Written by Kara Fleck, Simple Kids editor and Rockin’ Granola mama.
Last week I mentioned that our simple weekly rhythm includes a cooking and baking day. Cooking together can happen at any time during the week, of course, but once a week I am intentional about it and set aside time specifically to bake with the children.
Our baking day is on Monday. It is a pleasant way to start the week together and it gives us quality time in the kitchen (plus, there’s something yummy to enjoy for our labors).
Bread baking is one of our favorite things, but it isn’t a process you can speed through. I think this makes baking bread a good tool for teaching patience.
I’ve discovered a few tips that help teach kids patience when baking and make it fun and creative for them, almost like acting out a story. Who doesn’t love a little playtime in the kitchen?
So, let’s wash our hands, put on our aprons, and bake some bread together!
Simple steps for baking bread together.
You can use your own favorite bread recipe as any yeast bread recipe that requires some kneading and rising time will do for this method. I like to keep things fairly simple here, as I don’t like for things to be too complicated when I’m joined by little hands in the kitchen.
Very Easy Bread Recipe
(adapted from The Waldorf Kindergarten Snack Book)
- 2 C very warm water
- large spoonful of honey we used molasses this week
- 1 T. yeast
- flour until you can’t mix in any more (approx. 4 C)
- pinch or two of salt
1. Make a snack for the Yeast
We call the first stage of the recipe “making a snack for the yeast” – where you are mixing the warm water in a large mixing bowl and then stirring in the molasses or honey. Yeast are very hungry, so we make them a “soup” to eat.
2. Feed the Yeast
Now it is time to feed the yeast by sprinkling it over the top of the “soup.” Let it foam up and watching your children be amazed at those hungry yeast!
3. Let it snow
Taking turns, with very clean hands, start adding the flour by making it “snow” into the bowl. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt, too. Keep adding flour “snow” – taking breaks to knead it into the dough – until the dough is stiff and no longer sticky.
Singing your favorite Christmas carols about snow is optional (but hard to resist, even in August).
Yes, this part will make a mess, but messy is okay. Flour is easy to clean up with a wet sponge or bar towel and then you’re right back in business, as if it never happened. So, listen, as long as no one is blatantly flinging flour across the room or anything, take a deep breath and just accept that this part of baking is a little messy and you’re okay with that. Have some fun!
4. Taking a nap
Whew! Our dough is tired. It is time for the dough is going to take a little “nap” under a “blanket” (i.e. get covered loosely with a towel and set in a warm spot to double in size for an hour or two).
While we let the dough “rest” for a little while why don’t we read some stories together?
May I may a few suggestions?
- Tony’s Bread by Tomie DePaola
- Loaves of Fun by Elizabeth M. Harbison
- Bread, Bread, Bread (Around the World)
5. Make shapes
Peek under the blanket. Has your dough doubled in size? Okay, you’re ready to knead it for a bit and then shape it into either a loaf, buns, or shaped breads. At our house we’ve been studying the alphabet, so some of the dough from this week’s bread was formed in the shape of a letter A.
Preheat the oven to 350.
Give each child a portion of the dough, and you take some too, and form it into your shape for baking and place them on an oiled baking sheet.
7. Another rest
Your dough is probably tired from all of that shaping, so he needs a brief rest under his blanket again (another 20 minutes or so, or while the oven preheats) before baking.
It isn’t easy to be patient, is it? Maybe we should read some more stories or color a picture together.
At last, it is time to bake our bread. Into the 350 degree oven it goes for about 20 minutes, until light brown. Keep an eye on this, moms and dads, because smaller shaped breads and rolls will need less baking time.
Let your bread cool a bit on a rack and then slice it with a serrated bread knife and enjoy it with honey and butter.
Some of our bread from this week was toasted and then topped with ricotta cheese, sliced yellow tomatoes, and salt & pepper for an easy lunch.
Baking bread together is a nice way to spend time together. It also shows children that slow long-term projects that don’t have immediate gratification are worth it, and helps build up children’s skills at being patient.
I love that baking bread is one of those tasks that produces real results the family can enjoy. I love to see my kids proud of what they have made, don’t you?
Ready for more kitchen fun? Here are a few more ideas:
- Check out the The Magic School Bus Kitchen Chemistry episode (the complete series is now available on DVD).
- Pick up a copy of the Action Pack Cooking issue.
- Add this Whole Wheat Soda Bread to your baking repertoire
What will you and your kids be cooking up together?