Yes, that is a bit crazy, to try to make bread in a large group, but with a bunch of involved moms and some interested children, it made for some interesting times! And why not encourage families to try to cook together more? And make their own bread! We love our homemade bread.
The recipe came from the cookbook Kids in the Kitchen: Simple Recipes That Build Independence and Confidence the Montessori Way by Sara E Cotner and Kyle D’Alton. It was a birthday gift from my mom, who may have felt I was a little crazy at the time, but I think appreciated the crazy. One of the recipes is for what they called Basic Bread, but I called Honey Wheat bread. The science behind it was really about how the yeast activated in the honey and sugar – which I tried to point out at the time, but sometimes was a bit wrapped up in the actually preparation of the bread to point it out to all the children.
I halved the recipe, because it just seemed easier that way. This recipe book is fantastic because it really gives picture directions that the children can follow as they make the recipes. I didn’t think I’d have the luxury of that, so I created little instruction sheets for the moms to follow, while I continued to give guidance along the way.
I set it up with 2 cups of flour and 3/4 tsp salt mixed together in the big red bowl. I had the mason jar with 2 tsp of honey and a little cup with 3/4 tsp of yeast. They started but dumping the yeast into the honey jar, then I helped them with 7oz of warm water (this was the tricky part, keeping the water warm enough to activate the yeast, and this was the downfall in bread that didn’t rise well) so they could add that to the jar and stir.
Once they had the yeast working, I showed them how to make a well in the center of the flour/salt bowl. I had big bowls of oil in the middle of each table (have a back-up for the inevitable child that just dumps their flour bowl into the oil) and they grabbed 2 Tbsps of oil and dropped them into the well in the middle. Then they poured the yeast mixture in and mixed until it formed a ball.
I had flour bowls on the table and showed them how to sprinkle some on the table to knead the dough. This was fun to watch – child knead dough. Some children got right in, others had no interest, so their mothers pitched in. Ideally, the dough would be kneaded for 5 minutes. We put the dough back in the bowl and covered with a paper towel to rise for 20 minutes.
I’m not going to say it was the most amazing bread we’ve ever eaten, but the children made it! And everything tastes good with butter or jam, right? One mother told me about how her son very proudly told her husband all about how he made his own bread!