Edible Bakes: Back to School Baking

PHOTOS BY KATIE NOBLE / STYLED BY CATRINE KELTY

As a native New Englander, I relish the turn of seasons. My favorite transition is when the hot, muggy days of summer shift ever so slowly towards the crisp air of fall. Change is evident everywhere. From school buses on the roads; to the red, yellow and burnt-orange leaves on the trees; to people returning to their kitchens to bake treats, autumn is a time of harvest and the return of routine.

While all of this sounds poetic, there is no denying the sudden busyness that befalls families when children return to school. Back-to-school time for parents typically means racing around, trying to keep up with the daily demands, like making healthy breakfasts, packing lunches and being prepared to feed an army of kids who just might happen to come over after school. It’s tempting to fill your pantry with huge boxes of purchased snacks. However, there are other options available to you.

This autumn, start a new tradition in your family by making treats that are easy to prepare and remove some of the stress of the hectic back-to-school scramble. Invite your children into the process and show them how rewarding playing in the kitchen can be. Stock your freezer with Confetti Carrot Cake Muffins or tea bread, loaded with sweet potato, zucchini and carrots. Visit a local orchard to pick apples, then use them to make irresistible Apple Blondies. Skip buying packaged granola bars and see how little time it takes to make your own delicious chewy ones. Treat yourself—and your family—to a new breakfast option by making Breakfast Biscotti, a cornmeal biscotti loaded with currants, sunflower seeds and pepitas, flavored with a hint of orange. Finally, on those hot early autumn days, skip using the oven altogether and make a batch of healthy No-Bake Chocolate Bars.

The options are endless with each recipe, and part of the beauty of baking lies in experimenting. Encourage your children to lend a helping hand when it comes to ingredients and get ready to be amazed. Simple additions like rice cereal in the granola bars, coconut in the No-Bake Chocolate Bars or a simple frosting on the Confetti Carrot Cake Muffins will keep each recipe innovative and fresh each time you make it. Happy baking!

Karen Collins is a self-taught pastry chef and owner of Bisousweet Confections, a wholesale bakery located in Shirley, MA. She also co-founded Nashoba Brook Bakery. Karen has always loved to write and has a blog called As the Bread Burns where she discusses baking, business-ing, parenting and life. When she's not baking or writing, Karen spends her time parenting her three children and three dogs, cycling, running, skiing, volunteering and vacuuming.