Geeky treats #2: Chemical Cake

by Stephanie Chasteen on December 7, 2010

Don Rathjen also has a wonderful activity called Chemical Cake.  This is a great activity for this time of year since the recipe makes a spice cake (why a spice cake?  You’ll find out….).  He makes the following substitutions in a standard cake recipe:

  • Egg (emulsifier)   –>  soap
  • margarine (lubricant)   –>  vaseline
  • water and baking powder (foaming agent) –> ginger ale

The role of the margarine and foaming agent is to make the body of the cake light and slippery (instead of dry and hard).   Vaseline will work just fine as a lubricant, and the carbon dioxide bubbles in the soda provide gas pockets in the cake like the baking powder would.  The egg acts as an emulsifier, getting the lubricant to mix with the water.  But soap is an excellent emulsifier — that, in fact, is its job — to get water and oil to mix so that it will be removed from our hands.

I had the honor to eat the products of this chemical cake recipe.  Because of the extra spices, covering the flavors, it’s actually not bad.  The texture is just right.

Download the Chemical Cake Article & Revised Recipe and suggested explorations and experiments, a Chemical Corn Bread Lab, with guiding questions, and a Chemical Spice Cake Lab.

Image from Dbenbenn on Wikimedia.  Creative Commons Share Alike.

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