It's no secret that kids learn while they're at play, but baking
is a particularly great way to make learning interactive, effective
and fun. With so many positive outcomes wrapped up into one
activity, teachers, parents and others responsible for helping young
people learn can use baking to create hands-on experiences that
relate to everything from science to managing money.
Consider all of the ways that baking can apply to school subjects,
everyday life skills and a richer food future:
Science -- Chemistry goes hand in hand with baking. A range of
results can be clearly seen when including -- or leaving out -- key
ingredients. Biology, agriculture and local food production become
real when kids learn where ingredients like flour, butter, sugar
and leavening come from, or the physical changes that occur in a
product when substituting ingredients to meet health and nutritional
Math -- Baking is
an activity that applies sequencing, ordering, fractions,
weights, measures, dimensions, temperatures, adding,
subtracting, dividing and multiplying. Children can learn at all
ages, from the early days when they can stack measuring cups and
count out the number of ingredients that go into a recipe to
more complex tasks for older kids, like working with fractions
and calculating the costs and savings of do-it-yourself baking.
Health -- As you pick out recipes and ingredients for baked goods,
it's the perfect opportunity to talk about the nutritional value and
function of the grains, milk, eggs, fruits, veggies, sugars, butter,
leavening and salt used in baking. There's sometimes a misperception
that baking can't be healthy, but teaching kids how to divide and
control portion sizes, and to bake using a wide variety of
ingredients, actually helps young people try new foods and
-- Learning about managing household resources
is a skill that will benefit kids throughout their lives. Baking not
only teaches kids how to make delicious foods for themselves but also includes lessons about how much it costs when others prepare
food for you, how much you can save with a few do-it-yourself food skills,
saving and managing money. The economics of an active lifestyle
includes food skills that save money and time while burning
calories and building traditions.
Literacy -- Another critical skill comes with reading ingredient
lists, recipe directions and sequencing preparation steps. Combining
reading with baking emphasizes comprehension, because kids apply
what they're reading to an activity. If you miss a step in the
instructions or don't read it properly, it can have a dramatic
effect on what you're baking. But all is not lost -- this leads to
evaluating the results, problem-solving and critical thinking to
improve the product.
Baking at home was far more common, if not essential, in past
generations. Many adults have lost those skills. However, research
conducted in 2011 by Mintel for the Home Baking Association showed
that adults still know baking brings value to life -- 33 percent say
they would bake from scratch, if only they knew how. Because no
one's too old, or young, to learn to bake, it can be a great way for
parents and kids to share a learning experience. And if you try out
some of grandma's or great-grandma's baking recipes, it can be a
tradition-rich, multigenerational family affair.
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In the classroom or at home, there are countless opportunities for
kids to gain a deeper understanding through baking. For classroom
baking lessons, after-school activities, kitchen science
experiments, a complete baking glossary, resource links and more,
visit www.homebaking.org. On the site, you'll also find the DIY
Baking Channel, where you can watch baking videos and learn how to
make anything from fruit tarts and whole-grain breads to pizza and
Makes 12, (2.25 ounces/66 grams) squares or wedges
1 cup white, yellow or whole grain cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour (may alternatively use half whole wheat and half
1 or 2 tablespoons sugar, optional
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup low-fat milk or skim milk
3 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese or reduced-fat cheese
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup chopped green, red or yellow peppers
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Grease bottom and sides of 9-inch square or round baking pan.
Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar (optional), baking powder and salt
in medium mixing bowl.
In separate small mixing bowl, beat egg with fork or whisk. Add
milk and melted butter, beating well.
Add egg mixture to dry ingredients; mix only until dry
ingredients are moistened and combined.
Stir in cheese, onions and peppers. Do not over-mix; the batter
will not be smooth. Pour batter into greased pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown and wooden pick inserted
in center comes out clean.
Option: Pour batter into greased muffin cups. Bake 18 to 20 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins.
Excerpted from "Baking with Friends," the 2012 Purple Dragonfly
Award-winning children's cookbook, by Sharon Davis and Charlene
Patton. The book has also received the Benjamin Franklin IBPA and
Kansas Notable Book awards.