03.What to look for
Safety should always be the priority when children are cooking and they should learn safe practices right from the start. Even though these gadgets are marketed to children, they all require adult supervision. Your child can learn to follow the recipe and create the mixture by themselves, however the appliances’ hot cooking surfaces mean an adult should oversee the process from there. Even the Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker needs some adult supervision as it uses the microwave.
External surfaces of any appliances should not exceed a safe temperature to touch, but the Kambrook’s hot plate is exposed around the edge and reaches a dangerously hot temperature of about 130°C.
Yummy or yucky?
These gadgets make slightly healthier alternatives to similar store-bought treats as they require very little oil for cooking, but their products don’t taste like the real deal. The Kambrook and Sunbeam doughnut makers make baked doughnuts, whereas true doughnuts incorporate yeast to create the fluffy texture and are deep-fried to crisp the outside.
The Girl Gourmet makes only one cupcake at a time and the manufacturer recommends using only its cake and icing mixes, making it a very expensive toy. The cupcakes have an artificially sweet taste and need to be eaten immediately before they become dry and hard. Our eight-year-old tester found it easy to use without help from mum, but said she wouldn’t use the cake mixes provided, preferring instead to make cupcakes in the oven and only use the toy for decorating.
The Breville makes party pies perfectly in only six to eight minutes, allowing you to experiment with sweet and savoury flavours, however, it doesn’t perform as well for cupcakes as getting the right amount of batter into the wells is fiddly.
Keeping kids interested
These novelty gadgets may seem like a lot of fun, but you can teach your children to create the same or similar foods without them and still make cooking enjoyable. For cupcakes, all you need is a cupcake tin, cases, icing and decorations. You can create party pies by lining the base of a muffin tin with fresh or frozen shortcrust pastry, add your favourite filling and top each with a layer of puff pastry. Because authentic doughnuts are deep-fried, they’re not as easy to make at home but you can make circular shapes with a doughnut cutter or by joining the ends of a skinny piece of dough.
The key to getting kids into the kitchen is to keep things simple and make it a positive experience. Some children can be enticed by colour or a theme, whereas others thrive knowing they’ve helped to create a meal the whole family will enjoy.