mixer, help mix the colors, fill bags, and supervise while I decorate.

Just a thought... since this child is planning this party, this might mean a lot to them. Hope I haven't overstepped by mentioning all of my opinion! tapedshut.gif

Happy baking either way!

Doug Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 8:53pm
post #6 of 16

no... the 12-year-old wants you to help her make the Dora cake! (get the subtle but important difference?)

this means:
1) stuff your hands in your pockets except for the truly dangerous stuff (hot oven!)...after that she does it ALL. (and even then, she has to learn to put stuff into and take out of a hot oven sometime.)

2) you INSTRUCT -- ie teach/coach but NOT do -- all the steps techniques (if you've done the wilton classes or similar you know what I mean -- the instruction demos, explains, but they we the students did)

3) this is all done at HER house, not yours. Her mom takes off with the 3-year-old so it will be a surprise and you and the 12-year-old stay and bake and deco.

Since she wants a Dora cake -- could take the easy route and get the Dora pan that Wilton sells, bake it, quick chill in the fridge and then ice it up (tho' her hand might drop off if you do the Wilton star technique!)

could just as easily also teach you to use a cutout pattern to do a design on a sheet cake.

this is not the time to be doing some multi-tier wonder.

Hey, if I can get a 4-year-old to make two cookie trees (and yes, she rolled the dough, cut the dough and even "helped" w/ the oven and then stacked and iced them in her own unique design! -- see pic in photos) then certainly a 12-year-old can do almost all, if not all the work, while you coach from the side lines.

and if she's in girl scouts, isn't there some kind of badge she can earn for doing this???

Rylan Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 9:26pm
post #7 of 16

Tell her you will be baking/making your cake at 2AM because that is the only time you are available.

CoutureCake Posted 22 Jun 2009 , 11:11pm
post #8 of 16

My DD who is 4 can do dots, I'm sure a 12yo can do one thing better - help do the dishes when they're done icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

O.k. since it's family, no biggie on having the kiddo in the kitchen. You teach her just like you'd teach an employee first starting out in cake decorating, teach the fundamentals of "WASH YOUR HANDS!!! icon_surprised.gif ", tie your hair back, cover it with a net/hat, and nail them on it every flipp'n time they touch their hands to their face or pockets...

It's the old story of "teach a person to fish vs. catching the fish for them..." A 12yo isn't going to produce something that's fancy schmancy perfect, but you know what, it's the perfect age for them to pick up a piping bag and do carpal tunnel stars for a Wilton pan design. I've still got the picture of me holding my own Holly Hobby b-day cake around that age (fro - aka WAY too tight of a perm - and all too I might add!). At the time I thought the cake was perfect, now I look at it and go "and I thought THAT was presentable????" LOL

This is an opportunity for her to learn, she's old enough to do the full cake by herself (remember baking cakes for the fair at age 8!), the idea being that the Mom hasn't a clue or the materials to do it herself, the 12yo wants to do it, and you've got the supplies/equipment but most of all the skill... You're just there to supervise, possibly mix the icing colors to proper levels, and teach her how to do carpal tunnel stars, nothing more, nothing less. She's not a baby, she's a young woman, heck, I had my first job at 11 washing dishes for a restaurant and that was two years after I became the cook at home during the summer... Now, put a piping bag in her hand and tell her "go to town". It's a chance to teach her a life skill, not everything comes out perfect, and sometimes it just doesn't matter, the only details that matter is that she did it, and it tastes good.

CeeTee Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 8:08pm
post #9 of 16

*drops out of lurk mode*

I am in agreement with everything Doug and CoutureCake said. I think it's sweet that the 12-year-old is planning the party and taking such and active role in her little sister's birthday. This is a chance for her to do something special and create happy family memories. icon_smile.gif

Though, is the reason you don't want her to help out is because you have an elaborate idea for the cake that you want to work on, or is it that you aren't comfortable working around or with children? ( Which, BTW, there is absolutley nothing wrong with! )

If it's the former, then swallow your pride and let the cousin run the show. If it's the latter, then you might want to talk to your friend privately and explain how you aren't comfortable with being around kids in a kitchen, and maybe she can offer some ideas on how to work around that, like maybe you could offer to lend them the tools and mom and big sis could work on the cake while you babysit the little one?

Bellatheball Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 11:25pm
post #10 of 16

I agree with Doug. I let my 4 year old help with family cakes whenever possible and she loves every minute of it. She loves cracking eggs, measuring flour and sugar and making her own little fondant flowers. IT's a fantastic learning experience for the child and the decorator. If you are worried about the final cake being a reflection on your decorating skills, let teh 12 year old do a lot of it. Maybe make a candy plaque or something that you can attach to the cake stating that the 12 year old made it "herself" for her little sister.

Texas_Rose Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 11:37pm
post #11 of 16

A 12 year old is definitely old enough to be a good helper. By the time I was that age, I was doing all of the cooking for the family and not simple stuff either. My kids are 7 and 3 and I let them help me when it's a cake for family. My 7 year old can make fondant pearls and flowers...when she turned 6 she made several hundred flowers for her cupcakes for the class, not just flat cutouts but thinned and cupped and dried in formers.

jennicita Posted 24 Jun 2009 , 6:40am
post #12 of 16

Last year I had a friend's soon-to-be 14-year-old daughter help out on her own birthday cake. I had offered and thought it would be fun. By the time she got to my place I had it baked and frosted and ready to decorate. She helped knead fondant to get the color worked in but I took over covering the cake. We colored fondant in nice pastels (the cake is in my pics) and I taught her to do ribbon roses, then we did the roses and leaves together. She cut out the letters and numbers and positioned them on the cake. It was mostly done by me (otherwise it would have taken a lot longer) but she was there for the artistic process and helped with the simpler things. We had a lot of fun and she was sooooo proud of "her" creation! Of course I'm just a hobbyist (for now) so things would be different if I were running a business. But it was a lot of fun for both of us!

Point is: don't completely rule it out unless there are health regulations to consider. You might actually enjoy it!

pattiverde Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 4:53pm
post #13 of 16

My vote is that you simply tell the truth: you're not comfortable having the child help. But I do think it's worth asking yourself what your real reason is. When I don't want a child to help, it's only because I want the cake to turn out really nice and exactly as I'm imagining it. It's a bit of a pride issue, because I don't want people thinking that funky child-done part was me doing bad decorating, you know? So sometimes I just say no, thank you and give my honest reason. But other times, depending on the purpose of the cake (a family event, for example), I am happy to take the help and in these cases I let the kids do anything and everything they want to do with the cake. It is really, in this case, their cake, with my instructional assistance. And when the cake is presented to family, I say, "Look at the cake the kids made!"

My nieces have often asked to help me with cakes, and I have on many occasions said the truth - that this is my art project and I really want it to turn out a certain way, so I'd like to do it myself. On other occasions, I've given the project to them, with my help, and it has been such a fun experience for us.

I say just be honest with yourself, and with your cousin, and if the girl does make the cake, you can allow her to take the credit for it (thereby absolving you of any imperfections on the cake).

icon_smile.gif patti

andiesweet Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 5:09pm
post #14 of 16

My 11 y/o Daughter wants to help me with every cake i do. I made a rule that if the cake is cor a customer, i do it alone, iF it is for family she can help. But i get the cake to a certain point, baked , filled, iced, then she helps with the decoration. That is all she wants to help with anyway. So I let her cut out things from fondant, she can airbrush fill bags etc. keep it simple and it will be fun. And they are sooo proud of what they accomplish.

Lady_Phoenix Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 5:20pm
post #15 of 16

My 2 oldest grandsons are 7 and 9. Both help me when I make cakes for family or friends. They both know how to measure, stir and they have even helped me make MFF a couple of times. Its a good thing for kids to learn their way around the kitchen, and the younger they can begin to learn the better, imho!

indydebi Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 5:40pm
post #16 of 16

I honestly believe the 12 year old thinks it will be "fun" to make a cake and has no idea how much "work" it is to make a cake.

I've taught an 11 year old how to decorate ... she wanted to do it for a 4H project and I worked with her mom so I agreed. She walked in the kitchen all excited and when she left 5 hours later, she was dog meat tired and not looking forward to coming back the next weekend!

So how much effort do YOU want to put into this. It takes a LONG time to teach someone how to do an entire cake. The cake I can whip out in minutes will take 2-3 hours with "a helper".

And I never worry about how sensitive a mom is about her darlin' little child. My kitchen .... my rules. You want my help? We do it my way.

Or MIchael's is down the road and they sell how-to books. Have at it.

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