Lessons From Baking

For the past few months I’ve been doing a lot of baking without wheat flour. I’ve been using rice powder, soy powder, almond powder, coconut powder or a combination of these. My first try with coconut powder was a disaster since I didn’t read the package that stated: “In other recipes you may only want to replace up to 25% of the wheat or other grain flour with coconut flour. When you replace other flour in recipes, be sure to increase your liquid by the same measure.” I tried to make carrot cookies with a combination of flour but didn’t add the extra 25% of liquid, couldn’t figure out why the batter didn’t stick together. I had crumbs before I started! Threw out the entire batch. Learned the importance of reading the instructions before beginning.

I was in the 2nd grade class this past week and helped them with baking pumpkin muffins. Mrs. Wordell had written the recipe on the board and read through the entire recipe with the students. When she finished explaining the abbreviations she told them how important it is to read the entire recipe before starting.

Pumpkin muffins, mixing dry ingredients.

Pumpkin muffins, mixing dry ingredients.

Pumpkin muffins, measuring pumpkin

Pumpkin muffins, measuring pumpkin

Pumpkin Muffins

2 C flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 C sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 C canned pumpkin
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 C milk

Sift together dry ingredients. Combine egg, pumpkin, oil and milk in a separate bowl. Add to flour mixture. put in paper lined or greased muffin tins. Bake at 400º F for about 18 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

For the most part, my other experiments with various flours have turned out fine. I generally cut the sugar in half of whatever recipe I use and often have substituted honey for the sugar. Also found out that when using honey you should lower the oven temperature unless you like very dark baked goods. Recently I saw this website about substitutions in baking. The other week I was baking banana bread that called for 3 cups of mashed bananas. I only had 2 cups and could not go out for more bananas as I had other things in the oven. So I tried grating an apple and adding it to the batter.

Banana-Apple Bread

1 1/2 C honey
2/3 C coconut oil
4 eggs
3 C bananas(2 C bananas +1 C applesauce)
2/3 C water +1/4 C water(for coconut powder)
3 1/2 C flour( 1/4 C coconut flour, 1/4  C almond powder, 1 C soy powder, 2 C rice powder)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 C raisins or nuts
1/4 C flax seed

Directions: In a large bowl, blend together honey and coconut oil. Add the bananas, eggs, and water, mixing throughly. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder and stir just until moistened. Blend in the raisins or nuts. Grease the bottoms of two large loaf pans or 4-5 small loaf pans and pour the batter into them. Bake at 350º F or 170º C until toothpick comes out clean. For a large pan about 60 minutes, but it depends on oven size and pan size. Cool for 5 minutes and remove from pans.

Banana bread with no sugar

Banana bread with no sugar


This time I tried it with no sugar or honey but added 1 C unsweetened applesauce.  I used the 3 C of bananas, 1/2 C coconut powder, 1 C soy powder, 2 C rice powder and 1/2 C water. Added 1 C dried cranberries instead of the raisins or nuts. I told Okio that it didn’t have sugar and asked what he thought. His response was,”It’s healthy and sweet.” The applesauce, bananas and dried fruit make it sweet. If you’re use to lots of processed sugar, it won’t taste sweet, but it is healthy!

This week will be the Parent Cafe´. I usually bring snacks so I also tried a carrot cake without sugar.

Deluxe Carrot Cake

2 C flour(1/2 C coconut powder, 1 1/2 C rice powder)
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 C sugar(1 C unsweetened applesauce + 1/2 C applesauce for extra liquid)
1 1/2 C salad oil
4 eggs
2 C finely grated carrots
1 C raisins
1/4 C flax seed

Directions: Sift into large mixing bowl, the first five dry ingredients. Add the sugar/applesauce, oil, and eggs. Mix well. Add remaining ingredients. Blend thoroughly. Pour into greased and lightly floured cake pans. Bake at 350º F for 35 – 40 minutes. Once again it depends on oven and pan size. Can be 3 9″ round layer pans or rectangular pan. Remove from the oven when toothpick comes out clean and cool a few minutes in pans on rack. Turn out on racks and let cool thoroughly, right side up.

Carrot cake with no sugar.

Carrot cake with no sugar.

Lessons to learn from baking:

  1. Read all the instructions before your begin.
  2. Check that you have all the ingredients before you begin.
  3. It’s okay to make substitutions, sometimes these will work and sometimes they may not. But don’t give up. Try again.
  4. My mother always said, “If you make it, you need to eat it.” I’ve learned, sometimes you need to throw it out and start again.

These same lessons often apply to teaching.

  1. In the classroom that means, look at the learning targets and the assessments before planning the unit. Know the material. Know what the Big Idea/Enduring Understanding is and lead the students by asking the Essential Questions.
  2. Do you have the resources you need? Make sure you have all the copies, books, pencils, paper, etc before you begin.
  3. It’s okay to try new strategies, sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Try again! Lessons don’t have to look the same each year and even in one unit, try something new once in while.
  4. A new strategy or idea might not work the first time, but talk it over with someone and see what you can tweak. Sometimes it’s good to get advice from someone else and sometimes you need to start again.

In baking, in the classroom and in life be willing to try something new. You’ll never know what you can accomplish until you try.

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