Esl Activity: Bake A ‘quatre-quarts’ (breton Pound Cake) 

This month, give baking a go with an ESL Activity: Bake a cake!
This is an activity that, with a parent’s permission, presents endless opportunities to teach English. 

A Breton pound cake, also known as “Quatre-Quarts” (French for “four quarters”), is a traditional French cake originating from Brittany, a region in the northwest of France.

The name “Quatre-Quarts” refers to the four main ingredients used in equal proportions: flour, butter, eggs, and sugar. This simple ratio gives the cake its dense and moist texture, similar to a pound cake. It’s often flavoured with vanilla or other extracts, and sometimes lemon zest is added for extra flavour.

ESL activity- Bake a cake!

Esl Activity: Bake A Cake 

Breton pound cake is typically enjoyed as a dessert or snack, served plain or sometimes with a dusting of powdered sugar. It’s a classic treat that’s beloved for its simplicity and delicious taste.

Baking can be a fantastic way to teach kids English for several reasons:

Hands-on Learning: Baking involves following recipes, which requires reading and understanding instructions. This hands-on approach helps reinforce vocabulary related to cooking and baking, such as ingredients, measurements, utensils, and cooking techniques.

Contextual Learning: Baking provides a real-world context for language learning. Kids can see and experience the practical application of English words and phrases in a meaningful way, which can enhance comprehension and retention.

Multisensory Experience: Baking engages multiple senses, including sight, smell, touch, and taste. By involving these senses, kids can better absorb and remember new vocabulary and concepts.

Teamwork and Communication: Baking often involves collaboration and communication, especially when working with others in the kitchen. Kids can practise giving and following instructions, asking questions, and communicating their ideas and preferences.

Cultural Exploration: Baking recipes can offer insights into different cultures and traditions. Exploring recipes from around the world can expose kids to new ingredients, flavours, and culinary customs while learning about the language and culture associated with each dish.

Creativity and Problem-Solving: Baking encourages creativity as kids can experiment with different ingredients and variations of recipes. They also learn problem-solving skills when they encounter challenges or make mistakes while baking and need to find solutions.

Vocabulary Expansion: Baking exposes kids to a wide range of vocabulary, including nouns (ingredients, utensils), verbs (mix, bake, whisk), adjectives (sweet, fluffy, golden), and adverbs (gently, slowly). This exposure helps expand their English vocabulary in a practical and enjoyable way.

Here’s A Simple Recipe For Breton Pound Cake

Ingredients:

– 250g all-purpose flour

– 250g butter, softened

– 250g granulated sugar

– 4 large eggs

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

– Pinch of salt

Other recipes will call for 3 eggs, and 140g of the other ingredients. It depends on the size of the cake you want to make. Here is another great recipe, in English too! 

Instructions – Esl Activity: Bake A Cake

1. Preheat your oven to 175°C. Grease and flour a loaf pan or line it with parchment paper for easy removal.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy using a hand mixer or stand mixer.

3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. If using vanilla extract, add it now and mix until combined.

4. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl with the butter mixture. Using a spatula or mixer on low speed, gently fold the flour into the batter until just combined. Be careful not to overmix, as this can make the cake dense.

5. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and use a spatula to smooth the top.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.

7. Once baked, take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Then, carefully transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Once cooled, slice and serve the Breton Pound Cake plain or with your favourite toppings or accompaniments, such as fresh berries, whipped cream, or powdered sugar.

Enjoy your delicious Breton Pound Cake!

Household and everyday activities are the perfect opportunity to introduce topic-specific vocabulary that the children might not hear in English classes at school. Here is some vocabulary you can teach whilst you bake together: 

1. Flour

2. Butter

3. Sugar

4. Eggs

5. Vanilla extract

6. Weighing scale 

7. Egg white

8. Salt

9. Mixing bowl

10. Spatula

11. Whisk

12. Mixer

13. Oven

14. Shell  

15. Parchment paper

16. Grease

17. Preheat

18. Temperature

19. Timer

20. Recipe

21. Ingredient

22. Measurement

23. Texture

24. Consistency

25. Crust 

26. Cooling rack

27. Dusting

28. Frosting 

29. Icing 

30. Decorate 

These words should come in handy while discussing or following a recipe for Breton Pound Cake or any other baking endeavour!

As for the topping of your cake, consider seasonal fruits (https://www.fruitsinfo.com/france-fruits-by-month.php). In France, May and June mark the beginning of summer, and during this time, a variety of fruits come into season. Some fruits that are typically in season in France during May and June include:

1. Strawberries (les fraises)

2. Cherries (les cerises)

3. Apricots (les abricots)

4. Peaches (les pêches)

5. Raspberries (les framboises)

6. Blackberries (les mûres)

7. Blueberries (les myrtilles)

8. Rhubarb (la rhubarbe)

These fruits are often used in various desserts, jams, and pastries during the spring and summer months in France. 

Another idea… if the kids you are working with do not take to the idea of a ‘quatre-quarts’, try traditional crepes! This is an opportunity for the children to share their culture and food with you, whilst you introduce them to all the English translations of the words they know so well. Find our crepe recipe here (https://job-in-france.babylangues.com/french-cuisine/crepes/), if this sounds like the better option. 

Baking, of course, requires you to be aware of the child/children’s safety. Ensuring that a baking activity is safe for kids while still allowing them to participate requires a bit of planning and constant supervision. Here are some tips to make baking activities safe and enjoyable:

Supervise closely: Always supervise children closely during baking activities, especially when they are handling equipment or working near hot ovens. Provide guidance and assistance as needed to ensure their safety.

Teach kitchen safety: Take the time to teach children basic kitchen safety rules, such as washing hands before and after handling food, using oven mitts to handle hot dishes, and avoiding touching hot surfaces.

Use child-friendly equipment: Provide child-sized utensils and tools that are easy for kids to handle safely. Avoid using sharp knives or other dangerous equipment that could pose a risk to children.

Prevent cross-contamination: Teach children about the importance of food safety and hygiene. Encourage them to wash their hands and surfaces thoroughly, and avoid cross-contamination by using separate utensils for raw eggs and other ingredients.

Set up a safe workspace: Create a safe and organised workspace for baking activities. Clear away clutter, remove any potential hazards, and ensure that countertops are at a comfortable height for the children to work at.

Be prepared for emergencies: Have a first aid kit on hand in case of minor injuries, and know how to respond in the event of more serious accidents. Make sure you are aware of emergency contact information.

Enjoy baking together! Send in your baked creations to our instagram (https://www.instagram.com/babylangues/) so we can share them!

ESL Activity: Bake a cake