Baking is wonderful hobby—it can help you and your girls relax, help them make new friends by sharing a delicious treat, or bring in some funds to support a service project. It can even be a fun way to do some tasty science experiments, or bring out your artistic side: decorate cookies with colored sprinkles or arrange the apple slices in your pie to create fun patterns. There’s no doubt about it—baking is an all-purpose Girl Scout activity, from baking up a storm for a Girl Scout Sabbath celebration to sending troop sisters something delicious in the mail!
Save it for later!
Baking is for everyone, but being a beginning baker can be challenging. Don’t know where to start? Here are some easy baking recipes for kids, along with delicious tips and tricks to get started. They go from easiest to hardest so bakers of any level can try something new!
Before we start, it’s important to go over a few safety tips:
- Make sure an adult supervises all baking adventures, and is available to help if needed.
- Girls don’t have to do anything that makes them nervous or uncomfortable. If they don’t want to be in charge of chopping chocolate with the big knife or pulling things out of the oven, they don’t have to be.
- Treat hot and sharp things with extra caution, especially working with younger Girl Scouts!
Here are a few baking tips that apply to every recipe:
- All ingredients should be at room temperature before you start. Pull out items like milk, eggs and butter 30 minutes before beginning to mix.
- Read the recipe all the way through before starting.
- You don’t need a fancy mixer! A bowl and spatula work just as well.
- Every oven is a little different, so trust your eyes and nose as much as you do your timer!
3-Ingredient Sugar Cookies
These are super simple, but will satisfy any sweet tooth. They are a great way to get used to mixing ingredients. For added fun, top with sprinkles or colorful sanding sugar before baking.
- 10 Tbs salted butter (room temp)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- Optional sprinkles of your choice
- Pre-heat oven to 375° F.
- Place butter and sugar in a bowl. Mix until it is light and fluffy.
- Add flour and mix until just incorporated.
- Form cookies into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
Better Boxed Cake
Boxed cake is perfect for beginning bakers. It’s so easy and requires very few ingredients. Follow these few tips to take the taste from okay, to gourmet! Your cake will be richer and fluffier!
- Add one more egg than the box calls for.
- Substitute butter for the oil and double the amount. Ex. Instead of 1/3 cup oil, use 2/3 cup butter.
- Use milk instead of water.
- Add an extra splash of vanilla extract (or almond extract if you want to get fancy!) and pinch of salt.
- Bake according to the box’s instructions.
Watch me whip up some amazing cupcakes using these tricks:
Banana Bread Muffins
This is one of my favorite recipes! I tried lots of different combinations to get it just right. It is more than okay to use browned bananas—in fact, they make the banana bread tastier! As long as you don’t see any mold, they are fine for baking. I like to save bananas in the freezer and thaw them to make this banana bread. There are also a few optional add-ins so you can personalize the muffins to your preferences.
- 4 ripe bananas (about 1 cup mashed)
- 6 Tbs Butter, melted
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- Optional: ½ cup chocolate chips, ½ cup chopped walnuts, and/or 1 fresh ripe banana chopped into small pieces
- Mash the bananas. This can be done with a fork or a blender. You want them to be as smooth as possible, but little chunks won’t be a problem. Place them in a large bowl.
- Add in butter, brown and granulated sugars, egg, and vanilla. Mix well.
- Add in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
- Stir until just combined.
- Fold in any of the optional ingredients you would like.
- Let the batter sit for 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to 425° F.
- Scoop batter into a lined muffin tin. Each muffin cup should be ¾ full, because they’ll rise in the oven.
- Carefully place them in the oven and set a timer for 7 minutes.
- After 7 minutes turn oven temperature down to 375° F and cook for 10-14 additional minutes. You know they are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with just a few crumbs instead of wet batter.
- Let them cool a few minutes before enjoying.
Watch how it’s done:
Another tried and true recipe I made in highschool, this apple cobbler is best served warm with ice cream! This is the one time that you want your butter to stay cold. Don’t take it out of the fridge until you are ready to use it.
- 1 lb Granny Smith apples
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- Pinch salt
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 8 Tbs butter, cold
- Core apples and cut into ¼ in thin slices. Place in a large bowl.
- Add in the rest of the filling ingredients and toss to mix. Make sure the apple slices are evenly covered.
- Let the mixture sit while you make the crumble for the top.
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- Mix flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
- Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and add the flour mixture.
- Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to break apart the butter by pinching it. Incorporate it into the flour.
- Dump the apple mixture into a cake pan.
- Spread the crumble evenly over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crumble is golden.
- Let cool a few minutes before serving with a big scoop of ice cream!
Baking bread might seem like an intimidating task, but experimenting with yeast is like an edible science project. If you have some yeast to spare, put it in a glass with warm water to see it make bubbles. It will do the same thing in your dough to make it rise! Pizza dough is the perfect starting bread recipe. While other bread recipes require you to be very precise with measurements and temperatures, this one is a little more resilient. To make it even more delicious, add in any or all of the suggested herbs and spices.
- 2–2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 ¼ tsp instant yeast (1 packet)
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- Optional: ¼ tsp each of Garlic powder, dried basil, and oregano
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- ¾ cup warm water
- Pizza toppings of your choice!
- Pepperoni, cheese, pineapple, veggies, Pesto, BBQ chicken…whatever your heart desires!
- Combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. If desired add garlic, basil, and oregano.
- Add olive oil and warm water and stir very well!
- Gradually add another cup of flour, mixing as you go. Add any additional flour you need to create a slightly sticky ball that is beginning to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Drizzle oil into a separate, large, clean bowl. Make sure the oil is coating the entire bowl. All the way up the sides!
- Lightly dust your hands with flour and form your dough into a round ball. Transfer to the oily bowl. Roll the dough along the sides of the bowl so that the dough ball is coated with oil.
- Cover the bowl and with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size. (If your house or kitchen is cold, try leaving the bowl on top of a cabinet (heat rises) or even cuddle with it while watching some TV!)
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it just a few times (3 to 5 times).
- Use your hands or a rolling pin to shape the dough into an roughly a 12-inch circle.
- Transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet.
- Drizzle oil over the top. Use a fork to gently poke holes all over the center of the pizza.
- Top any way you want!
- Bake at 425°f for 13-15 minutes. It’ll be done when it looks toasty and brown and smells amazing.
Now you have a few recipes get started on your Girl Scout baking adventure! Encourage your girls that it’s okay if something doesn’t turn out quite how they expected, and to remember that baking is an experiment that requires some trial and error. If you stick with it, not only will they have some delicious treats, but they’ll have a valuable life skill and a real sense of accomplishment. Who knows, some of your girls might want to become bakers or food scientists one day. But the most important thing is for everyone to stay safe and have fun on their new baking adventure. Happy baking!
What to do next:
- If you have left-over Girl Scout cookies, try out these out-of-the-box recipes that will take your Girl Scout cookie to a whole new level.
- Your Girl Scout troop can make classic camp recipes during your troop meeting or on your next outdoor adventure.
- Want to bring even more science into your baking? Your girls can create a solar-powered cooking set-up and experience the “brighter side” of the culinary arts.
Kali Gabler—Kali “Qwerty” Gabler is an adventure program specialist for Girl Scouts of Northern California where she runs various outdoor programs. She earned a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts from Johnson & Wales University, but only bakes as a hobby now. When she’s not Girl Scouting or baking she can be found cuddling her two kittens or out on a run.