Here baking expert, Helen Nathan, explains how a desire to get children into the kitchen, and a love of fairies, inspired Flossie Crums
Most little girls love nothing more than fantasising about fairies and princesses. Helen Nathan’s three daughters were no different. So, when she wanted to get them into the kitchen, she decided to create Flossie Crums.
“Each of my girls have gone through fairy stages at some point. This made me think of a way I could introduce them to cooking would be to draw them in through a magical adventure story about a girl who was a baking heroine.”
Flossie Crums is an ordinary little girl, except for two things. She bakes incredible cakes and has fairies living in her garden! Her cakes are SO special that Queen Rosie of Romolonia appoints Flossie as the Royal baker to the fairies.
In her latest adventure Flossie’s six best fairy friends; shy ‘Crystal’, clever ‘Plum’, sweet ‘Honey’, clumsy ‘Minty’, kind ‘Cherry’ and bossy ‘Candy’, are bringing Flossie some exciting news about a new royal baby in Romolonia called Princess Cornflower. And, as the Royal Baker of Romolonia, Queen Rosie wants Flossie to bake something really special for the welcoming celebration.
“This is Flossie’s second adventure and my favourite recipe has to be the Geoffrey spider cookies. Geoffrey is the spider that looks after Flossie, as she is a royal baker she needs security at all times. And Flossie is not that keen on Geoffrey.
She likes the idea of having security but she thinks it would have been nicer to have a butterfly or a hamster look after her rather than a spider!”
But with the release of Flossie’s latest adventure, the success of the first Flossie Crum book, The Fairies Cupcake Ball, and three daughters to look after, Helen has faced the juggling act between family life and her career.
“It’s busy but its very fulfilling. I can still pick up the girls from school and I can help with homework. I then work in the evenings once they’ve gone to bed so I do manage to fit it in. Sometimes, it is a bit fraught in the summer holidays, as they might have to come with me to the publishers, which you have to explain, but that’s modern life.”
And while her days may be busy, Helen is quick to point out that without her children she wouldn’t have been able to create Flossie, using them as her harshest critics.
“They are very direct, if they think something looks rubbish they’ll really tell you and if they don’t like the taste they’ll really tell you. The stories I read with them also spark off repercussions. They love getting involved.”
Helen is particularly passionate about her children’s involvement with Flossie as she believes getting children into the kitchen can help them develop a range of skills.
“I believe cooking is so much more interactive than just plonking them in front of the telly or a video machine.”
Helen also believes cooking can benefit children with their education, improving their numeracy skills, by weighing out ingredients, and literacy, by reading through recipes.
These educational benefits have seen Helen take Flossie into schools, holding drama workshops explaining the importance of weighing and measuring, the science of baking and showing children where ingredients come from.
“The book was introduced to 2000 children and we went to visit schools throughout London. The response from the teachers was phenomenal and the kids loved it. We’re hoping next year to increase that and take it to schools around the country.”
For parents who want to get their little ones into the kitchen, Helen believes they shouldn’t be scared of a little mess and to try and make it as fun as possible.
“A great game I play with the kids is, I blindfold them, which is already exciting, then you get them to smell coffee or peppermint or cinnamon then you get them get to guess what they are.”
Parents can also get their children more involved in the kitchen with Flossie’s fun website: www.flossiecrums.com, filled with recipes, games to play and more information about Flossie.
Along with the website and the books, Helen has also enjoyed a successful partnership with McDougal’s, the flour manufacturer.
“Working in partnership with McDougal’s has been a major highlight. They have a long heritage with baking so it’s a very good synergy with Flossie. Flossie is now on over 3 million bags of flour.”