Last week I made a delicious apple cake when a friend came over for tea. My boys each ate a hefty slice, then asked for more. I said no. There was one slice left in the pan, which I was saving for their dad. By the time my friend left, the last slice had disappeared and two guilty-looking boys admitted to disobedience.
While the act itself isn’t such a big deal – it’s just a piece of cake – it’s the principle that bothers me, especially because we’ve been having issues lately with blatant disobedience. The boys are in the “ignoring” stage, where they pretend not to hear their names being called or instructions being given, if they don’t like them.
I would call us authoritative parents, as unpopular and shocking as that may sound. We live in an era where mainstream parenting tends to be soft, easy-going, and liberal; where the children’s rights are considered on par with adults’ and their opinions taken into consideration whenever it comes time to make a family decision. While it works for many parents, it just doesn’t sit right with me.
I love and respect my kids, but I expect them to do what I say – without me having to repeat it over and over again, or beg, plead, cajole, and bargain in order to make it happen. Sometimes I ask what they want for dinner, but every single time I expect them to eat whatever is put in front of them – all of it, not just a few bites – before they get any dessert. And never are they allowed to say “No!” when I tell them to do something.
Needless to say, the cake-eating incident required more than a talk about not listening. It needed a punishment of sorts that could double as restitution for taking something that was not theirs.
The solution? They had to bake me another cake to replace the piece that was eaten.
This did not go over well. They complained and whined, especially when they had to go on a special errand to get ingredients. But it was interesting to witness their transformation over the course of baking. I could hear them getting more and more excited, helping to peel apples and measure flour, grease the pan and whisk the ingredients.
By the time that cake was placed on the table for dessert – and we all got a slice – they were beaming with pride. It was a good parenting moment – a punishment that turned into a wonderful learning opportunity and skill-building project.
Here is the recipe for “Easy-As-Pie Apple Cake,” another gem from my new Food52 baking book that I’m loving! (See last post) It really does taste like a pie, which may sound weird, but you’ve got to make it to see for yourself.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups diced apples
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg until pale in colour and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and mix again until smooth; the batter will be very thick. Stir in the apples and pecans. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread it evenly.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean and the top is a nice golden colour.
Let cool slightly before serving. Serve with whipped cream or good vanilla ice cream.