Little kitchen helpers: bread

I love making bread with my kids: it’s simple; aside from ingredients and a way to measure them all you need is a big bowl to put everything in; you can do all kinds of fun stuff with flavours and shapes; it’s scientific (the yeasts eat the salt and give off carbon dioxide to make the dough rise); and it’s hard to go wrong, no matter what they do.

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Here’s our basic ingredients:
500g plain flour (I’d love to use brown/wholewheat/other interesting flour, but here in South Korea I have trouble finding anything other than white wheat for bread)
7g instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil (could be something else, we use canola if we haven’t any olive)
300ml warm water

Optional fillings (a few of our favourites):

  • a packet of malteasers
  • a couple of handfuls of cranberries and/or raisins
  • a tablespoon of sage and a couple of handfuls of grated cheese (we use mozzarella pizza cheese as it’s easy to come by over here but you could try anything)

Now, we don’t actually have scales or measuring cups in our house… it’s not something that was here when we arrived and it’s not something I’ve bothered to buy. I thought about it, but I have no storage space for half the things we do have, and as 1 heaped tablespoon roughly equals 25g we find that guesswork normally gets us there. So in the pictures you’ll see the kids measuring by counting (good practice!) spoonfuls into the bowl (ok, it’s a saucepan – again, why buy extra stuff for a house in a foreign country where we only intend to live around 3 years when we can make do?)

Method: 

Mix the flour salt and yeast together. (Try to make sure at least some of it is mixed IN A BOWL rather than on the floor).

Add the oil and water. (Try to prevent toddler from adding ALL the water in one go as you might need slightly less, or add a bit more flour if your dough ends up sticky. Also, your preschooler wants to do some too, and he made a special hole to pour it into).

Squish everything into a dough and play with it for a while! (Try not to let the kids eat all of it yet, and make sure that you do knead for 5 or 10 minutes until the dough is nice and smooth and stretchy).

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I normally want to cry at about this point. If you want to avoid the mess, you could always pre-prepare the dough and just let the kids at it after it’s risen for the first time.

 

Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with a towel and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).

Go check out how big your dough got! And then poke it until it gets flat again, get it out of the bowl and play with it some more. Also add any fillings – flatten out the dough a bit, make a kind of hollow or dent in the middle to put the extras in and then fold the dough up around and knead it thoroughly through the whole dough.

Shape your loaf or rolls (good practice for dividing things into even-sized pieces), or put the dough in a tin. (Try not to let toddler destroy all of preschooler’s creations).

Leave to rise until doubled in size again (about 1 hour again).

Bake in a preheated oven at around 200 degrees Celsius until golden brown. It will also sound hollow if you tap it on the underneath. A loaf should take 25-30 minutes, rolls more like 20 minutes, but it might vary a bit depending on your oven.

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Books and pancakes

 

Elly was conquered by the library and lunch

 

Went to the library today. Got shushed before we’d even got on the bus.

Daddy (carrying toddler down the steps and bouncing him gently)
Nearly 4 year old: Daddy, remember to walk carefully on the steps.
Daddy: Sorry, what did you say Zeph?
Me: Yes, Daddy. Please remember to be careful on the steps. We don’t want you to get hurt.
Nearly 4 year old: Please be quiet, Mummy!
Me: Oh, sorry!
Nearly 4 year old: Mummy, you are too noisy! Daddy, you have to walk carefully on the steps so you don’t fall down!

On the way home it was the other way round…

Zeph (sitting at the very front of the bus): Mummy, how did God make the earth?
Me (sitting at the very back of the bus): Why don’t we talk about this when we get home.
Zeph: What Mummy?

Repeat. Several times. Until he realised he couldn’t hear what I was saying and gave up. Or got bored and tried to think of another way to annoy everyone else on the bus.

 

Zeph loves reading, but just recently during our bedtime books he’s been quite distracted: he wants to jump around and play, though if I happen to stop reading I’m quickly instructed to continue. I realised its been quite a while since we’d been to the library for one reason and another, so we’d been reading and re-reading the same books. After reading at the library today it was, ‘Can we read a book in the park?’, ‘Can we read a book on the bus on the way home?’, ‘Can we read a book at home?’, followed by absolute attention tonight at bedtime.

Today amongst our mix came a few from favourite series that I would definitely recommend for fun, exploring science and problem resolution: Curious George, The Magic School Bus, and Arthur.

Then, some strange fit seized me this evening, and instead of taking the easy option that I was planning on (sandwiches, having eaten out at lunch time), I offered to make pancakes. This, to my un-surprise, was quickly seized upon by Zeph. And my husband.

Ok. Pancakes.

And then a little voice said, ‘Mummy, can I help you? Please?’

Now, I love to let my boys help with all kinds of things. I love cooking and baking with them. Or at least, I think I do until we get half way through and there is something, no there is half my kitchen, smeared across my children and the floor. So I always have a small internal battle when I get asked this question, especially when I’m tired and I just want to get dinner ready so I can get to bedtime. ‘You really want to? … *arghhhh* … oh ok!’