Delicious Experiments: Science in the Kitchen

Elizabeth, Nora, Charlotte, and Lexi crowded around the stove, peering into a pan where a pancake slowly browned. Like scientists conferring over an important experiment, the girls observed and made predictions.

But, in this science lab, lab coats are replaced with personalized aprons, bunson burners become stove tops, and lab reports double as recipe books.

Today’s edible experiment involved pancakes. Grady reviewed the groups’ task: “We can make them fluffy, crispy, or thin, and we can add chocolate chips or blueberries or other stuff to it.” His group decided to start with a thick, soft, fluffy version.

Kate recorded the group’s process in her recipe book/lab report. “I’m writing what we did – the hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion,” she said. “We wanted it to be fluffy, so we sifted the flour and didn’t push it down” while it cooked.

“I’m pretty sure it worked because the pancakes were fluffy,” Kate concluded.

Nora’s group started their experiment by following the basic recipe, then methodically added new ingredients. “First we made two regular pancakes,” she said.

“Then we altered the recipe by adding cinnamon,” Elizabeth added, pointing to the tiny speckled pancake still cooking.

“This pancake is to test if we have enough cinnamon,” said Nora. “Once we have the right quantity of cinnamon, we’re going to add chocolate chips.”

Elizabeth plated the perfectly browned pancake and held it out toward me. “Finished product!”

The lab technicians, errr, chefs, then sampled the product. “The smell is very vibrant, but you can’t really taste the cinnamon,” Nora concluded.

“So, we’re adding another half teaspoon,” Elizabeth said as she measured cinnamon into the batter.

At another kitchen station, Grace, Anna, Addie, and Eric taste-tested their third variation, “a marbled Nutella pancake,” said Grace.

Their first involved a regular pancake with butter and blueberry sauce the students had also made from scratch. That was followed by a chocolate chip batch, and the Nutella swirl. The next experiment would involve cinnamon and vanilla.

Grinning with pride, Eric spread apart a cooked piece of the marbled batch to reveal an ooey, gooey pocket of molten Nutella. It’s perfect, “thanks to our fryman, here,” said Addie, patting Eric on the head.

They all agreed that the chocolate chip pancakes were the most successful. “It’s just not as complex,” said Anna.

Familiarity also contributed to the chocolate pancakes being a favorite. “We grew up with it!” added Addie.

Addie brought a sample of their cinnamon chocolate pancakes to teacher, Jakky Flanagan.

“Oooooh, I taste the warmth of the cinnamon,” Jakky said, savoring her mouthful, “and the richness of the semi-sweet chocolate pieces.” She held up her arm. “Teacher goosebumps!” she delighted.

In the name of journalistic integrity, Erinn and I also had to experience the fluffy, blueberry, goosebump-inspiring concoctions. Our official lab report: Delicious!