Have you ever tried cooking from scratch? It can be quite intimidating - until you learn a few of the basic tricks! For example, experienced cooks and bakers know that cooking from scratch usually requires following a set of ratios. These ratios give the right amount of each ingredient to make the dish just right.
According to Shirley Corriher, of Fine Cooking, “In cakes, the protein ingredients, which are the flour and eggs, are the major structure-builders. They’re essentially what holds the cake together. Fat and sugar do the opposite; they actually soften the cake’s structure, providing tenderness and moisture. If you have too much structure, the cake will be tough and dry. If you add too much of the moistening, softening fats and sugars, the cake might not set, and could be soupy.”
To start with, beginners should have success in making the 1-2-3-4 cake explained by Brianna Riddock. The 1-2-3-4 cake is an ideal example of following ratios of ingredients to create your perfect cake. It’s a basic yellow cake which can be made for almost any occasion, and generally breaks down to:
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
To this, you’ll want to add vanilla extract, milk, and baking powder. See amounts below.
Here are the steps and ingredients:
1 cup salted butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
How to Make It:
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°. Coat 2 (8x8) baking pans with baking spray and dust with a thin layer of flour.
Step 2: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the softened butter at medium speed, gradually adding sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Mix eggs, one at a time, into the butter mixture.
Step 3: In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, about one cup at a time, adding in milk after each cup; mix until just combined. Mix in vanilla extract.
Step 4: Divide the batter evenly between 2 (8x8-inch) square baking pans and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool 20 minutes before serving.
The Science of Fermentation
Fermenting foods involves both encouraging the growth of favorable micro-organisms while preventing the growth of those that lead to spoilage. This is done when making a wide variety of foods from wine and bread to pickles and cheese.
For bread, yeasts (single-celled organisms) are added to the dough, which feed off sugars and break them into carbon dioxide, resulting in the dough rising. In some breads, alcohol helps bread rise, and in others, baking soda serves as a leavening agent.
Here are a couple of simple bread recipes to make with your kiddos, each using a different leavening agent. For an intro to the material, Raddish Kids has a printable section followed by ideas for science, history, and language arts lessons on Irish soda bread, leaveners, etc. - and here’s a video on the subject. Feel free to create and fill in with your own creative educational ideas on the recipes below!
This beer bread recipe is super easy with just 6 ingredients:
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 12 oz. can of beer
2 Tablespoons melted butter
Prep: Grease a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or melted butter and preheat the oven.
Mix. Grab a large mixing bowl and combine everything but the melted butter. The batter is made from the first 5 ingredients, poured into the prepared pan and the butter is melted and drizzled on top which creates a crunchy crust. For a softer crust, you can mix the melted butter in with the batter. Personally, I am a fan of the crunchy texture!
Bake. It takes about 50 minutes or so to bake, but with variances in ovens you want to check it at 45 minutes or bake up to an hour. You’ll know it’s done when the top is golden brown and the sides pull away from the pan. The toothpick test is always a giveaway – just insert one into the center of the loaf and if all you get are moist crumbs, it’s ready!
If you’ve got any over-ripe bananas around (at least 3 or 4), you can throw an easy batch of banana bread together for breakfast, snacks, or dessert. If you’re pressed for time, grease up 12 muffin cups instead and reduce your cooking time to 15 minutes - you’ll have easy grab-and-go banana muffins instead of a loaf of bread. Either way, banana bread is a fragrant, tasty treat you can enjoy anytime!
Here’s an easy peasy recipe from Allison at Celebrating Sweets:
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted and cooled slightly
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed make sure it is fresh and soft
2 large eggs
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas - about 3-4 bananas
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/3 cup brown sugar (or more, if desired) for topping
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, whisk melted butter and 2/3 cup brown sugar until well combined, about 1 minute. Add eggs, mashed banana, and vanilla, whisking until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, using a rubber spatula, lightly stir the batter until no streaks of flour remain. Be careful not to over mix.
Grease a 9x9 square baking pan and add the batter to the pan. Smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle the top of the batter with 1/4 cup (or more) brown sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating once during the bake time. The bread is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.
Pan sizes: The recipe instructions are for a 9x9 square pan, but you can also use the following:
Muffins: Divide batter between 12 greased muffin cups, adjust bake time to about 15 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
8x8 square: Adjust bake time to 35-45 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
Loaf pan (9x5): Adjust bake time to 45-55 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).
Learning Fractions and Measurements through Basic Cooking
For students learning their fractions, cooking can be a beginner math lesson. Start by looking over all the mixing and measuring tools (spoons, cups, and pitchers or bowls) to see which measurements are displayed on the side. Then let the kiddos scoop and pour the various measurements in (to avoid wasting too much, just do one ingredient a time in a large mixing bowl) to begin to understand how fractions work in cooking.
Here’s a fun video to get you started: Math in the Kitchen
No Bake Chocolate Cookies
Worried about the utility bill during quarantine time? Skip the stove completely with this easy no bake cookie recipe:
1¾ cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup milk
8 tablespoons butter cut into large pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups quick-cooking oats
Add your sugar and cocoa powder to a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk until thoroughly mixed.
Add milk and butter and cook over medium-high heat. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, salt, peanut butter, and oats.
Drop cookies by tablespoons onto parchment paper.
Allow to dry for about 10-15 minutes until the no bake cookies have become firm.
Make lunch together and observe simple math and fractions in the preparation. This mouth-watering French bread pizza recipe is easy enough for kids to do with adult supervision. (You may need to do the cutting for them, depending upon the ages.) Here is a video of the New Sky Kids making French bread pizza, to give your kiddos an idea of what they need to accomplish with this recipe.
French Bread Pizza
One loaf of French Bread
Pizza Sauce (can substitute any sauce)
Italian Seasoning (optional, but will add nice Italian flavor)
Pepperoni (can substitute veggies or your favorite meat)
Garlic Clove (optional)
First, cut a loaf of French bread in half, lengthwise. Place it on a baking sheet and toast it in a 400°F preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes.
Once the bread has been toasted, take a garlic clove and rub it along the top surface of the bread. It turns it into a nice, garlic-infused bread! Is it necessary? No. You can skip this step if you wish.
Next, spread pizza sauce over the top of the bread. You can use homemade or store-bought, whichever suits your fancy.
Top the pizza sauce with a healthy dose of shredded mozzarella and sliced pepperoni. If you want to add sausage, diced peppers, diced onions, or crushed red pepper flakes you can add those at this time too. I opted for a simple family-friendly French Bread Pizza by going with a pepperoni version.
Bake the French Bread Pizza in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is nice and melty!
An Easy Starting Recipe for the Littles to Help
While the finished result may taste like you slaved over the stove all day, the Dump Cake is just how it sounds - dumping ingredients into a pan and cooking it! If you have preschoolers who aren’t quite ready for a math or science lesson just yet, let them dump and stir these ingredients up. They’ll be thrilled and proud to serve their cake once finished!
28 ounces cherry pie filling (1 large can)
15 ounces crushed pineapple (1 can)
18 ounces box yellow cake mix
12 Tablespoons butter
Optional ingredients: chopped nuts, vanilla ice cream, or whipped cream
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Pour the crushed pineapple into the bottom of the pan. Then top with the cherry pie filling.
Dump the cake mix over the fruit. Then slice the butter into thin pieces over the top. Top with nuts if desired.
Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if desired.
Follow Feasted on FaceBook (or Feasted at Home on YouTube) to let your kids watch and join in on making classic recipes prepared by the host, Chris, and his friends. Weekdays offer live cooking classes for children on FaceBook, but if you miss them, you can always tune into the re-runs for just as much fun. Here’s their video on making potato gnocchi.
Raddish Kids has a healthy sweet treat in store below when you print the following recipe for pistachio date truffles and follow the instructions for a little Moroccan study and taste-testing of a traditional Moroccan dessert, normally served with tea.
Pistachio Date Truffles
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