Welcome to week 41 of Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly kid-tested and kid-approved recipe, hands-on experiment, or activity paired with a Learning Moment that brings learning to life in the kitchen.
In this week’s edition of Kitchen Classroom, Kids Cook Breakfast! With a little adult help, even the youngest chefs can make breakfast for the whole family with this supereasy recipe for Sheet Pan French Toast from My First Cookbook. Kids will learn the science behind how bread absorbs custard during this week’s Learning Moment. Then, everyone can join in a language arts-based guessing game in Take It Further as you enjoy your breakfast together.
Don’t forget to share what your family makes by tagging @testkitchenkids or using #ATKkids on Instagram, or by sending photos to email@example.com. Visit the America’s Test Kitchen Kids website for more culinary content designed especially for kids.
Here’s what’s cooking for the week of October 11th through 17th, 2021.
Kids Cook Breakfast: Sheet Pan French Toast
This recipe is less fussy AND less messy than your typical French toast, and makes enough to serve four people all on one sheet pan! Make sure your sandwich bread slices measure 4 by 6 inches and are ¾-inch thick to make sure they soak up all the custard (supermarket presliced white bread is the perfect size). To use whole-wheat, oatmeal, or multigrain sandwich bread, you’ll need a little more custard: Use 4 eggs and increase the milk to 1⅓ cups.
[GET THE RECIPE]
What You’ll Need
Vegetable oil spray
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
8 slices hearty white sandwich bread
Physical Science (Structure and Properties of Matter):
Before placing the bread slices on top of the custard in the baking sheet in step 4, ask kids to make a prediction: What do they think will happen when the bread touches the custard? Ask them to observe the baking sheet closely as they lay the bread slices down. Kids will see that the custard is fully absorbed by the bread over the course of 1 minute. Did this outcome match kids’ predictions? Where do they think the custard went?
While the French toast bakes, explain to kids that to transform plain bread into French toast, the bread needs to absorb the liquid custard mixture. Ask kids: Have you heard the word “absorb” before? When, and what does it mean? Explain that to absorb something is to take it in or swallow it up. To demonstrate this idea, set up a simple model for kids to see absorption in action:
- Add water to a shallow bowl or pie plate until it's about ½ inch deep.
- Place a dry or wrung-out sponge in the center of the bowl.
- Have kids observe how the liquid travels from the bowl into the sponge.
- Have kids squeeze the sponge to release the liquid back into the bowl.
- Ask kids to observe the sponge up close; what do they notice about its texture? How might this explain how the sponge absorbs the water?
Kids will likely notice that the sponge is full of many small holes. Explain that inside of those holes are lots of tiny air pockets. When the sponge is placed in the water, the holes act as channels, and the water is sucked up through them, filling up the air pockets. The pockets hold onto the water until it’s forced back out through the holes when the sponge is squeezed. Ask kids to observe an extra piece of bread. Can they see tiny holes in its surface? (This is a good time to use a magnifying glass, if you have one.) Explain that, in this recipe, the bread acts just like a sponge; it’s also full of tiny air pockets, which absorb the custard, making the bread moist and squishy (and delicious after baking!). For more examples of absorption, younger kids can check out this video from Sesame Street.
Take It Further
English Language Arts (Speaking and Listening):
As your family sits down at the table to enjoy their French toast breakfast, challenge them to a game of “I’m Cooking Breakfast” (modeled after “I’m Going on a Picnic”). To play this game:
- Have one person start by secretly choosing a rule or category that all of the breakfast items have to follow, such as “foods that are yellow,” “foods that are sweet,” or “foods that begin with vowels.” (Don’t share the rule out loud!)
- That person starts the game by saying “I’m cooking breakfast, and I’m making. . .” filling in the blank with something that follows the rule. For example, if the category is “foods that are yellow,” they might say “I’m cooking breakfast and I’m making scrambled eggs.”
- The next player tries to figure out the pattern by saying "I'm cooking breakfast and I’m making. . .” followed by a new breakfast item.
- Then, the player who started says either “Yes, you can make that for breakfast,” or “No, you can’t make that for breakfast,” based on whether the new item follows the rule or not. For example, if the second player said “I’m cooking breakfast, and I’m making cranberry juice,” then that would not follow the rule.
- Players continue taking turns around the table until someone can guess what the rule is, or until everyone agrees they’re stumped and the first player reveals the rule.
- Start a new round with another player choosing a new rule or category.