March 2, 2016

The Most Effective but Least Talked About Parenting Trick.

vegan cupcakes

Many parents endorse the notion that giving their children “experiences” is a way to build meaningful memories into their childhoods and I’m all for that.

We don’t spend a lot of money on our kids, in part because there’s not a lot to draw from. We are both self-employed which means fewer client results in less money. The silver-lining of this black financial cloud is that my spouse and I are free to spend more time with our children.

When you spend a lot of time with your kids, you need to use all the tools in the box.

A recent favorite of mine?


In an effort to squeeze the last little bit of time out of the most recent school vacation, I announced that we would have “Family Reading Time” on the evening before school started back up. I was asked what we would be reading, to which I responded, “We are not reading the same book. You can, individually, read whatever you want, but it should be ‘for pleasure.’”

The six of each picked a book, and we sat together for an hour and a half, quietly reading in one another’s company.

Now, you’re probably wondering how this came together without complaints or whining—and there is a simple answer to this question:


Homemade vegan cake with coconut frosting is a bona fide incentive to get children (ranging in age from 8 to 15) to sit and spend some quiet “together time” with their parents.

So there you go, we used bribery—yep, good old fashioned tit for tat. For those of you who haven’t tried this, it works. It works great. Some folks use jars with coins or charts with stickers, which is the same idea except cake tastes better than dimes and gold stars.

While culturally we frown upon bribery—in many states it is a serious crime—as parents, we are free to use whatever tools are available to us to build those “meaningful experiences” with our children.

And mark my words, next Sunday, we’ll be gathering for cake in the living room; and yes, I’ll insist on everyone having a pleasure book to read.

And you, too, can get on the cake-bribery wagon.

Here’s how:

After making the “Vegan Cupcakes” from allrecipes.com over a dozen times, I made some variations which make the cake a little more dense and a bit less sweet: increase the flour to 2.5 cups and decrease the sugar by an eighth. I also gave up on the cute little cupcake shape. Now, I bake my adapted recipe in a nine-inch round cake pan at 350 for 35 minutes or until just lightly brown on top. Let the cake cool completely and then, with a long knife, cut off the top half of the cake and make sure the center is cool before frosting.

The frosting is 0.5 cup of vegan spread, about 3 cups of powdered sugar, a splash of extract–any kind depending on your preference, and about 2-3 tablespoons of non-dairy “milk.” You may have to play around a bit with the powdered sugar and/or “milk” to get it to a semi-fluffy consistency.

On the bottom layer, I recommend some sort of jam before your layer of frosting. Then put the top on, and frost the sides and top.

Our favorite combinations are orange marmalade with vanilla frosting, raspberry with lemon frosting, and fig jam with ginger frosting. (For the lemon variety, grate some zest and add it to the frosting; for the ginger, just toss in some finely grated, fresh ginger root.)

So many possibilities for successful bribery await the intrepid parent-baker.

The recipe I adapted per the above can be found here.





Author: Jenna Brownson

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: sweetonveg at Flickr 

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