Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cake a Toddler could make, literally! More French parenting tips!

The book, Bringing Up Bebe, has been very interesting.  Now granted not ALL French parents parent the same way just as not all American parents do, but for the American journalist, Pamela Druckerman, it seems as though her circle of middle class Parisian friends parent very much in a similar manner.  In my opinion, toddlers are more exhausting than newborns.  They are often wild, fearless, loud and sticky human beings.  However, French toddlers seem to be less of those things.  Their parents educate them on learning patience from the time they are born, so most French toddlers have the ability to entertain themselves.  You won't see a French mother carrying a diaper bag full of toys and snacks in Paris, they just don't do it.  Women in Paris can actually carry on conversations while their kids play...can you imagine how wonderful that would be! 

Pamela learned a few simple rules when parenting toddlers.  Now these tips may sound like common sense as they did to Pamela, and she hasn't quite perfected the knack of French parenting, but she sure is trying.  French parents believe that when they say 'NO' their child will obey, they also believe if they tell their child to 'wait a minute' they'll wait.  In a nut shell it appears that French parents are very confident with their parenting practices and the children can sense it.

Toddlers are often found at restaurants in Paris and they aren't having melt downs or tantrums or even throwing food on the floor.  They sit and wait to eat just like everyone else.  Again, in Paris, French parents seem to mold a child to fit their lifestyle, not change their lifestyles to fit the child.  The parents control the child, not the other way around.  French parents are very good about taking time for themselves and school children as young as five will go on week long field trips with their class.  This gives parents a break from parenting.  Pamela does believe that French parents just seem a lot less stressed all together, which may be in part to the fact that in France you don't pay for preschool, health insurance or college.

Now French children aren't angels by any means but according to Pamela they seem to mind more than American children do.  French parents do set up strict guidelines but allow a lot of freedom within these guidelines.  For instance if a child is to go to bed at 8:00 p.m., then he goes to his or her room every night at 8:00 p.m. no questions asked, however he does not have to go to sleep.  The child can do whatever he likes in his room as long as he stays in his room. They also put their kids on an eating schedule.  Most French toddlers eat breakfast, lunch, gouter (gooh-tay), which is what they call afternoon snack, and dinner. That's it, period! They also allow their kids to have sugar daily during the afternoon snack and allow it at holidays as well, other than that a child does not get cookies, cake or chocolate.  They feel sweets in moderation are good for the child, that way when the child does have the chance to eat sweets they do go crazy with them.

Speaking of sweets they often serve gateau au yaourt for gouter or as we would call it, yogurt cake.  They do a lot of baking with their toddlers, it's a tradition in many families to bake together on the weekends.  So I decided to have my four-year-old make yogurt cake and it was delicious.  He was so excited when I told him he could make a cake all by himself!

For Yogurt Cake you will need:
  • 2 6oz containers of plain whole-milk yogurt or for a lighter cake use low-fat plain yogurt (use the empty containers to measure other ingredients)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 containers sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Just under 1 container vegetable oil
  • 4 containers flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • A mix-in (could be 2 containers frozen berries, a container of chocolate chips or any flavoring you like)
Preheat oven to 375 and grease a 9in cake pan or a loaf pan.

Gently combine yogurt, eggs, sugar vanilla and oil.  Yes, I let my four-year-old crack eggs.

He stirred all the ingredients himself and was very proud.

Then mix in dry ingredients.

This part can be a bit messy but fun!

Mix gently and don't over mix.  Now you can add either the berries, chocolate or flavorings if you like.  We doubled the recipe and made two cakes, one with frozen blueberries and one with chocolate chips.

Bake for 35 minutes or until it passes the knife test.  It should look crispy on the outside and springy on the inside.

Let it cool, slice and top with whipping cream or in France they use creme fraiche, however, I still have yet to find creme fraiche in my local grocery stores.  Enjoy!

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