Bake Bread, Learn Science in One Easy Recipe!
I have just returned from volunteering with Scientist in the Schools, in my son's grade three classroom.
I'm not sure that one day a term is really a way to make kids excited about science, though the leader assured me that as long as the teacher continues with the themes, the kids learn scientific concepts throughout the term.
Well, that's a big if in a French Immersion classroom with a lot of kids, chaos, and other curriculum necessities on the list. I'm not so sure that kids are learning too much science in elementary schools. So science concepts sort of all into the we do at home bag. One thing that a primary teacher once told me is that the kids who bake with their parents regularly are farther ahead in math and science when they arrive at primary school.
Now that is a curriculum I can get behind!
I have posted some some easy recipes previously: including banana bread, chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Very young children can help with baking by measuring, stirring and cracking eggs. It will be messy and aggravating but just keep in mind the greater good that is at stake.
One thing that I always wanted to bake but never attempted is Challah (egg bread). Challah is sweet and soft and makes the best sandwiches and French Toast. Everyone loves Challah.
But baking bread is truly a science -- high level chemistry that has to do with glutens, yeast, temperatures and humidity. It is also a plan-ahead kind of project. All these things have defeated me in the past.
Upon hearing of my challah fear, Karen and Caroline the two moms at Two Moms Baked Goods invited my kids and I to a class to learn the secret to making a braided challah. And I have to admit I wasn't too hopeful that I would come out with any skill.
But I did! Thanks to the patience of Two Moms Bakery. I can make challah now! I can even braid it. (see picture below) Unfortunately, I can't show you a finished product because my kids ate it all while my camera was charging.
But in honour of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) where challahs studded with raisins take centre stage, I am posting their recipe.
Two Moms is famous for their stuffed Challah, which is challah with cinnamon sugar or chocolate in the middle. My family prefers the cinnamon (I know, I was surprised too). They didn't give measurements but I can estimate that the you need about 1/4 cup melted butter and two or three tablespoons cinnamon sugar (equal parts cinnamon and sugar mixed together).
What you’ll need:
• 1/2 cup plus 2/3 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)
• 2 tbsp dry yeast
• 1 tbsp plus 3/4 cup sugar
• 5 large eggs
• 3/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 tsp salt
• 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (approx)
• 1 large egg yolk
• 1 tbsp water
1. Combine 1/2 cup warm water, yeast and 1 tbsp sugar in large glass measuring cup and stir until yeast dissolves. Let yeast mixture stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In large bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat 5 eggs until blended. Add oil, salt and 3/4 cup sugar and beat until pale yellow and slightly thickened, about 4 minutes. Beat in 2/3 cup warm water. Add yeast mixture and beat until blended. Remove whisk and fit mixer with dough hook. Add enough flour 1 cup at a time to form smooth dough, beating well after each addition. Beat on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, adding flour by tablespoonfuls if sticky. Turn out onto floured surface and knead 2 minutes.
3. Lightly oil large bowl. Add dough, turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap, then with clean kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
4. Punch down dough. Cover with plastic and clean kitchen towel and let rise 30 minutes.
5. Grease 2 large baking sheets. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Divide each portion into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 9-inch-long rope. If stuffing with cinnamon, flatten the rope and brush on the sugar/butter mixture with a brush on each rope or just one. Fold the rope in half lengthwise so the mixture is in the middle. Braid 3 ropes together; pinch ends together to seal. Repeat with remaining dough pieces, forming 2 braids. Place each braid on baking sheet. Cover with towel . Let rise in warm area until almost doubled, about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk yolk with 1 tablespoon water to blend. Form a loaf by tucking the ends of the dough under. Place into greased loaf pan. Brush dough with egg mixture.
Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on bottom, about 35 minutes. Transfer loaves to rack and cool completely.
Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in plastic and store at room temperature. Or freeze.
While baking, don't forget to ignore the urge to yell at the kids for making a mess but instead focus on the math and science: talk about halves and quarters, how and why yeast works and what happens in the oven.
Have you ever baked bread? Try it! You might like it and your kids will learn science! Do you have a favourite bread recipe or does it scare you too?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about when Giant Tiger decided that Playboy underwear was for tweens.