How to make Christmas cake with ingredients from lab supply companies
23 Dec 2019
So, it is the festive period once again and you are trapped in the lab – but fear not, Dr Matthew Partridge has a rather incredible lab-based Christmas plan for you as he shows us…
Christmas is clearly a wonderful time of year.
However, as researchers and people of science we wouldn't let something like an international holiday get in the way of deadlines and the scorn of our supervisors. Which is why so many researchers find themselves in the lab practically every hour of the festive break.
So, for all the researchers stuck to their lab bench this festive period here's a handy recipe for making some traditional Christmas pudding... in the lab.
Ingredients Now while we have tried to come up with a recipe that sticks to things you can readily find in most labs, there are some items you'll probably need to buy. As most health and safety officers tend to not look kindly on researchers bringing shopping bags into the lab, we have sourced all the ingredients from lab supply companies. Simply add these items to your next order and you'll have everything you need and it will be within the COSHH system.
Instructions Step one is to make your ingredients into usable ingredients. The milk and the eggs will need rehydrating with distilled water into their respective pastes. While you're at it, you can also make your baking powder – which is 2:1 bicarb to potassium hydrogen tartrate. Pre-mixing it does help with the spongey consistency of the cake.
The next step is that you need to mix everything together. Most labs don't have handy mixing bowls so you might need to get creative. Suggested bowl-like containers include: poly styrene packing boxes (surprisingly water proof), the lab sink or at a push the backpack of the youngest researcher.
The amount of ingredients is up to you, but a general rule of thumb is that you need around about 8g of baking power?per 100g of flour, equal amounts of flour to sugar to milk, half as much egg as milk, about twice more fruits than flour, as much fat as you have egg and around 150% as much cinnamon as baking powder. Which I think is perfectly clear.
Once mixed you then need something to cook your pudding in. For this you'll need to create a water bath. For most people this should be easy as water baths are one of the most common set ups in any lab. All you need is a hot plate, a large container of water and then a smaller container to put in the water in which we'll cook the pudding. Personally, I find a 250 ml Pyrex beaker is great for the pudding and then a 1L beaker works well as a water bath.
You'll need to then cook the pudding in the water bath with the water boiling for somewhere between 1 and 10 hours depending on how big you made it. You want the core of the pudding to be around 72°C. You can measure it with a handy thermocouple if you want to check progress.
Once cooked remove from the water bath and allow the pudding to cool for a few minutes before gently levering it out with a spatula onto to a lab notebook. While still hot you can optimally pour on some reagent grade Ethanol and set it on fire for that extra festive moment.
Once you've finished being all Christmassy,?select the cleanest spatula (wipe on your lab coat if needed) you can find, take a big scoop of your delicious looking pudding and then finally, and I can’t stress this enough, on no account eat it.
Not even the smallest bit, it's 100% going to kill you.