Wednesday, 4 November 2009

cooking with kids:Basic Chocolate Cupcakes

My eldest son loves making cakes. If his sister is out on a play date and he gets to choose the activity it is always making cakes or biscuits. Making cakes is magical for children- you get to make a sticky gooey mixture (breaking the eggs in is always fought over as is sifting the flour) then they put it in the forbidden oven and it changes into something that looks and feels totally different, smells wonderful and you get to eat it as well - an activity that uses all the senses. This recipe is a very basic chocolate cupcake which you can decorate when cool if you choose; I must confess this is usually what we plan to do but somehow they all get eaten before this happens! It also provides opportunities for counting out the cupcake cases, using a spoon to put the ingredients on the scale and older children can say whether more or less is needed with each ingredient, how much or how little you make of it is up to you.

The equipment you will need (apart from an oven!) - scales to weigh the ingredients, spoons to measure and mix with, a balloon whisk (or electric whisk) to mix everything together, a 12-hole baking tray and paper cupcases to put in it,large mixing bowl, sieve.
The ingredients you will need:
125g butter or margarine
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
125g self-raising flour (minus one large spoonful)
cocoa powder, about 1 large spoonful
splash of milk

Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius or gas 4. Lay out the cupcake cases in a 12-hole baking tray.
Have the butter or margarine at room temperature so they will mix easily. Mash together the butter and the sugar with a spoon until you can't see any sugar left (the more you mix it together the lighter the colour will become and the lighter the cakes will be, ideally it should be the colour of cream but don't worry if it isn't they will still taste good).
Break in the eggs and mix together with a balloon whisk or an electric whisk (obviously a balloon whisk can be used by the kids on their own) the mixture should change to a kind of paste, if it doesn't and is kind of curdled then add a small spoonful of your flour.
Take the 125 g flour and remove one spoonful - replace this with a spoonful of cocoa - not hot chocolate powder as this contains extra ingredients such as milk powder and sugar and won't give you a good chocolate kick. Sieve the flour mixture into the butter mixture and mix quickly in with the whisk.
Take a spoonful of the mixture and hold it up above the bowl, turn the spoon over- the mixture should be wet enough for a dollop to drop off the spoon, if not add a splash of milk.
Divide the mixture between the buncases and put in the oven to cook for 10-15 minutes. The cakes are done when they look spongy and are firm not wet when gently pressed. Leave to cool before decorating (or not!) as desired.

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