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In the thick of win­ter, noth­ing beats a kitchen project with your lit­tle helpers. But, es­pe­cially when there’s more than one kid, things can snow­ball out of con­trol fast—as in a bliz­zard of flour all over your coun­ters! Here’s how to keep things fun and still bake up something you can ac­tu­ally eat. —Les­ley Por­celli

go with a dough

Be­tween the rolling and the fun of work­ing with cookie cut­ters, any roll-out cookie dough is a hands-down win­ner for a group project. Have a sec­ond, smaller rolling pin on hand for really lit­tle kids. Give them their own lump of dough to work on while you roll out the ma­jor­ity of the batch. (They won’t no­tice that most of the cook­ies are your hand­i­work, since play­ing with dough is so en­gag­ing.) Older kids can roll the real dough with some tute­lage and plenty of flour on the pin, coun­ter­tops, and cut­ter to pre­vent stick­ing.

try muffins and quick breads

Dump-and-stir muf­fin and quick bread recipes are so sim­ple, they’re likely to go right even if things are a lit­tle off. Using mini pans—like mini loaf pans or muf­fin tins—means that ev­ery­thing will bake quickly for nearly in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion. If you have small kids (or a group of them), divvy up tasks based on age ap­pro­pri­ate­ness, or have them take turns. One child can read the recipe (dou­ble-check over his or her shoul­der), one (age

8 or older) can mea­sure out in­gre­di­ents, and lit­tle ones can dump the in­gre­di­ents into the bowl and stir (re­mind them to keep the whisk in con­tact with the bot­tom of the bowl to pre­vent a full-body coat­ing of flour). Younger kids can line muf­fin tins with pa­per lin­ers, and older ones can drop in dol­lops of bat­ter (no over­fill­ing!). Let chil­dren cus­tom­ize their own muffins or mini loaves by adding fruit, nuts, or choco­late chips. Use shak­ers of cin­na­mon-sugar to add ex­tra sparkle.

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