Cupcake Science and Art
Mixing batter has all the elements of a good scientific potion; measurements, combination of ingredients, etc. The finishing touch of decorating with sticks and a palette of colored frosting results in varied artistic masterpieces. The eating of the cupcake is a satisfying end to a project well done.
Boxed yellow cake mix -
Two cup measuring pitcher-
HOW TO PRESENT IT TO YOUR GROUP:
Have groups of 3-6 children mix their own batch of batter. This turns into 4 or 5 cupcakes per child so I only do it when we have a specific baking or cooking class. Each member of the group should be responsible for one job plus mixing. There are 3 eggs to be cracked, 1 amount of water to be measured and poured, 1 measure of oil to be poured and 1 bag of dry mix to be added. Everybody takes even turns mixing and filling the cupcake papers.
Our normal routine is to make one batch for every 20 students. In this case I will have the students gather and I add the ingredients. I ask them to help by closing my eyes when I pour the water and oil; letting them tell me when it is at the proper measure. I often juggle eggs and do egg toss with my assistants for a bit of dramatic flair. I then have everyone stir 5 times while I hold the bowl. I put the batter in the cupcake papers in the pans and put them in the oven.
Once the cupcakes are cooled we can begin the artistic part of decorating:
1. Use white frosting and food coloring to create several colors of frosting; dont forget the chocolate. Make color palettes on paper plates so that generous dollops of each color are on as many plates as you need for the class. I will often have a separate plate for chocolate and white frosting. Put popsicle sticks in each color as spreaders.
2. You can also put frosting in plastic sandwich bags, twist tie the opening, trim the corner with scissors and you have an instant piping bag.
3. Wash hands and explain the hygiene of not licking spreading sticks, fingers or in-process cupcakes. Etiquette requires that nobody eats until all are done or it is allowed by the instructor.
4. Make a demonstration cupcake design so they see how to use the popsicle sticks as spreaders and frosting brushes. If you are using piping bags, show them how to use those for detail.
5. Pass the cupcakes out and have fun.
The science is in the mixing and measuring of ingredients and the application of heat (baking). Decorating with different colored frosting adds an art element to the project.
There are four parts to our cupcake making; the first is the measuring, mixing and baking of ingredients (very scientific). The second step is the oven baking time, third is decorating with frosting (art), the last is eating (the reward for a successful project). Each of these steps takes 10-15 minutes and timing is important.
It is important that the children are present during measuring and mixing but need to be engaged with something else during oven time. The cupcakes should cool completely before decorating so there is at least 30 minutes between coming out of the oven and spreading frosting. Finally, you want to think about when you want your children to eat a cupcake. I usually have them eat just before pick-up!