Nutritious Cupcake Wars Competition

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  • Lesson Identification and TEKS Addressed

    Cluster : Human Services

    Course : Lifetime Nutrition and Wellness

  • TEKS Student Expectations

    • (1) The student understands the role of nutrients in the body. The student is expected to:
      • (A) classify nutrients, their functions, and food sources and compare the nutritive value of various foods
    • (3) The student demonstrates knowledge of nutritionally balanced diets. The student is expected to:
      • (I) examine the nutritional value of fast foods and convenience foods
      • (J) read and interpret food labels
      • (K) examine and explain nutritional serving sizes
    • (4) The student understands safety and sanitation. The student is expected to:
      • (A) demonstrate safe and sanitary practices in the use, care, and storage of food and equipment
      • (C) practice appropriate dress and personal hygiene in food preparation
    • (5) The student demonstrate knowledge of food management principles. The student is expected to:
      • (A) read and comprehend standard recipes
      • (B) correctly use standard measuring techniques and equipment
      • (C) demonstrate correct food preparation techniques, including nutrient retention
      • (D) use food buying strategies such as calculating food costs, planning food budgets, and creating grocery lists
      • (E) demonstrate food preparation techniques to reduce overall fat and calories
      • (F) practice etiquette, food presentation, and table service appropriate for specific situations
      • (G) apply food storage principles
    • (6) The student demonstrates effective work habits. The student is expected to:
      • (A) participate as an effective team member demonstrating cooperation and responsibility
      • (B) apply effective practices for managing time and energy to complete tasks on time
      • (C) practice problem solving using leadership and teamwork skills
  • Basic Direct Teach Lesson

    Instructional Objectives

    • plan, prepare, and present healthier cupcakes (or other food item) for classroom competition
    • work as a team member to create a flavorful product
    • create a themed display using imagination and creativity
    • determine recipe cost and nutritional analysis of food items
  • Rationale

    Is anyone interested in participating in a healthy version of Cupcake Wars? This lesson is going to provide you with numerous opportunities to learn about and utilize nutritional information and food preparation techniques. These skills will assist you in leading a healthier lifestyle. It is extremely important that everyone listen closely to all instructions, work as a team and meet the challenge! Let’s get started!

    Teacher Note: This lesson can be modified for other classroom competitions following the Choose My Plate guidelines previous studied such as:

    • Dairy Options
    • Fruit Cornucopia
    • Healthy Grains
    • Meatless Meals
    • Nutritious Breakfast Ideas
    • Protein Selections
    • Salad Wars
    • Vegetarian Meals

    Included lesson attachments can be modified as needed.

    Note: This competition is not to be confused with the HEAT (Hospitality Educator’s Association of Texas) contest but may be used as a practice for the larger event.
    (revised 6/11/2012)

  • Duration of Lesson

    Six 45 minute class periods

  • Word Wall

    Competition: A test of skill or ability; a contest

    Creative: Marked by the ability to create; inventive; imaginative; artistic

    Cupcakes: A small cake baked in a cup-shaped container and typically iced

    Cupcake liners: Paper baking liners used to bake cupcakes in. Also called muffin liners, baking cups, cupcake cups and cupcake wrappers.

    Display: Make a prominent exhibition of (something) in a place where it can be easily seen

    Icing: A mixture of sugar with liquid or butter, typically flavored and colored, and used as a coating for cakes or cookies

    Imagination: The power of forming mental images of unreal or absent objects; such power used creatively; resourcefulness

    Nutrition: The study of nutrients and how the body uses them

    Presentation: A formal introduction of one person to another; to present something as an exhibition, show, or product

    Substitution: The act of replacing one item for another

    Teamwork: The process of working collaboratively with a group of people in order to achieve a goal

    Time Management: Refers to a range of skills, tools, and techniques used to manage time when accomplishing specific tasks, projects and goals

    If lesson is modified, change terms and definitions accordingly.

  • Materials/Specialized Equipment Needed


    • computer with projector for multimedia presentation
    • computer lab with internet for recipe research
    • display tables


    • assortment of decorations for theme
    • cake decorating supplies (bags, tips, gel colors)
    • ingredients for one recipe of cupcakes and icing
    • kitchen utensils and equipment
    • markers (anticipatory set)
    • plastic or Styrofoam containers for cupcakes
    • poster board/butcher paper (anticipatory set)
    • tape (anticipatory set)


    • calculators
    • copies of grocery receipts
    • copies of handouts (see All Lesson Attachments tab)
  • Anticipatory Set

    In order for this lesson to be successful, the following will need to be addressed:

    • Permission from administration
    • Specific date(s) for competition
    • Theme for display presentation
    • Specific rules particular to your local school/district
    • Teachers, administrators, directors, professional chefs, student chefs, instructors at local culinary arts school, local business owners, and community leaders can be invited to attend and participate as judges.

    Think of other ways that this lesson can promote your program and allow the community to see the outstanding work your students do.

    Before class begins:

    View Food Network’s CupCake Wars videos to familiarize yourself with competition

    Bake and decorate enough nutritious cupcakes for your entire class.
    Gather posterboard/butcher paper, markers and tape for student scribe.
    Arrange pictures of cupcakes, actual decorated cupcakes, kitchen utensils pertaining to cupcakes, and any cupcake themed displays available in the front of the room.
    As students enter the classroom, they will be able to see the display.

    When class begins, ask students the following questions:

    • Has anyone seen the Food Network’s series Cupcake Wars ? Have a student that has viewed the series explain the show’s concept to students who have not seen it.
    • Why do you think cupcakes are so popular right now?
    • What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Icing flavor?
    • Is it possible to make a healthy, nutritious cupcake?
    • How would you feel about participating in a classroom Cupcake War Competition?

    Allow each student to select a cupcake from the display. Designate a student scribe and provide them with a poster board/butcher paper, makers and tape. Students may eat their cupcake as they brainstorm possible steps in preparing for the cupcake challenge. Student scribe will post notes on classroom wall for further discussion. Allow time for cleanup.

  • Direct Instruction with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Events in this lesson are expected to be modified to accommodate campus/district guidelines and classroom instruction.
    Introduce objectives, terms, and definitions.

    Introduce slide presentation Nutritious Cupcake Wars Competition PowerPoint™ (see All Lesson Attachments tab).
    View a segment of the show following the link on the slide presentation.
    Other shows may also be viewed if time permits.

    Refer back to notes taken by student scribe during Anticipatory Set. Discuss and determine the date of competition, rules, judging, etc.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • check for understanding
    • repeated review

  • Guided Practice with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Distribute Nutritious Cupcake Wars Competition Plan handout (see All Lesson Attachments tab).
    Students may choose their own team members in subgroups of 4 or 5 depending on class size. They should work together as a team and encourage positive attitudes and work habits.

    Notify the class of the “secret ingredient” to be used in their cupcakes and icing. All groups in the class will use the same secret ingredient but each class may have a different choice. This is part of the challenge.

    Allow students to research recipes on the internet or cookbooks that can be mixed, baked, and cooled in one class period. All recipes should be pre-approved by you for available ingredients.
    Distribute handout Substitutions for Healthier Cooking and Baking so students may be able to alter their recipes for a more nutritious version. Encourage them to investigate other alternatives as well.

    Once students have chosen a recipe, distribute Recipe Cost Analysis handout (see All Lesson Attachments tab) and copies of grocery receipts from previous labs. Students should calculate the cost of each ingredient used in their recipe as well as cost per serving. Follow example on slide presentation.

    Distribute Recipe Nutritional Analysis and Standards of Measurement handouts (see All Lesson Attachments tab). Allow students to use the Nutrition Facts from the ingredients they will use in their recipe to complete form. Follow example on slide presentation. Students may also use a software program if your school has one available.

    Review Rubric for Nutritious Cupcake Wars Competition (see All Lesson Attachments tab) so students will be aware of what judges will be looking for.
    Brainstorm with your students as to what the prize(s) will be for the competition winners.


    • certificate for the winners, certificates of participation (computer generated)
    • winners names announced over school intercom
    • bonus points on a quiz or test
    • winners names and pictures displayed on bulletin board in hallway or submitted to district’s communication department for acknowledgement on district website
    • Anything that will bring recognition to your students and class and will promote enrollment in your courses

    Additional ideas: Have students brainstorm team logos that can be used for the competition. Student teams may purchase and decorate matching team T-shirts. Check with a local t-shirt vendor and ask for the cost of a basic t-shirt (white is usually the cheapest) and how much an iron transfer would cost. If your school permits, the event may be allowed as a fundraiser and a minimal fee charged for a limited number of audience members. Include the name of your school and class to promote your program. Students from your other classes may participate by assisting you in video recording the event (video or pictures), setting the judges table, folding napkins, or washing dishes, etc. This can become a campus event.

    Allowing students to assist you with ideas will help them be creative and become skilled in making decisions.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • peer tutoring
    • computer-aided instruction

  • Independent Practice/Laboratory Experience with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Allow time for mixing, baking, and icing cupcakes before date of event.
    Remind students of food safety rules learned in previous lessons.

    Recipes chosen should make 24 cupcakes. Recipe selected by students may need to be modified (increased or decreased) in order to yield 24 cupcakes. Each student will be allowed to take two cupcakes, each judge will be served two cupcakes, and any remaining cupcakes may be distributed to counselors (who assist in registration), custodians (who keep your room clean), colleagues (who assist you with daily routines), and administrators (who evaluate you).

    Only one team can win and will be awarded the prizes decided before the competition.

    Note: Due to time constraints, do not store cupcakes in the refrigerator as they will dry out. Cupcakes may be frozen (with icing to lock in moisture) in a sealed container to retain their moisture. Be sure to remove them from freezer two to three hours before serving.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • shortened, simplified instructions
    • step by step instructions

  • Lesson Closure

    Review objectives, terms, and definitions.

    Team members will compare the cost analysis and nutritional analysis of their cupcakes to evaluate which team has the following:

    • the most expensive cupcake
    • the least expensive cupcake
    • the most nutritional cupcake
    • the cupcake with the highest calories

    Remind students that lab should be left clean and in order for the next class. They should review lessons previously learned in the proper cleaning and maintenance of commercial equipment they used.

  • Summative/End of Lesson Assessment with Special Education Modifications/Accommodations

    Distribute a copy of the rubric to each judge for each group in the competition. Review the rubric with the judges so they will understand the criteria.

    Students will present TWO cupcakes to each judge and may inform them of any special procedures, techniques, and skills they used in making their cupcakes. This can also include the Recipe Cost Analysis and Recipe Nutritional Analysis (see All Lesson Attachments tab) to inform the judges of the value of their cupcakes. Presentation of cupcakes may include special dishes, glasses, or paper products.
    Students will then be assessed with rubric scored by judges. Prizes will be awarded to winning teams.

    All students will write a one page reflection on what they personally learned during this lesson. Encourage students to focus on the culinary, leadership and team building skills they learned/utilized and how this experience will assist them in the future.

    Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for all special education students must be followed. Examples of accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

    • check for understanding
    • extra time for oral response
    • frequent feedback

  • References/Resources


    • (2010). Food for Today. Colombus, Ohio: McGraw Hill Glenco.


    • Food Network
      It’s cupcake vs. cupcake in Food Network’s tastiest competition yet! Each week on Cupcake Wars, four of the country’s top cupcake bakers face off in three elimination challenges until only one decorator remains.
  • Additional Required Components

    English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Strategies

    • allow extra processing time
    • visual supports
    • word wall
  • College and Career Readiness Connection

    AchieveTexas Career Cluster Crosswalks

    The Career Cluster Crosswalks housed on the AchieveTexas website provide Texas teachers with a direct connection between their CTE course TEKS and the College and Career Readiness Standards (CCRS). Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and Cross-Disciplinary integration are the focus of the CCRS. These college and career readiness standards are essential in the planning and delivery of CTE lessons. The extent to which the integration occurs is determined by the methods and strategies utilized by each teacher.

    Career Cluster Crosswalks for Education and Training, Hospitality and Tourism, and Human Services Career Clusters can be found at:

  • Recommended Strategies

    Reading Strategies

    Students may read blogs about cupcakes to gather ideas and compare and contrast the different cupcakes websites.

    Encourage students to “visualize” as they read. Many students are visual learners and will benefit from making sketches or diagrams on scratch paper as they read. Providing students with graphic organizers to help them organize their thoughts is also helpful.

  • Quotes

    Any time you eat anything other than fruits and vegetables, you’re eating food for some other reason than nutrition – you’re eating it for entertainment, for social value, to numb yourself or because you’re addicted to it.
    - Dr. Doug Graham

    Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food.

    The human body heals itself and nutrition provides the resources to accomplish the task.
    -Roger Williams Ph.D. (1971)

    In fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts are all the vitamins and minerals and high grade proteins the human body needs to bring it to a state of physical perfection and to MAINTAIN it in that state indefinitely.
    -Dr. Herbert Shelton, M.D. Superior Nutrition

  • Multimedia/Visual Strategies


    • Nutritious Cupcake Wars Competition
    • Presentation Notes – Nutritious Cupcake Wars Competition

    Files for downloading:

  • Graphic Organizers/Handout

    Graphic Organizer:

    • Nutritious Cupcake Wars Competition Plan


    • Recipe Cost Analysis
    • Recipe Nutritional Analysis
    • Rubric for Classroom Competition
    • Rubric for Nutritious Cupcake Wars Competition
    • Standards of Measurement
    • Substitutions for Healthier Cooking and Baking

    Files for downloading:

  • Writing Strategies

    Journal Entries:

    • My favorite cupcake is …..
    • I would make my cupcake unique by …..
    • Cake vs. cupcake (compare and contrast)

    Writing Strategies:

    • RAFT writing strategy
      • Role – student
      • Audience – school dietitian
      • Format – letter
      • Topic – seeking nutrition information for healthier foods
  • Communication 90 Second Speech Topics

    • If I owned a cupcake shop, I would ……
    • The steps to making a healthy red velvet cupcake are …..
  • Other Essential Lesson Components

    Enrichment activity

    Students can research various cupcake recipes to make healthier versions, vegan cupcakes, or cupcakes for people with allergies. Creating new recipes and keeping up with current trends will inspire challenges and imagination.
    This competition can also be used as an end of course project.

    Math Assessment Question

    (4) The student understands safety and sanitation. The student is expected to:

    • (A) demonstrate safe and sanitary practices in the use, care, and storage of food and equipment;
      (5) The student demonstrates knowledge of food management principles. The student is expected to:
    • (C) demonstrate correct food preparation techniques, including nutrient retentions;
    • (G) apply food storage principles.

    Question 6. Tina has a twelve-pound frozen turkey. Directions say to defrost the turkey at no more than 43°F for 2.5 hours per pound. After defrosting, Tina cooks the turkey for 30 minutes per pound at 325°F. How much time total does it take to get the turkey from frozen to cooked?
    a. 30 hours
    b. 36 hours
    c. 42 hours
    d. 48 hours

  • Family/Community Connection

    Invite member of the community to observe and judge the competition, for example, pastry chefs from local bakeries or restaurants, restaurant managers, and local culinary school instructors.
    The event can be held as part of a Parent Night or PTSO/PTSA meeting.

  • CTSO connection

    Family, Career and Community Leaders of America

    • Food Innovations – An individual or team event – recognizes participants who demonstrate knowledge of the basic concepts of food product development by creating an original prototype formula, testing the product through focus groups, and developing a marketing strategy.
  • Service Learning Projects

    Successful service learning project ideas originate from student concerns and needs. Allow students to brainstorm about service projects pertaining to lesson. For additional information on service learning see


    Students may wish to research a charity they are interested in and sell their remaining cupcakes to raise funds for the charity (be sure to follow school policy on baked goods).

    Students may use this event to raise funds and awareness for a selected cause.

  • All Attachments