Friday, July 16, 2010

Experimental Cakes

My husband is the fifth of seven children.  By the time he came around there was no need to hire a babysitter if mom and dad had to go out.  There were older children to watch the younger ones.  I'm sure that many a great adventure was had when all the kids were left home to fend for themselves.  I doubt that I know even the least of them.  But, one thing I have heard about is their kitchen experiments.  When only the kids were home they would create "secret recipes"...aka crazy concoctions.  I imagine that the kitchen did not look pretty after these experiments.  And, my husband informs me that the recipes never turned out to be much good either.  But, it was good fun and he still loves to create his own masterpieces when he cooks.

With that in mind, today I decided to venture where I do not often go... I let the kids make their own experimental cakes. Anything goes.  They chose the amounts, proportions, and ingredients. Don't don't tune out on me mamas, it's not as crazy as it sounds, this was really fun.  Take a deep breath and tell yourself you can do this.  I gave them a little lesson before hand about what usually goes in a cake.  A cake always has:
Butter, oil, or some kind of fat
Leavening (like baking powder)
and some kind of liquid

I set those ingredients out on the table and with that, we set out into the unknown.  They looked so empowered as they debated on how much sugar they should add whether they had achieved just the right taste. 

They chose their components carefully. We even wrote down the recipes as we went along.

 My daughter chose to divide up her batter and  infuse each one with a different flavor (strawberry, coconut, and chocolate) and then layer the batters to try to make a neopolitan look.  I was impressed.

The batter was quite yummy, really it was.  We licked out fingers alot.

 I had serious hope that they may turn out to be Iron Chefs someday.  They could hardly wait until the cakes came out of the oven.  And when we got out first glimpse of them they looked......squished. 

Lovely but squished.  Perhaps the fact that each cake had only one egg?

After taking a look at the cakes we created our own icings, based again on the kids' ideas. 

Finally we all sat down to the table to sample their wares.  The first bite was, um, dense.  But come on, it was their first attempt at cake making. 

We each took a few bites and let them slowly mill around in our mouths before we helped them slide down with a glass of milk.  I tried to be positive.  "Thanks for helping me bake these cakes CHEF!" I said to my son.  He gave me a weird look and said
 "I'm no CHEF!  I'm weak! That was DISGUSTING!"

My wonderfully pleasant daughter tried to smooth over the situation.  "I tasted yours" she said to him "And I think it was...(I could tell she was searching for a polite thing to say that wasn't totally dishonest)  But, while she thought he filled in the blanks "AWFUL?"  he said.  "Maybe a little ROTTEN EGGY?"

I couldn't help it, I cracked up laughing.  The cakes were just not very good.  But we had a great time and they said they want to do it again..only with more eggs and....a little more research on cake making.  It tooks us a few hours to do this together and it was time well spent.  We talked and we learned things about baking and the kids felt important. It was the kind of afternoon that left us with happy, funny memories. So, the next time you are looking for something to do with the kids let down your guard a little and bake some experimental cakes.  Only, don't plan on serving them to company or anything.


  1. Hi! I just came across your blog and wanted to say, I think this is a GREAT idea! Not only does it let the kids get messy and have fun, AND teaches them a great deal about cooking, but I'm also thinking this could be a great Family Home Evening lesson, as well! I can totally see using this as a lesson in following directions. That sometimes it may seem like a good idea to just make up your own rules, and it might even be fun for a while - but our end results are always better when we "follow the directions" (aka be obedient). What do you think? Although my twins are only 3, so we may have to wait a couple of years to try this one out! :) Thanks for the great posts - I've already come across a few ideas I want to try! :)

  2. I think that's a great idea to use this for a Family Home Evening Lesson. And hey, my little guy is only four so a three year old may have a great time baking crazy cakes with you :)