All over the world – including here on Lantau Island – families are planning for a holiday season unlike any other.
Due to COVID-19, people are unable to travel or to gather in large groups to celebrate with loved ones as they usually do, and so many families are finding their way to the kitchen – and to the oven – to either renew or create new holiday baking traditions.
Insert Lan Hee Hong, who teaches baking classes for kids in Hong Kong, through her baking business, Flour. (Trivia: Her name Lan means flower in Vietnamese and Hee means girl in Korean, being born to a Vietnamese mother and a Korean father.)
Lan Hee started baking professionally eight years ago when she decided to take some time off from teaching at the Kowloon Junior School to spend more time with her family. “Teaching kids basic baking and cooking skills is very rewarding, but more importantly, it’s about being able to give the children a sense of confidence and a way to express themselves,” says Lan Hee. “Watching my mom in the kitchen inspired me to learn how to bake. She was amazing in the kitchen. And as I grew up, I learned a lot from her about how to cook.”
If you’re looking for ways to get your children more involved in the kitchen, Lan Hee recommends starting with the basics and being prepared for a little mess along the way. “Baking doesn’t have to be very complicated. It can be simple and you can use ingredients and tools you might already have at your home. It’s okay for parents to let the kids have a go and let them try doing more things in the kitchen,” says Lan Hee.
“Baking and cooking in the kitchen will always involve some kind of mess, so cleaning and washing up is especially important for the children to be involved with. Cleaning up along the way always helps to make it easier to tidy up in the end.”
One of Lan Hee’s favourite family-friendly holiday baking recipes is slice-and-bake shortbread cookies with sprinkles.
“You make the shortbread cookie dough and instead of rolling the dough flat and cutting out the shapes with cookie cutters, the shortbread is divided into thirds and rolled into logs. Each log is then rolled in coloured sprinkles and then wrapped in parchment paper and frozen. When they’re ready to bake, the trick is to slightly defrost the logs before slicing; they are easier to cut and will keep a smooth, round shape. If you’ve never made cookie dough logs before, it’s really convenient – just slice and bake!”
If you’ve got kids who are ready for more advanced endeavours in the kitchen, Lan Hee’s holiday baking workshops at the Auberge Discovery Bay Hong Kong hotel in DB this December will keep them occupied and entertained.
Most of Lan Hee’s baking workshops have been conducted in Kowloon, but there have been a few enquiries about doing a workshop in DB that made her want to give it a try. The Auberge, with its large enough space for the kids to work, especially with the required social distancing needed, was the perfect venue, captivating Lan Hee with its “amazing view of the water”.
“It’s rewarding to see the kids’ happy faces and how proud they are of what they’ve made in the workshop. They are so excited to share their baked goodies with their families and then they have the confidence to try these recipes again at home,” says Lan Hee.
“Even though I’ve been baking for a while, I’m always amazed at how the children are unafraid to try something new, even if it doesn’t turn out the way they expected. They have no inhibitions so it allows them to be more creative, even more so than me sometimes. My motto is learn, create and be inspired, and I’m definitely inspired by the children.” Reporting by Elizabeth Jerabeck
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