Dr Oetker Crazy Colour Changing Icing cake mix

I recently spotted a fun-looking science cupcake mix when I was shopping, and thought we'd give it a go - it's the Dr Oetker Spectacular Science Crazy Colour Changing Icing one, there are some others but we've not (yet!) tried them.  We've previously done a fair few colour changing science activities using natural pigments that are pH-sensitive, but I was curious about a kit where you could get a colour change and it would still taste ok. 

My 5 and 2 year olds were really keen to give it a go, as both are keen on baking and science experiments!  In the box was the cake mix, and sachets of icing mix, alkali mix and acid mix plus cake cases, but you needed butter, egg and milk (plus water).  It also comes with a big fold-out sheet which has some info on the science behind the kit (mostly well explained) and the reverse is the baking instructions.

We followed the instructions accurately for the cake mix, with some counting of cake cases and a bit of multiplication (3 rows of 4 in the bun tin we used).  I was somewhat sceptical that they needed 25 mins to bake as instructed, so we didn't set the oven timer for so long, and we found they were done in 12 mins!  

When it came to the icing, the boys enthusiastically mixed the first sachet with water as instructed, making a purple icing.  I gave them each a separate bowl and the little one had the alkali sachet and the big one had the acid.  They added water as instructed, then when we came to splitting the icing between the bowls, the big one wanted to keep a bit of the original so we could compare the colour, so we deviated a little from the instructions!  Still, they both got a convincing colour change, with a bluey purple alkaline mix and a bright pink acidic one.  The colouring is natural (hibiscus) and it's the same change in anthocyanin colour that you can see with red cabbage when the pH changes.

The kit didn't make very big cupcakes, but for small children that was ideal.  They had fun decorating them, using the three icing colours (I added a little water to the purple so it was a similar consistency to the blue and pink), although the designs on the packet are a bit ambitious and ours didn't turn out particularly pretty (see photo!).  The boys had lots of fun though, and we talked a bit about the colour change, acids and alkalis and my eldest had a look at the information on pH that came in the kit.  

So what did they taste like?  Actually the icing of all colours was pretty edible (I think the large amount of raspberry flavour disguises the bicarbonate of soda in the blue), and the cakes themselves perfectly ok too (two were eaten before being iced...).  

This combined some fun baking with a nice edible colour changing experiment, which would work well for older children too, and I'd definitely recommend it as an easy way to do some fun science at home.