I’m a Day Late, but Guess What I Baked (for Yesterday)!

I feel like I try too hard every week to think of a new way to start blogs when I inevitably type “so this week I” every time when I start. I chose to change that phrase into this mess today, so I’m not sure if that’s an improvement, but it’s a difference all the same.

It was Pi Day Yesterday, as probably all of you know, which is so very exciting and inspirational. So inspiring and inspirational that, when I went to think about how I had said I wanted to make mousse this week, I realized that I was missing literally the perfect opportunity for math and baking. Like, if it’s Pi Day, I think I am seriously failing as a baker if I do not make pie!!!

I was in Regina this weekend so I made my pie with the lady who is related to me in a very complex way involving ” third cousins twice removed” and things like that. She is an excellent cook and an excellent baker, so it was awesome to learn from her. We did like, everything from scratch. We made the graham cracker crust (which like I have NEVER made, I didn’t even know that was a thing people did). It wasn’t that bad, even though I second guessed myself constantly as I was pressing the crumbs and butter and sugar in to the pie plate.

The recipe itself called only for egg yolks, so we did some egg separating! I saw it happen! It was a thing! I didn’t do it myself because she does it with like, the two egg shells and the pass it between the two thing, and I don’t think I’m nearly talented enough for that. Next weekend I am going to try the pop bottle method and let you all know how that goes.

The pie filling needed to be heated and stirred until thickened, and that was also incredible, because that happens so quickly. Like, for the first ten minutes, nothing was happening and I was stirring liquid and thinking that maybe we’d done something wrong and were just going to have to eat coconut soup and call it pie. But then, over the course of like 30 seconds, suddenly it thickened and was doing the slow bubble thing.

When it was finished, I put that stuff into the pie crust, shoved it in the oven, and we went about making the meringue.

The recipe we had technically asked for a dream whip topping, but we had all these egg whites, so we whipped them up with sugar and stuff and made a meringue! I have never ever never ever never seen that done before. Ever. And I have certainly never done it myself! Let me tell you, the most exciting thing in the world is when the eggs start to like, get more frothy, and then you add sugar and like, it turns into magic and I think I’m a wizard, Harry.

Once we added the meringue on top, and ovened it for a bit, we left it outside to cool (yay Canadian winters! Good for something, I guess!)

The pie was really tasty – I am a fan of coconut, it’s a different kind of sweet that I don’t find overwhelming. So this was a great success and I learned a ton!

I learned how to make meringue, I learned how to separate eggs the ‘old fashioned’ way, I learned how to make a graham cracker crust, and I learned to trust a recipe when it says the coconut soup will thicken.

 

Now, obviously, I think that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t tie the making of pie with pi. That would be just a missed opportunity, don’t you think?

 PC30.1 – Extend understanding of angles to angles in standard position, expressed in degrees and radians.

I’d like to point out that I don’t think I would use the pie for the discovery and understanding of radians, because I think there’s some useful treaty and Indigenous content there involving basket weaving and the inherent way some First Nations’ groups use pi without calling it pi (six hands and a thumb…so I guess tau technically, but let’s not get into that debate right here right now on the use of pi and things, I would rather we were all friends and ate pie instead of debating (at this moment, I am a fan of a good old fashioned debate, but I didn’t put my debate shoes on, so I am not prepared)). So instead, I think I would use the pie to introduce the unit circle. Make students actually make the cuts and see the sizes and I don’t know, it’s not exactly inquiry or anything complex. I just think it could be fun to have students looking at a tangible model of the unit circle and to be measuring and cutting the angles out.

Not as in depth math as some of the others, but I also think that there is so much less fun had in pre-calculus, so you know what? I think we all deserve to cut up some pie once in a while!

Birthday Week 2 – Cake

Team, team, team, TEAM! I had my birthday! It was my birthday, I am the best.

I get a little bit too excited when it is wonderful birthday time. I maaaay have reminded my family it was my birthday more than ten times.

So I made my birthday cake, but I didn’t use an online resource for this week’s baking project, because this week I learned from a real live human resource – my  Mother.

How special, me and Samantha cooking a whole two cakes together. And we didn’t even fight!

The cake we made is called a “push cake” according to my Mom, which I guess basically means that you poke holes in a cake and fill them and there’s whipped cream and chocolate-y caramel-y goodness.

I did most of the actually baking, my Mom just directed me in the steps. Her first bit of advice came when I was making the cake. Cake from a box again, next time, I am going to bake some form of thing from scratch because I want to learn how to separate an egg, as this is mysterious goal #1.

She adds 1/2 a cup of milk and 1/4 cup of half and half cream to the recipe instead of the water the recipe asks for because it is more creamy and less healthy, so clearly it is much better.

dsc_0307

I mixed the cake. I actually used a timer this time instead of just counting in my head, so it was probably mixed better than my cupcakes. Of which I still have some. So many cupcakes, why did I do this? I made a mistake. A pretty delicious mistake, but now I have cake, too. This baking project is helping me learn my own ability to estimate how much food I need.

I also got to have the batter off the beaters, which is bad for you, don’t do it!

 

…but I totally did, it was great.

dsc_0308

The cakes went in the oven for about 20 minutes before we took them out, poked a ton of holes in them, and stuck em back in. This point taught me an interesting lesson. Remember with the brownies, where I was like, not sure how long to bake them and they weren’t baking and I was distressed?

One of the cakes, which was smaller, baked quite quickly. The other was hardly baked when we pulled them out to poke them with holes. The one was a little over 1/2 the size of the other, so  it was interesting to see how much the size of the cake affects how quickly it will bake. The larger cake baked for 15 minutes longer than the smaller cake, that’s a huge difference, in my opinion.

dsc_0309

The holes we poked were filled with dulce de leche which sounded so fancy, I was impressed. It was caramel flavoured. Which they don’t usually have, Sarah, so this is very exciting, it will taste so good.

dsc_0311

The cakes were put back in the oven after the dulce de leche moment.

dsc_0312

After they’ve been pulled out, we had to wait for them to cool, which takes so long, let me tell you. I think the worst part of baking is the waiting, I am not a fan. 0/10, would not recommend. Unless you want cupcakes and/or cake, then I guess it’s worth it.

After it was cooled, we covered the top of the cakes with cool whip, caramel sauce, and chocolate chips. And there we go! We did it!

dsc_0319

If anyone wants an actual recipe, I can post it as well with my best attempts at describing all the steps and ingredients!

dsc_0320

The cake was great, I am fond of birthday cake, and I sure sang to myself as I ate the whole thing. Cause I am great.

There is a picture of the cake, but it looks extremely ugly, so I’m not going to post it, I was not the best photographer at that moment.

 

For the math lesson I went with the inquiry approach again. I am surprised I am finding so much opportunity to bring in inquiry , I thought I would mostly include face-value, very basic word problems. But I think they are little more in-depth than that, things that I could legit see myself using, so that’s exciting.

My question would be regarding surface area and volume. Asking students the question “how does poking the holes in the cake affect both the volume and the surface area?” and then letting the students use whatever methods they’d want to measure surface ares and figure out how they could find the volume of the irregular shape. I found two outcomes directed toward surface area and volume, and both also involve units of measurement.

I think it would be cool to see what students could come up with in measuring the cake, what tools to use, what units to use, decimals, or fractions, things like that.

I’d imagine the easiest way to do both the volume and surface area would be measuring the tools used to make the holes in the cake rather than the cake itself. But we’d see if students would come up with that idea.

That’s the idea I have, I think it would help students learn to add and subtract shapes from each other, to break down irregular shapes into shapes they do understand, and to work with estimations and exacts with tangible volumes.

Outcome: WA10.5

Demonstrate using concrete and pictorial models, and symbolic representations, understanding of area of 2-D shapes and surface area of 3-D objects including units in SI and Imperial systems of measurement.

Outcome: WA20.3

Extend and apply understanding of surface area, volume, and capacity using concrete and pictorial models and symbolic representations (SI or imperial units of measurement)

 

Let me know what you think of the math, and if you’d like me to put out a recipe, I am totally down to write out an awful version of what I did to make a cake.

Birthday Week 1 – Cupcakes

So my birthday is in two days and anyone who knows me is aware that I like to celebrate my birthday for the entire week before and after the day because then I can boss my sister around and make her do stuff for me because “it’s my birthday”. It totally doesn’t work, for the record, but we’ll pretend it does.

I had my birthday party this year in Yorkton, as you do when you’re from Yorkton and it is the best place in the world, and you are totally not 22 so of course you need to have a birthday party where all you do is play Jackbox Games and Overcooked and horror D&D (which is not really D&D and my best friend gets mad at me when I call it that, but most people wouldn’t know what I was talking about if I said ‘we played Dread’).

Of course, when one is hosting a birthday party they must include food for said guests, including pumpernickel bread and that’s about it because I love pumpernickel bread more than my life. But I also decided I would try my hand at baking some goods for the party. Usually I just get an ice cream cake and call it that (I did that, too, but I also baked) but, seeing as I am learning to bake, I figured I may as well make some cupcakes.

So, on the day before the party, I sent my loyal minions, sister and friend who plays video game with us and totally cheats, to the store to buy me ingredients for cupcakes. I thought I would continue the trend I had and work on honing a single skill before moving on to more complex baking, so I asked for boxes of cake mix again. Vanilla and chocolate, as I decided I would learn to fill my cupcakes and have those “filled cupcake” things (turns out, spoiler alert, you don’t bake the cupcakes with the filling inside, so I kind of failed at honing my baking fillings thing, but I did learn a ton about baking, as you will soon see). They came back and said “so we bought three packages of cake mix. Because did you want vanilla or rainbow sprinkle batter, Sarah, we didn’t know so we bought both even though we know you LOVE rainbows so clearly there is a winner here”.

So I made 60 cupcakes.

I still have cupcakes and I made them on Saturday. So many cupcakes. I still have like, at least 15, if not 20. There were only 13 people at my house, what was I thinking, 60 cupcakes????

But that is neither here nor there. The point is, I made the cupcake batter, which was pretty easy. I did learn a bit about how to bake better cupcakes from The Food Network, which is also where I found my filling recipe. I didn’t use all of the tips, but I did learn about how the time you spend mixing is important, because you need to spend enough time to let air in and make the cake light and fluffy, but not too much or else it becomes tough.

I didn’t take any photos of the cupcake batter because that was the easy part. None of that caused me any issue, so I am a pro at box cake and brownies now!

Then came the fillings. I used the Food Network website to find my recipe, as I said, and I chose to make three different fillings that looked yummy and exciting – cookies and cream, cookie dough, and banana. This is where things go bad, worse, and then better.

So I followed the instructions on all three, the cookie dough, banana, and the cookies and cream. The cookie dough looked okay, but the banana was not doing the “make stiff peaks” thing that was in the instructions, and instead was just a sad, goopey mess.

dsc_0280

And the cookies and cream just looked awful.

dsc_0279

And I was like, I am not serving this to my people, they will laugh at me and I will be fired. FIRED.

And then I was like, time to quit, Sarah we are throwing in the towel, have a good day, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

But as the mountains of cupcakes on my counter slowly got bigger and bigger, I was like wow, I have way too many cupcakes. But also, I was like I have so much free time, no one is getting here until five and it is 3:00. And then I was like Sarah, you can do this, be the Little Engine that Could and think you can….

So I tasted the fillings to see what was wrong with them.

The cookies and cream one tasted like butter cookies. I knew I needed more sugar. So, I added more confectioner’s sugar, but it’s a kind of short and sweet sweetness to that sugar, where it doesn’t feel like it permeates the baking so much as a flash in the pan it’s done sort of thing. So I also added some brown sugar because it was there, so why not?

dsc_0283

It tasted way better after that. And looked better, although I don’t think you can quite tell in my photos I took.Then to the banana which just tasted like sour sadness. And I thought, what kind of dessert do I like that has banana in it? Maybe I can make it taste something like that? And  you know what I like? Banana cream pie. I added more banana to overpower some of that sour taste, and I looked around my house for some kind of graham pie crust. And I looked all around my house and found corn flakes. And I was like, “Can’t get any worse”, so I crushed some of those up and added them in. And threw in more sugar for good measure.

dsc_0282

That looks like a thing you’d kinda want to eat, maybe! Trust me, it had a much better flavour, so I was pleased.

dsc_0285

Now, to wrap this up, I’ve been talking far too long, I made the cupcakes, decorated mine (everyone could decorate as they wanted) and the one I took a photo of had the cookie dough in it.

dsc_0289

It was real good, so I count that as a success!

Next on the list for me is to make myself my birthday cake! I think I’m going to use a family recipe, so I will learn some baking tips from my family!

As for the math lesson, I am really very pleased that so far all of my learnings and failures in the project have coincided nicely with some mathematical thing I could see it being applicable for. With this project, I thought of how I had to adjust the quantities of things in the recipes, and sometimes add my own strange ingredients in order to make it taste just right. So I thought about linear inequalities with two variables.

Outcome: P20.9 Expand and demonstrate understanding of inequalities including:

  • one-variable quadratic inequalities
  • two-variable linear and quadratic inequalities.

And how, if I were to adjust a recipe to make sure it tasted the best, I need to make sure that I am still keeping it within the bounds of proper taste and structure (so you can’t just not have any banana in a banana recipe. What if you were to make a formula that included the base instructions for the ingredients you’d want to adjust (2 tbs of sugar=2s, 1tbs of salt=t)  and you’d want to make sure your recipe stayed under however many tablespoons or something altogether. So like, you don’t want to have more than 20 tablespoons of either (2s+t ≤ 20).

Now, let’s be perfectly clear here. I don’t think students are going to learn much from this lesson. I don’t think this is the sure-fire way to help students understand inequalities with two variables. But I do think that this is somewhat of an extension of the first lesson I thought of, with adjusting ratios of one ingredient, now we’d be working with changing multiple ingredients, and completely messing up any ratios. I think at the end of the day, it’d teach students more about baking than math. But I think the lesson I’d want them to take away is that math also involves trial and error. Not all attempts are going to succeed, but we can try new things and keep throwing out suggestions, and maybe, even if we don’t come to the perfect answer, we’ll come up with something that leaves us more satisfied than when we started with a goopey mess.

Learning Project – Salted Caramel Cookies

Last weekend, I started up my baking project by going onto the internet with the express intent of going to a website to find out how to make reverse chocolate chip cookies. I quickly found two blogs that had instructions on how to make the cookies I was looking to make. I found that the first blog, The Pioneer Woman, was a little more enjoyable a blog, I found her descriptions humourous. But the second blog seemed to be more drawn out and detailed. So I was planning on using the second blog.

But then, like the clouds parting and the sun shining through, or however that simile works, I saw a link on the second blog. This is how most of my internet escapades go. And this is why I have seventeen tabs open perpetually on my computer. The link on the blog was to salted caramel dark chocolate cookies and I was like “Oh man” and so I clicked on it.

And so, in actuality, this is the blog I used, and the recipe I followed.

First things first, I had to buy ingredients, so I went on a magical journey to the Superstore in Yorkton (because they have a self-checkout so I can avoid any and all human interaction), bought my ingredients, got waylaid by a rouge bag of sour cream and onion chips because the bag was so full of air.

I mean look at these chips. You can't really tell, but the bag is so full of air, it was such a wild ride.

I mean look at these chips. You can’t really tell, but the bag is so full of air, it was such a wild ride.

Well, after that adventure, it was time to bake.

The first thing I learned from the blog was that, in baking, one of her tricks is to make sure the butter is room temperature, the eggs are room temperature, and the dough is chilled. So the baking actually took a lot longer than I anticipated.

It went mostly easy. I made one error, I put some of the dry ingredients in the wrong bowl, so it was a sad moment. I took a picture to commemorate my mistake.

dsc_0257

Which was unfortunate, but I don’t think it really affected things all that much. I accept the mistake, and the rest went off without a hitch. The dough was actually quite thick – at one point, I had to like, mix it with my literal, actual, real-life hand.

Then, I put them in the oven and there we go!

dsc_0260

So, after I tried them, I determined one quite glaring failure.

dsc_0262

As evidenced in this photo, there is no caramel in the salted caramel cookies. I think this is because the recipe called for rolos to be the caramel filling. But I don’t think the rolos had enough caramel in them for the cookies. I still have some dough, so I’m thinking I’m going to try again with actual caramels. But all in all, I found it was not the worst failure.

For the second part of my learning project, I found the caramel fiasco to be particularly interesting and inspiring for my lesson creation.

In Grade Eight there is an outcome in math dealing with ratios. In the school I was at, the way we were asked to mark the outcome was actually just to have students solve problems with ratios.

“Outcome N8.3 – Demonstrate understanding of rates, ratios, and proportional reasoning concretely, pictorially, and symbolically.”

I was thinking about the caramel, and how I didn’t have enough, and then it also made me think of a picture I’ve seen online before. I cannot find it, which is the most distressing, so if anyone knows what I’m describing, maybe they can tell me where to find it? It is a photo of a line of cookies, and each cookie is shown with a description underneath. Each description is showing what a cookie looks like with too much flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, etc.

So I think it would be interesting to have students be assigned a single, simple recipe. Perhaps like chocolate chip cookies, and, in groups, be assigned an ingredient. Then, they will have to explore what happens to the recipe when you adjust the amount of only that ingredient and report on their findings. Through this, students would learn about why ratios are important, why it is important to keep ratios the same, and what happens when you don’t respect the balance of a ratio.

Now, obviously, some students may not have the time or finances to make cookies, or multiple batches of cookies. But I think you could get around some of this in a few ways. One is for the teacher to buy the ingredients to share amongst the students. The teacher can also give them recipes that only make 10 or so cookies, so the batches are much smaller. It also brings about the opportunity for cross-curricular lessons. In Grade Eight in Yorkton, our students have one day every six days that they get to go to another school or the High School to go do other classes, like woodshop or home ec. to do those classes. If you wanted, you could work with the the home ec. teacher to help students make their baking, and that way you are not expecting students to do baking in their own time.

This is all I have for you today, I hope you enjoy, and I hope the basic lesson idea is interesting to some people!

Learning Project

For my learning project this year I am hoping to learn to do two different things. One that I think will really benefit my future as a teacher. And the other because it will also sort of benefit my future as a teacher.

First off, I am going to learn how to bake. Because I honestly really enjoy it, but have never gotten past the stage of cupcakes from a box and stick it in the oven and they don’t cook long enough so my Mom saves me and makes them better and thanks Mom I am a failure. The reason this will sort of benefit my future as a teacher is that I made baking for my students once for a birthday (well, my family really saved the day, mine weren’t that great), and I really enjoyed the idea of having rewards and fun little things like baking for my students really helped me feel like I developed a relationship with them. Bribery does wonders, haha.

Seriously though, it was more than that because it was a student who told me her birthday was on Monday so she off-hand mentioned that she could like a birthday snack, and so I made cupcakes. And to see how excited she was that I followed through with my promise when she didn’t expect me to was amazing. I always see a lot of exciting desserts and snacks on all of those blogs online (where I just looked at a few to find some ideas for my post and now I want to make all of the snacks), and I’d like to expand my knowledge and ability in baking to things far more diverse and interesting than just cookies. All the cookies. So many cookies.

 

Secondly, what I am going to do with each recipe, is find a way to incorporate an outcome and make a basic, bare bones lesson plan that I could theoretically use in a classroom. Because I did a very basic cooking assignment in my Grade 8 class involving baking that I really liked and I wished I could have expanded and made the lesson work better. So, I am going to prove to myself that I can make real life math applicable and fun for students. And they would get sweet food out of it, too. My goal is to have a different math class for each recipe, and give a brief description of how the math was involved and what I did with it when I was doing my baking.

I am excited to try this because I found that, in my internship, I tried to do a lot of fun and interesting things, but most of the fun and exciting things I did were not in math, but in other classes instead. I still need to up my inquiry learning game, but I thought a good place to start would be with just finding those connections to real life and to prove to myself that you can incorporate anything into at least some part of your math class, you just have to be creative and actually put in some effort. Which can be a standing metaphor for anything you’d want to incorporate – be it Treaty Ed (which I did do), inquiry, math games, etc.

turtle-cheesecake