When I opened Sunshine in 2002, I ran art and music classes for under three year olds. I quickly became friends with one of my first clients Rebecca, a mum of two adorable children who would come to my classes every day and who I babysat sometimes on weekends. I often mentioned to her the twin boys I used to be a nanny to before starting my own business and how I enjoyed baking with them. After hearing it quite a few times, Rebecca asked: “You seem to know a lot about baking, why don’t you start baking classes at Sunshine?” I clearly remember thinking “Baking? Really? Who in London would want to learn how to bake?”
Back then I didn’t know a single British family who would be remotely interested in making cakes and biscuits and most of my friends would buy them from supermarkets or bakeries. Cooking yes, baking NO (with capital letters)! Little did I know and I sincerely apologise for my completely unjustified lack of faith in the great British nation! Mind you, in 2002 there was literally just a handful of cooking shows on TV, YouTube recipe videos and tutorials practically didn’t exist. It was quite a mission to find a decent quality set of children-friendly size rolling pins and biscuit cutters in shops… Rebecca saw how unsure I was and asked if I would consider running a class if she found another three mums happy to give it a go. Despite my doubts, something inside me told me “go for it, you’ve nothing to lose”.
A couple of weeks later I taught my first baking class. We made shortbread and all mums couldn’t believe how easy and quick it was and that it’s made with just four ingredients. They signed up for the whole term which forced me to come up with a baking programme and adapt recipes I liked to a toddlers’ very short attention span. I spent most weekends in my kitchen testing new recipes, reinventing the old ones. Some were fantastic, some needed tweaking and the end result still wouldn’t satisfy my rather spoilt Polish palate. I had fun though and always looked forward to introducing a new recipe to my little bakers. Some recipes like chocolate chip cookies or pizza are still the “top of the pops” at Sunshine. They have naturally evolved and improved over the years.
Without me knowing, the children and parents who came every Friday morning to bake with me were my guinea pigs and what I learned from their enthusiasm and honest feedback is priceless. I am so grateful to Rebecca and her children Tyler and Garrett for encouraging me to do what I enjoyed and still enjoy so much.
Had someone told me back then, over 14 years ago that in 2016 I’d be running five baking classes a week (sometimes more) and school holiday baking camps and that I’d set to write a recipe book, I wouldn’t have believed it for a second! Hundreds of thousands of scrummy treats later, I love baking with kids more than ever and really hope that my blog and book will encourage many families to try some of my recipes.
Speaking of which, since this week my 4 year olds chefs made a delicious apple crumble, check out my next blog entry with a recipe which will be featured in Sunshine Baking Book. Perfect comfort food for a cold November day. If a 4 year old can do it, so can you!