Friday, May 24, 2013

Preschool Cooking: Zucchini Bread

I attended another wonderful training session this week all about cooking with children.  I've been cooking in my classrooms for the entirety of my career as an early childhood teacher, but of course, after meeting with my amazing group of fellow providers and hearing from a master teacher who cooks with her preschoolers weekly, I was feeling inspired.

One of my stellar preschool parents passed along quite a few zucchini from her garden and I looked high and low for a new zucchini bread recipe to replace the one I've been using for years, which always comes out a tad dry in my current oven (which runs hot and cooks unevenly) and doesn't seem to hold up well after a few days in the dry Arizona heat.

I finally settled on this recipe that I found at


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs          
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts


1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Just a few notes about this recipe:

- I would never advocate this much sugar in ANYTHING and I normally would replace the white sugar with honey or maple syrup, but since I'm screen-free during my school day, I had no way of checking the honey to sugar replacement ratio.  It's about 3/4c. honey for every 1c. sugar, and you also have to reduce the liquid ingredients in the recipe by a few tablespoons, in case you were wondering.  Anyway, I cut the sugar down to about 1 1/2c. and it was still more like zucchini cake than bread - so less would have been fine.

- Vegetable oil never goes in anything I bake, I replace with applesauce, banana, melted coconut oil, or a combination of those things, BUT, since it was grocery day, I had none of the above and had to use vegetable oil.

- I never put nuts in breads like this - I usually have at least one nut-free kiddo, so why risk it?

- I used white whole wheat flour from Trader Joe's in place of AP

Ok, now that we've gotten logistics out of the way, let's move on to the kids having a ball doing all the parts of this recipe themselves!!

We gathered our ingredients and started grating zucchini!  I don't have a very child-friendly grater, but I plan to purchase something like this that might work better.

I am fortunate to have two learning towers at my kitchen island, so I can have the kids up with me safely and I can easily reach everything to help.  I've tried cooking in the classroom, but being in the kitchen keeps it relevant for the kids and lends itself to fast cleanup.

Leveling the baking soda.  I've never had the kiddos do this part, so it was a new experience for everyone.  Next time, I'll give him a butter knife so we don't have too many fingers exploring the ingredients.

More leveling - look at that concentration!

Pouring the oil.  We talked about the measuring cup and what all the lines mean and we read the recipe to discover that we needed one cup of oil - which we'll definitely be adjusting next time we make this recipe. 

"I can fill it up to the 1, I will pour it carefully, don't help me!" 

And guess what? He did pour carefully and he did stop exactly at the 1 cup line.

"What does it smell like?"

"Hmmmm.....I wonder....."

"Cinnamon!  I LOOOOOVVVEEEE cinnamon!"

Time to whip out (no pun intended) the old-fashioned egg beater!!  I seriously love this thing.  Not only does it provide an opportunity for real work for the kids, but it makes a strong connection between that work and the changes being made in the bowl. 

"Look, I'm mixing it up!"  "I'm catching the egg yolks!"

I didn't get pictures of the kiddos mixing the wet and dry ingredients, because I was 'bowl-holder' while they stirred with both hands - it was a bit stiff, but loosened up perfectly when we added the zucchini.

And of course, after the bread went into the oven, the children retired to the play kitchen to cook some more!

Cinnamon on your pizza?? Sure!

I heard a lot of cooking terms being thrown around during the play session: sift, measure, fill, sprinkle, pour, etc.

They were so involved, they didn't even notice the 45 minutes it took for our bread to be ready.

And the best part?  We got to eat it!


  1. I bet they had fun! I haven't tried cooking with my toddler yet but I guess I should. It seems that he would enjoy it too.

    Thanks for linking up at Artsy Play Wednesday. Pinned to our group board.

    1. When my son was really little, I'd put him in his high chair with some measuring spoons and some flour and he'd have a blast just getting messy watching me he got older he would stir or chop with a child-sized veggie cutter. He loves cooking, now if I could only get him to eat what he cooks!!


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