Friday, February 2, 2018

On Friday's We Bake: Bread

Ah bread. Apart from the wonderful aroma and cozy hygge feeling it instills in many of us; baking bread is also an incredible learning opportunity for kids. There's the obvious sensory, math, reading, and science... but there's also the whole culture of bread making, its history, and different recipes.

Baking bread takes time, but this recipe is perfect for a lazy pajama or snow day.

- 3 cups of AP flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 packet, or about 2 teaspoons yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar or brown sugar or honey
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup warm water (not hot, just warm)

1. Using your kitchen aid mixer or a big bowl and wooden spoon,  measure the flour into the bowl.  Make sure your flour measurements are level with the top of the measuring cup. Don’t pack the flour down into the cup. Just scoop it in lightly, and have your child even off the top of it with their finger by brushing off the excess. Next, add the salt, sugar and yeast. Stir the yeast, salt, sugar and flour all together.

2. Now measure in your oil. Add a cup of warm water. If the water is too hot and it will kill the yeast. Stir the dough with your spoon or dough hook attachment to your electric mixer until it gets sticky and stiff.

3. Next, dig into the dough with clean hands. It will be gooey, and warm... your kids will love this! Work the dough, right there in the bowl. Scrape the dough off of your fingers as needed and try to get the dough together into a ball. If it is too sticky, then add more flour. If it is too dry, then add a little of water at a time, to get it right. Keep mixing and mashing until you get a ball of dough, turn the dough out onto your counter or kitchen table. Scatter a bit of flour about the dough, and around the counter. Knead the dough. Press it, fold it, stretch it, turn it. Keep kneading the dough for a full 5 minutes.

I usually tear off a smaller piece for the kids to knead.

4. Pour a tablespoon of oil into an empty clean bowl. Place the ball of dough into the clean bowl, on top of the oil. Roll the dough around in the oil, to coat it evenly. Place the dough in a warm spot, or on the counter near the stove. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow the dough to sit and rise. You'll want it to double in size, this may take up to 2 hours. Sometimes this happens in as quickly as an hour, but usually it takes longer, especially if the kitchen is cold.

5. When it is well risen, have your child put their fist into the dough and smash down to force all the air out of it. Knead the dough again. This time, just knead it for a minute or so. Long enough to get all the air out of it.

6. Oil a large loaf pan. If you don’t have a loaf pan, then use a casserole pan, or a round cake pan. Coax the dough into the shape of the pan you are going to bake it in. Cover it with a dish towel or plastic wrap again. Set it aside and let it rise for about an hour to an hour and a half. It should double in size again.

7. After it has risen enough, it is time to bake it. Set the oven to 350°. Place the bread into the oven. You do not need to preheat the oven. Let the bread bake for 30 to 40 minutes. When it is done the top will be golden brown. Carefully turn the hot bread out of the pan and onto a dishtowel on the counter. Be careful not to burn yourself. Flick the bottom with your finger. If it sounds hollow then it is done. If it doesn’t sound hollow, then put it back into the pan and bake it some more.

8. Allow the bread to cool down for a few minutes before slicing it. When you slice it, use a serrated knife and saw back and forth across the bread like you are sawing a log.

If by some miracle you don't eat all of this fresh out of the oven with a little bit of butter or jam... this bread makes amazing grilled cheese sandwiches and French toast.


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