“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
Thursday is our bread baking day. Bread baking is satisfying and deeply nourishing to children and adults for so many reasons. Bread baking may seem a bit daunting at first, yet with patience and practice, the transformative process that makes flour into risen bread can become easy. Begin with ingredients at room temperature.
Bread baking is a lively experience, we grind the grain, awaken the yeast, mix it up, watch it rise over the course of the morning, knead it and experience intimacy with our food, with the bounty of nature.
Bread bun making is a social act. We can tell a story on bread day and sing songs while we knead, then let our buns rest and rise, before baking them in the oven. Bread baking fills the house with warmth and the smell of goodness.
Bread baking teaches us patience, reminds us of our connection to the earth, is an example of transformation of Mother Earth’s bounty in the loving hands of eager beings. Bread baking is joyful for young children and an oppurtunity to do purposeful work which is deeply satisfying for the young child.
Bread baking nourishes and enlivens the four bodily senses: the sense of touch, the sense of life, the sense of balance and the sense of movement. It is an ideal activity for young children. And fresh made bread tastes good and provides nourishment to our bodies!
Spelt flour is very forgiving. It is not sticky and is easy for little hands to manage. I like the whole spelt, it has a nutty quality to it yet is light and tasty too.
To set up for baking, put on your aprons. Set the ingredients out on a surface the child can see and access with ease.
Grain grinder, if you have one, not essential
Begin with grinding the grain if you have a grinder
I use an old coffee grinder.
Put the spelt berries in the opening on top of the grinder
Now we have some freshly ground grain ~ we sometimes sing while grinding ” The Miller, the miller, the miller is gringing the grain, at his mill he is grinding the grain….”
4 cups whole spelt flour, plus more for consitency if needed
Spelt berries, optional for grinding
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 tsp yeast
2 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
handful of oats
2 Tbs maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp salt
- In the mixing bowl, place the warm water and the maple syrup. Dissolve the yeast on top of it, let the yeast proof in a warm spot until it gets foamy without stirring.
- Once foamy add the salt, oats, butter and flour until it makes spongey ball.
- Sprinke some flour onto a clean work surface and knead the dough for about ten minutes.
- Place dough in a clean bowl rubbed with butter, cover with a tea towel, leave it in a somewhat warm place and wait for it to rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Remove dough from bowl cut into even potions for numbers of dough makers or buns. This recipe makes 6-8 good sized buns.
Set each child up with a clean work surface sprinkled with flour and encourage the children to put on their “bakers’ gloves” that is to dust their palms with flour. Then away they go making forms with their buns. You might model a twist, a braid or a snail. Place formed buns on buttered baking sheet. Let rest until dough relaxes covered with a tea towel.
Brush the tops with milk before putting them in the oven. Sprinkle a few pats on the top of each one.
Some days we make a sweet cinnamon bun by flattening the dough and spreading honey, a few dabs of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon inside. Then we roll it up and bake it.
The Story of the Little Red Hen is a sweet story to tell to young children on bread day.
Oats and Beans and Barley Grow is a songwe sing with bread making too.
Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie is the Editor and Publisher of The Wonder of Childhood and has spent the past fifteen years with one of her own children in early childhood (under seven years of age.) and worked with children and their families from pregnancy until Kindergarten. Lisa’s home based program The Children’s Garden began fourteen years ago. Lisa is currently working with parents, teachers and child care providers. She lives with her family in Northern New England. Lisa blogs at Celebrate the Rhythm of Life and supports parents, teachers and child care providers with her interactive curriculum program that supports daily,weekly and seasonal rhythms in the home here. Celebrating the Rhythm of Life in Caring for Children is on FaceBook here. She hosts an open discussion groups for parents of young children here.