How I Turned a Love for Baking Shows Into a Simple Dinner Idea


Perhaps one of the greatest ironies of my life is how much I love watching baking shows considering how little I like to bake.

I don’t particularly enjoy baking or cooking, and if it were up to me, I’d happily eat out for every meal.

While I don’t look forward to baking in the cold winter months, I do look forward to binge watching all the baking shows that Netflix has to offer.

My favorites are The Great British Baking Show and Nailed It. Drastically different in terms of the skill levels of their participants, the former introduces me to all sorts of new ingredients and baking techniques that I never intend to use in real life, while the latter makes me feel so much better about my limited skills in the kitchen.

A few years ago while we were in the middle of binge-watching my daughter suggested we have our own family baking show and then eat what we made for dinner. This is how the idea for The Great Todd Baking Show began.

At first we had some ambitious ideas about the things we could bake. Then we remembered that none of us really know how to bake and that we are all pretty picky.

We lowered our expectations significantly.

After some trial and error, we decided to do breakfast for dinner as the main dish in our baking shows. We start with a theme, typically seasonal or holiday related. Then the kids compete in three baking challenges – which could be more accurately called food assembly challenges.

family baking

Here are our three challenges, loosely based on the things we’ve watched on Netflix. I’ve linked some Valentine’s Day kid-friendly baking ideas with each challenge as we will certainly have a baking show on February 14.  

Our Family Baking Show

The Signature Challenge

Each kid gets a chance to use the internet to search for an appropriately themed pancake creation. My husband fries bacon while I make eggs to order and mix up some pancake batter. The kids tell me how they want me to shape their pancakes on the griddle and then they work to make a fun scene out of their breakfast foods.

The Technical Challenge

I find a picture of an easy food creation – typically something made of fruit – and I print out simple directions for the kids. They have to follow the directions step by step to recreate the food and then we judge them based on whose is closest to the original.

The Showstopper

Again, the kids get to pick a simple dessert to create after an internet search. Sometimes I buy a few fun baking items at the store, like custom shaped sprinkles or colorful frosting tubes to enhance the experience.

Family Baking Rules

There are only a few rules.

  • First, each round is timed so the baking show doesn’t take the entire evening.
  • Second, the kids cannot make something that they won’t eat; this helps us eliminate wasted food.
  • Finally, they have to plate their creations and present them after each round.

Typically the kids eat the whole time they are assembling their food and, as the judges, my husband and I get to taste some of everything that is made. The baby is thoroughly entertained by his big siblings while nibbling on a pancake in his highchair.

My kids all get a kick out of presenting their food to us and they like when we determine the winners – even though they know nobody will be snubbed in the end.

I have a lot of kids whose ages span several years. Finding something that we like to do together is a challenge. And we all know coming up with an idea for dinner every single night is oppressive.  

Our family baking shows are a simple way for our big brood to enjoy a meal together without any complaints about menu items, without sibling strife, and, ironically, with very little baking.

What are some of your favorite creative meal ideas?

family baking show


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