Suggested Ages: 10+  

Baking doesn’t have to mean blindly following a recipe. In fact, there are plenty of ways to get creative in the kitchen—like our Courageous Muffins. In this Design-it-Yourself challenge, you’ll start with a simple base recipe, experimenting with flavors and toppings to make a totally unique, totally tasty treat!

The Design-It-Yourself Challenge

Bake up a batch of mouthwatering muffins made with at least two ingredients you don’t know very well (or haven’t even tried before!).

This is no ordinary DIY project for kids: It’s a step toward becoming an innovator

Every Galileo Design-It-Yourself challenge teaches the same techniques that professional designers, engineers, artists and chefs use in their work. With skills like these, we believe you can change the world.

All innovators need these→ keep an eye out!

  • Knowledge

    KNOWLEDGE: Facts, skills or context to inform your project

  • Mindset

    MINDSET: The right frame of mind to innovate

  • Process

    PROCESS: Steps to guide you along the path to your goal

How to Get Ready: Choose Your Courageous Ingredients

Take a look at our list of “Courageous Ingredients” in the “What You Need” section below. For each category (Flour, Cheese, Spices, Herbs & Zest, Vanilla, Add-Ins, Crumb Topping Flavors), use the guidelines to decide which ingredient or ingredients to include in your muffins.

Be courageous in your choices: Skip over any flavors you’ve already tried in a muffin or are sure would be delicious. Instead, challenge yourself to choose at least two ingredients that are unfamiliar to you or that you’re not sure how they’d work in a muffin. Bonus courage points for using more than two unfamiliar ingredients!

What You Need (yields 8 – 10 muffins)


Basic Ingredients

  • DIY Courageous Muffins - ingredients 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup white flour

Courageous Ingredients (choose between 2 and 5 of these total)*

Flour (choose 1)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats + 3/4 cup wheat or white flour

Cheese (decide yes or no)

  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese

Spices (choose 0 – 2)

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Herbs & Zest (choose 0 – 2)

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped

Vanilla (decide yes or no)

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add-Ins (choose 1 – 2, must add up to 1/2 cup total)

  • Apples, fresh or dried, finely chopped
  • Blueberries, fresh, frozen or dried
  • Carrots, shredded
  • Cherries, fresh, frozen or dried, finely chopped
  • Chocolate chips
  • Coconut, shredded
  • Dried cranberries, finely chopped
  • Mango, fresh, frozen or dried, finely chopped
  • Peaches, fresh, frozen or dried, finely chopped
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries, frozen or dried
  • Zucchini, shredded

Crumb Topping Flavors (choose 0 – 1)

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon shredded coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 tablespoons oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

* See the “How to Get Ready” section, above.


Mindset Challenge

Anyone can make a traditional blueberry or chocolate chip muffin. But if you can be courageous by stepping outside your comfort zone to try something totally new, who knows what you might discover? Even if mango or cardamom doesn’t become your favorite ingredient, it could inspire other creations or lead to a future of fun cooking and eating.

DIY muffin batter on tray

How to Make Your Muffin Batter

Step 1.

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Step 2.

Put 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of softened butter into a large mixing bowl and beat at low speed until creamy and whipped. (If your butter isn’t soft, use a butter knife to cut it into small pieces before beating.)

Step 3.

Measure 1/2 cup sugar. Add to mixing bowl with butter. Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Step 4.

Add 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup milk, 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

Step 5.

If you’re using cheese, spices, herbs and zest and/or vanilla, add those ingredients, in the quantities specified, to your mixing bowl and beat to combine.

Step 6.

Add your flour (1 cup white, 1 cup wheat or 1/2 cup oats + 3/4 cup flour). Use a spatula or spoon to mix it in until fully combined. Do not over-mix.


Knowledge Alert

When you over-mix dough, you risk incorporating too much air, causing your baked goods to fall, or overworking your gluten, making your finished product tough and gummy. With muffins, you want to mix gently for a tender taste—stir until the flour has just disappeared (don’t worry about leaving a few lumps!).

Step 7.

Mix in 1/2 cup of add-ins (see “Add-Ins” in the ingredients list), using a spatula or spoon to gently fold them into your batter. Again, be careful not to over-mix.

Step 8.

Use a spoon to distribute the batter among your muffin cups. Fill each one about 3/4 of the way full. Recipe should make 8 – 10 muffins.

DIY berry muffin with crumb topping

How to Make Your Crumb Topping

Step 1.

Use a spoon to sprinkle crumb mixture on top of your unbaked muffins, using it all up and distributing it evenly (about 1 tablespoon per muffin).

Step 2.

Put your muffin pan into the oven.

Step 3.

After 12 minutes, rotate your tray or pan for even baking.

Step 4.

After 25 minutes, poke a toothpick into the center of each muffin to check them for doneness. When your muffins are done, place the cups on your cooling rack.


Knowledge Alert

To make sure a muffin (or cake) is perfectly baked, poke a toothpick into the center—if there are crumbs or batter on the pick, your muffins need more time in the oven. When they’re fully baked, the toothpick will come out clean and the muffins will feel springy to the touch of your finger. Still not sure if they’re done? Try taking their temperature.

Innovate On!

  • If you were to make these muffins again, what would you do the same? What would you change? What other courageous ingredients might you try?
  • Help someone else be courageous! Ask a friend or family member to choose muffin ingredients that are courageous for them. Then bake them a custom recipe of courageous muffins. Ask them what they think. Did they find something new to love?
  • Can you think of other ingredients (not on our list) to try in a muffin? Use our base recipe as a guide and design something new.
  • How might you incorporate the courageous ingredients you tried in your muffins into other cooking projects?

Hungry for more? Check out other Galileo DIY projects for kids.

Galileo Learning ignites the innovator in every kid through summer camps in Northern California, Southern California and Chicago.