Baking a cake is easy. You just get some ingredients, mix them together, put them in a tin and then put it in the oven to cook. Hey presto, you have baked a cake. Easy.
But, if you learn at home or think outside the basic square, you will find that baking a cake is a lot more complex than that. Baking a cake incorporates all of the Key Learning Areas (KLA’s) that are requirements for learning in schools (at the moment). It covers English, Maths, Science, TAS, HSIE, PDHPE, STEM, Language and Creative Arts.
Let me explain & break it down a little bit more.
English – reading, comprehension, vocabulary
Maths – time, temperature, measurement
Science – chemical reaction, matter, elements
TAS (Technology and Applied Studies) – product manufacturing, equipment use, evolution
HSIE (Human Society and It’s Environment – History, Geography, Economics & Culture) – history of cooking, appliances, traditions
PDHPE (Personal Development, Health and Physical Education – health, safety, wellbeing & physical activity) – physical movement, nutrition, abilities
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) – creativity, critical thinking, + above points for Science, TAS and Maths
Language – communication, culture, terminology + above points for English & HSIE
Creative Arts – creativity, appreciation, making + above points
Then we can have deeper discussions (as well as experimenting, watching videos, doing more research, exploring, artwork etc.) within these areas to learn more about various aspects of baking a cake such as:
William Farrer; various forms of wheat and what they are best suited for; climatic conditions; geographical terrain; soil types; water requirements; yield production; Sunshine Harvester; harvesting machinery and equipment; grinding and production; different forms / types of flour; gluten; packaging; distribution; transportation, etc.
Monotremes; why we use chicken eggs; weighing of eggs; egg sizes, colours and shapes; structure of an egg (shell, white, yolk, membrane etc.); decorating; painting; dying; carving; blowing; fertilisation; various bird species; Australian bird species; bird habitats; bird foods; predators; feral animals; migration; bird development; feathers, etc.
Climatic conditions, geographical location, harvesting, processing, various forms of sugar (apart from sugar cane, e.g. fruits, milk, words ending in ‘ose’ ); natural vs. manufactured; role of Islanders and Indigenous people; living conditions and work conditions; exporting; dissolvability; why we use sugar, etc.
Enzymes; lactose; intolerances; milk sources; mammals; plant ‘milk’; why we use mainly cattle milk; climatic conditions; cattle food eaten; how milk is collected; traditional method of milking vs. modern ways; milk processing; pasteurisation; homogenisation; milk containers; other products produced from milk; milk use in beauty and skin products, etc.
Combining of ingredients:
Manufacturing of products used (e.g. glass bowls, plastic measuring cups, silicone baking mats, metal cooling racks, etc); why we use different materials for different roles (e.g. properties, availability, technological advancement, etc.); traditional method and tools vs. modern appliances; time taken and time management; chemical reactions; change of state (liquid / solid); physical action and muscles used, etc.
Baking of cake:
How electricity is made, stored and distributed; substation function; power lines overhead vs. underground; radiation; alternative forms of power (e.g. wind, solar, water, physical etc.); other cooking sources and how they are produced (gas, pyrolytic, conventional, microwave, solar, wood, radiant etc.); oven temperatures; Farenheit vs. Celsius; telling and measuring of time; how to prevent a cake from sticking in the pan; knowing how to tell when a cake is cooked, etc.
Decorating a cake:
Edible toppings / decorations (e.g cinnamon, coconut, sprinkles, fruit, nuts, chocolate – how they are grown / processed / manufactured / come from etc.); food dyes; natural vs. man-made, etc. Other decoration pieces – what they are made from; where they came from; how they are made / painted / decorated; why we decorate cakes, etc.
Natural vs. chemical / man-made; wicks; candle manufacturing; colouration and decoration of candles; why we use candles on cakes; why we make a wish when we blow out a candle; other uses for candles (e.g. lighting, lubricate stuck materials, seal documents, ‘secret’ writing etc.), etc.
Serving of a cake:
Material cake is placed on (e.g. glass, wood, metal, ceramic. etc.); how it is manufactured / made; material used to cut the cake; material used to place served cake onto; utensils used to eat cake and what they are made from, etc.
What does it taste like overall? Can you identify any of the individual ingredients? Would you use this recipe and ingredients again? What did it taste like raw compared to cooked? What did it smell like raw? What did it smell like being cooked? What did it smell like coming out of the oven? Does it have a smell once it is cooled? What colours did you notice of the individual raw ingredients? What colour did it end up once the ingredients were all mixed together? What colour did it have once it was cooked? How crumbly is the cake? Is the texture smooth or rough or sticky? How dry or moist is the cake? etc.
Traditionally recipes were handed down in families from observation, then by telling of recipes, then by writing them down and swapping them amongst friends, but now we can access them on TV shows or the internet. Where did this recipe come from? What are your handed down family recipes? Roles of women and mothers in cooking for families and how this is changing due to women working outside of the home more, etc.
How food was traditionally stored; how food is stored today due to inventions such of refrigerators, freezers and dehydration; more even and moderated cooking of food due to being able to keep a constant heat; how our food choices have changed over the centuries and decades; multicultural foods and ingredients; foods used in celebrations; foods used for celebrations, etc.
Other topics to consider could include:
Store bought / mass produced vs. home-made; shelf life of food items; preservatives; additives; food colouring; distance food travels to get to your home; supporting local farmers and producers; buying Aussie to keep Aussie people employed, etc.
So next time you bake a cake, or cook anything at all for that matter, spare some thought for all that goes into providing the ingredients and other materials needed, share your knowledge and have a discussion about all the different ‘subjects’ you are learning about. There really is so much more to baking a cake than just mixing ingredients together and cooking it.
Enjoy your cake.