Big buzz at Barton: A fun day of community baking for parents, kids and volunteers

February 16, 2012

Last Saturday, we held another one of our Community Baking Sessions. This time, we had been invited by the Barton Community Association, who kindly hosted the event. More than 40 enthusiastic bakers made it to the session, ranging from 1-year-olds to 67-year-olds. And to judge from the buzz that filled the large hall at Underhill Circus, it was a big success.

Hands-on community baking at BartonThe idea behind our Community Baking series is simple: about a dozen parents and their kids get together with our volunteer bakers in a community kitchen for a day and try some simple recipes together. After a short food safety briefing, we split up into smaller groups and start preparing tasty cupcakes and cookies. Together with our experienced volunteers, the families prepare the dough, bake the cakes and — most importantly — decorate the final product. Three hours and many more cups of tea later, we tidy up together and everyone goes home with a load of yummy cakes and some new baking and decorating skills. Overall, a great way to make baking social, accessible and fun.

As usual, it had taken a while to prepare the day. For the last couple of weeks, Hannah Rolls and Michele Peters had browsed and chosen recipes, calculated the amount of flour, sugar, eggs and margarine needed, invited half a dozen volunteers to attend and carried big boxes of baking equipment to the venue. But when everything was in place and the first families arrived at the Barton Community Centre, the work was quickly forgotten. Since Valentine’s Day was only a few days away, the team had decided to decorate the vanilla cupcakes and roll-out biscuits with lovey-dovey icing and red hearts.

Some children baked for the first time, and we received great feedback from parents and kids. This was a particularly moving message:

Thank you so much. It was my son’s ever first cupcake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and he just ate it right now. And he shared it with us, so yummy! Thanks again for that wonderful opportunity – it was a big day for him!

Co-organisers Michele Peters and Hannah Rolls were proud of what they had achieved. “Community baking is all about bringing different people together in a fun way. It encourages parents, children and volunteers to work as a team to create something simple but delicious,” says Michele. “Judging by the feedback we have had, it has gone very well. It was very touching when a little girl handed me one of the biscuits she and her family had made as a thank you.” And Hannah calls on community centres to join the scheme: “There is of course a limit on how many the two of us are able to organise, and we are mainly aiming to cover the Headington and Barton areas. However, we are interested to know if other parts of Oxford would like to host one.”

The Community Baking Sessions are made possible with the generous support of an Oxfordshire Community Foundation grant. If you are interested in hosting one yourself, please have a look at our leaflet and get in touch. It doesn’t take much and makes a huge difference.

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