No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Brilliant teaching session today – despite forgetting the yeast!

Held a Family Learning session at Weston Zoyland Primary School this morning - only the 3rd session of a course that started back in November. First, the holiday season got in the way, then I had an operation, then last week the school had some advisors in!

Now, however, we should have 3 consecutive weeks to finish off the course.

I always try and cover as many breads as I can in a session, knowing that you can make more than one bread out of a batch of dough. Today we were making a savoury dough, which would make a small pizza and a couple of sizzlers, plus a sweet dough which would make petit pain au chocolat and iced buns.

I generally begin a course by listing my shortcomings as a tutor (I don’t always read my notes; I talk too fast; I let the bread burn whilst enthusiastically going on about bread, etc.) – and I added another one today by forgetting the yeast!

There’s no excuse for this, of course, flour and yeast are a given in any session of mine (apart from when we’re making soda bread, of course!), no matter what other ingredients are necessary!

The day was saved by one of the students coming to my rescue by asking a friend who lived near the school – who, fortunately, had a breadmaking machine – to bring some of her yeast to the school; and ten minutes later, we had yeast!

In the meantime I’d found two sachets of fast-acting yeast in a seat-pocket of my car.

With these I made up a yeast liquid by stirring together half a jug of lukewarm water, a squirt of tomato puree, the two sachets of yeast, plus about 100-150g of flour.

For the first batch of dough – the savoury dough – students (the youngsters – all from the reception class) measured a mug of flour, tipped that into the bowl and added a quarter of a teaspoon of salt and half a sachet of yeast.

The liquid – 1/3rd of a mug – was made up half and half the yeast liquid I’d made with some lukewarm water.

Once the dough was mixed (adding more water as needed), the children kneaded it until smooth then divided it into 2 equal pieces by sawing in half with the side of their hands. One half was to be a small pizza, the other made into two sizzlers.

Once these were made and the dough was proving, the students made a sweet dough – substituting a dessertspoon of sugar for the salt.

This time I made up yeast liquid by adding sufficient lukewarm water to the now very actively fermenting yeast mixture I’d made earlier. Plus the students also used the other half of their yeast sachet.

This time the dough was divided in two, half made 4 petit pain au chocolat and the other half made three iced buns.

It took a little juggling to bake all these, using my two small ovens and a domestic oven.

I had one minor misadventure when I put a tray containing a pizza on the top shelf of the domestic oven – not realising there was already one there! There was a ‘clunk’ followed by a sizzling sound as the pizza topping met the back of the oven. When I had removed the oven shelves I was able to get a metal spatula under the pizza which was leaning against the back of the oven.

Surprisingly, the pizza, although a bit battered, was OK – indeed, as young Izaak proved later on in the session, it was very tasty indeed! (It would have been a different story, I’m sure, had the pizza been a full size one!)

Here’s a (not very good) pic:

Just a few of the pizzas and sizzlers - the numbers are to identify the breads
Why was it a brilliant session?

When we started a couple of the mothers said, "We're not going to make all that, are we?"

Well, we did - just about. Everyone went home with 4 varieties of bread plus the recipes.

The adults (there was one grandparent) are managing to stay back and let their children do most of the work - although they find this difficult (holding back is far harder for them than the actual breadmaking!).

Another thing we're making progress with is giving the child time to react. So often I'll ask the child to, say, pick up the dough and wipe it round the side of the bowl. The child will take a second or so to react to this request, by which time the mother will chime in with "Pick up the dough, Chloe (or whoever)".

I'm asking them to hold back and give the child time. Chloe will carry out the required action - when the information has trickled through.

We were also able to cover the main reasons why they should make their own bread:
1. It's teaching their child a skill for life - besides which it's fun! (Not to mention being educational.)
2. It's healthier than shop-bought bread - they control the quality of the food their feeding to their family.
3. It will save them money - the pizzas and sizzlers cost about 70 or so pence - the sweet breads as little as 30p.

As they were all leaving I gave them all some homework - which is to invite someone into their kitchen and teach them what they've just learned!

1 comment:

  1. Once you start making bread, it is surprising how uncomplicated it is!
    Today, your students learnt that even when things go wrong, as they invariably do, all is not lost!