ATK Kids

Kitchen Classroom: Week 32

Week 32 of resources to help kids learn in the kitchen—and make something delicious along the way.

Published Oct. 16, 2020.

Welcome to week 32 of Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly list of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, hands-on experiments, and activities paired with suggestions for how to bring learning to life in the kitchen. 

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This week, young chefs can learn more about pumpkins while making an easy Pumpkin Snack Cake from My First Cookbook, discover what gives garlic its smell while making One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce for a family dinner, conduct a simple science experiment to learn how yeast gives our Overnight Waffles their signature light-and-airy texture, and let their imaginations run wild as they create their very own ice cream flavor in a Make It Your Way Challenge.

Don’t forget to share what your family makes by tagging @testkitchenkids or using #atkkids on Instagram, or by sending photos to Visit the America’s Test Kitchen Kids website for more culinary content designed especially for kids, plus all of the Kitchen Classroom content in one easy-to-scan location. 

Here’s what’s cooking for the week of October 19th through 25th. 

From left: Pumpkin Snack Cake, One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce

Pumpkin Snack Cake

This recipe from My First Cookbook is designed for young chefs ages 5 to 8 to make with just a little bit of help from a grown-up. It’s packed full of fall flavor, thanks to canned pumpkin puree, and comes together in a bowl, no mixer required! While the cake is baking, kids can learn all about pumpkins and take our quiz to test their knowledge of which foods are fruits and which are vegetables. They might be surprised!

What You’ll Need
Vegetable oil spray
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree

Learning Moment
Life Science (Plants):
When measuring out their ingredients, have kids set aside a small amount of extra pumpkin puree. While their cake is baking in step 5, have kids first smell and then taste the pumpkin. Ask them what it tastes like. Does it remind them of any other fruits or vegetables they’ve eaten? 

Explain to kids that even though every can of pumpkin puree has only one ingredient (pumpkin!), there aren’t strict rules about what can legally be labeled as “pumpkin.” Pumpkins are a type of winter squash. There are many, many different types of squash, and also many different types of pumpkin, not just the ones we carve for Halloween. So the “pumpkin” in that can might actually be another type of squash! Ask kids: Can you name any other kinds of winter squash? How many can you name? (Examples: Butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, delicata squash, kabocha squash, carnival squash.) Ask kids: Did the pumpkin you tasted remind you of any of these other kinds of squash?

Take It Further
Life Science (Plants):
Ask kids: Do you think a pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable? (Surprise! It’s a fruit!) Tell kids that a fruit is the part of a plant that grows from a flower and contains seeds inside. Fruits have a skin on the outside (which may be thick or thin), and are usually juicy and sweet so that animals want to eat them. (Fun fact: After animals eat a fruit, they will often spread its seeds through—you guessed it—their poop, causing new plants to grow in new places.) A vegetable, on the other hand, is any of the other parts of a plant that people eat. Some grow above the ground (leaves, buds, flowers, and stems), and some grow below the ground (roots). Now that kids know the difference between fruits and vegetables, have them test their knowledge with our Fruit or Vegetable Quiz!

One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce

Bold flavors and easy clean up are the “secret sauce” of our pantry-friendly One-Pot Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce. While preparing this dish for family dinner, kids will learn how garlic adds flavor to the sauce, and why the smell and flavor of garlic changes when you mince it.

What You’ll Need
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 onion, peeled and chopped fine
1 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, opened
¼ teaspoon sugar
3¾ cups penne pasta
3 cups water
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Grated Parmesan cheese

Learning Moment
Physical Science (Chemical Reactions):
Before kids peel and mince the garlic while preparing their ingredients for this recipe, ask kids to make a prediction: How do they think the smell of the garlic will change from when it is whole to when it is minced?  

Have kids smell the garlic before it’s peeled, after it’s peeled, and again once it’s minced. Ask kids:

  • When did the garlic have the strongest smell? 
  • When did the garlic have the mildest smell? 
  • Did you notice any other changes? 

Kids likely found that the minced garlic had the strongest smell. Explain to kids that garlic smells the most pungent (the strongest) only after its cell walls are broken. When they minced the garlic with a knife or using a garlic press, the teeny tiny cell walls inside the garlic broke, and a compound called allicin (“AL-ih-sin,” pronounced like the name Allison) was created. The more a garlic clove is broken down, the more allicin—and the more flavor (and smell)—are produced. 

Take It Further
Life Science (Plants):
If you have extra garlic cloves, use them to sprout garlic in just a week! Add about 2 inches of water to a drinking glass. Place the garlic cloves in water, root end down (the narrow, pointed end of the garlic clove should be sticking out of water). Put the glass in a sunny location. Every day, discard the water from the glass and replace it with fresh water. Watch your garlic grow! When the garlic sprouts have grown to 5 to 7 inches (after about 1 week), use a chef's knife or kitchen shears to remove the green part. Use your garlic greens the same way you would use chives or scallions—sprinkle them on soups, stews, or even a baked potato. To learn more about how garlic grows outdoors, share this video with kids.

From left: Overnight Waffles, Make It Your Way Challenge: Ice Cream Flavor Creator

Overnight Waffles

With a bit of planning before bedtime, kids can take the lead on making a special breakfast or brunch for the whole family: Make the batter before bed and, when they wake up the next morning, all they have to do is heat the waffle iron and pour in the batter! The yeast in the batter gives these waffles their light and airy texture. Kids can learn more about the science of yeast through the hands-on experiment in the Learning Moment, below. Serve these waffles with maple syrup, honey, cinnamon sugar, confectioners’ sugar, whipped cream, berries, and/or softened butter.

What You’ll Need
1¾ cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Learning Moment
Science (Analyzing and Interpreting Data):
Have kids observe their waffle batter before they place it in the refrigerator in step 4 of the recipe and again when they take it out at the beginning of step 5. What do they notice? How does the batter look different? 

Kids will likely observe that the batter became bubbly overnight. Explain that all those bubbles are the work of yeast. Yeast are tiny, living creatures—so small that just ½ teaspoon contains millions of them! As yeast eat they “burp” carbon dioxide gas. That gas causes yeast doughs or batters to rise. All those holes inside a loaf of bread? That’s the work of yeast!

To learn more about what yeast eat, kids can conduct a simple science experiment.

  • Use a permanent marker to label 3 snack-sized zipper-lock bags “Sugar,” “Salt,” and “Flour.”
  • Add ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast to each bag.
  • Add ½ teaspoon sugar to bag labeled “Sugar.” Add ½ teaspoon salt to bag labeled “Salt.” Add ½ teaspoon flour to bag labeled “Flour.”
  • Add 2 tablespoons room temperature water to each bag.
  • Seal bags, squeezing out as much air as possible. Place bags on rimmed baking sheet.
  • Set baking sheet aside in a place where it won’t be disturbed. 
  • Make a prediction: In which bag do you think the yeast will be the MOST active (make the most carbon dioxide gas)? Why do you think so?
  • After 1 to 1½ hours, observe the results: Which bag inflated the most? Those yeast were the MOST active. Which bag is the flattest? Those yeast were the LEAST active.

Kids will likely observe that the “Sugar” bag inflated the most, the “Flour” bag inflated a little bit, and the “Salt” bag did not inflate at all. Those observations correspond to the food for the yeast that was in each bag. 

The yeast can start eating the sugar in the bag right away—and they start producing carbon dioxide gas quickly, which inflates the “Sugar” bag. In the “Flour” bag, the starches (molecules in the flour) first have to be broken down into sugars for the yeast to eat. When flour is mixed with water, special molecules called enzymes get to work breaking down the long, complex starch molecules into smaller sugar molecules that the yeast can eat. It takes a bit for the yeast to get access to their food in the flour, which is why that bag wasn’t as inflated after an hour. While you’ll find salt in the waffle batter (and in lots of yeasted recipes), it’s not something the yeast eat, which is why the “Salt” bag did not inflate.

Make It Your Way Challenge: Ice Cream Flavor Creator

One of the best things about ice cream is that it comes in so many different flavors. In this activity, challenge kids to create their own unique ice cream flavor—and give it a name! Our No-Churn Ice Cream recipe serves as a base, and kids can add flavor extracts, chocolate, jams, and mix-ins such as crushed cookies or sprinkles by following the suggestions on the activity page.

What You’ll Need:
2 cups (16 ounces) heavy cream, chilled
1 cup (11 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup (2 ounces) whole milk
¼ cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
Flavorings, mix-ins, and/or food coloring (see the activity for a list of ideas)

Learning Moment
Language Arts (Creative Writing) and Visual Art (Design):
After they create their ice cream flavor, ask kids to imagine they are getting ready to sell it in the grocery store. Challenge them to design the packaging for their ice cream creation, using the following prompts:

  • What will you name your ice cream?
  • Think about your favorite ice cream, or look at any ice cream you have in the freezer (or see at the store)—what do you notice about their packaging and labels?
  • What kind of label would you put on your ice cream package? What will it look like? 
  • What information will you put on the label? What do you think your customers will need to know about your ice cream before they buy it? 
  • How will you entice customers to purchase YOUR ice cream instead of the others at the store? 

Have kids draw their ice cream package and label, including whatever information they plan to include. They might want to draw one picture of the front and another of the back of the package. If possible, tape the label on the ice cream container. Share photos or videos of kids’ ice cream package creations using the hashtag #atkkids on social media or by sending them to We might feature them in our newsletter or on Instagram.

On sale through October 31, 2020, explore the wide world of spices in the November edition of the Young Chefs’ Club. Use spices—a couple of which are included in the box—in a range of different dishes that are filled with flavor (but no spicy heat!), from Spice-Roasted Carrots to Chicken Fajitas to Chana Masala and even sweet Spice Cake. Explore the scented science of spices in a hands-on experiment. And make spiced popcorn YOUR way with our Make It Your Way Challenge!  
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