Well, if you can’t eat it, then at least it should matter that you can play with it. Science is meant to be a journey, an exploration. It should be creative and interactive. We need to “play” around with materials in order to hypothesize. So while, I’m no “Bill Nye the Science Guy”, I do think that Science concepts can be greatly enhanced through other means, such as cooking in this case, or say Dramatic Arts, visual representations, and so on.
Now this is what I call double duty: Science and chocolaty goodness all rolled into one. It happened that my brother hadn’t had a proper birthday celebration and because we’re nice that way we decided to bake him a cake. Being a teacher, ”just baking”, means that I’m always looking for connections to learning. As we mixed, I was talking to my daughter about a cookie recipe that I did with my grade 5 class last year to investigate how chemical changes in matter are irreversible from the Ontario Science curriculum and well, the baking ended up as part lesson too – (don’t worry, it wasn’t boring!). The Ontario Science strand for this area is called “Understanding Matter & Energy: Properties and Changes in Matter”. We also talked about how matter that changes state is still the same matter. I explained that even though the egg changed state from liquid to solid, matter, – (which is everywhere, except for energy), was still there. I didn’t talk about matter ad nauseum, and I only elaborated enough to get her interested and asking more information, because otherwise that’s ruining the fun right?
Not surprisingly, my girl had two “aha!” moments that connected her previous understanding of fractions to new understandings which was good because struggling with fractions is no fun at all!
Here is the recipe. I apologize as I’m always irritated when metric is not used because I feel that children need to get a sense of proper measurement metric terminology such as millilitres and litres, which are underused in so many recipes that cater to Imperial measurement. It’s only that this is what I’ve got time for at the moment. And I have a sleeping baby in my arms.
2 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour (I’ve used whole wheat and no one can tell the difference)
3 large ripe bananas, pureed or mashed
1 1/2 cups of sugar (I used a combination of Agave and Sucanat because that’s what I had on hand. Use whatever sweetener you prefer except for stevia unless you can figure out the equivalent amount needed.)
1 cup of canola oil, Earth’s Best spread, or butter
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 1/4 cups of water
1 1/4 tsp. of baking soda
1 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
2 large eggs
What to do
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Celsius.
- Grease two round pans with coconut oil or oil, and lightly dust with flour.
- Beat all ingredients with electric mixer on low for 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.
- Beat on high for three minutes, scraping occasionally.
- Pour into pans, bake for 30-35 minutes (check by inserting a skewer or similar tool into center – if it comes out clean, it’s ready).
- Cool for ten minutes, remove from pans.
- Cool on baking rack completely.
For the icing, we were not very ahem, mathematical. We threw together about 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 3 tbsp. of coconut oil in lieu of butter, 1 tsp. of vanilla, 2 or 3 tbsp. of baking cocoa and about 3-4 tbsp. of milk.
To make frosting:
- Mix sugar and coconut oil at low speed.
- Stir in vanilla and cocoa.
- Gradually beat in just enough milk to make frosting smooth and spreadable.
- Add drops of milk if frosting is too thick; beat in sugar if it’s too thin.
The finished product , – (cut into quarters, then twelfths!), has crushed walnuts, which you’ll avoid if you’re anaphylactic, right?
Thanks to an old friend Kathleen for the original recipe and apologies to her for changing it so much. But it doesn’t matter, as long as the results melt in your mouth. Mmmnnn, Science!