Making bread from flour, yeast, water/milk and whatever else goes into your recipe is one of the most satisfying things a person of any age can learn, and there are so many good lessons for homeschooling, too. There’s measuring, of course, but there are a lot of little things that baking reinforces. Patience: it takes time for a loaf of bread to rise. An eye for detail: how do you know when the bread is mixed enough? When it's done? Sharing: whether you’re sharing an Amish or sourdough starter or a complete loaf of bread, sharing can be the best part of baking.
Even with all those good lessons, author Elizabeth Harbison and illustrator John Harbison go it one better by including a cheerful history of bread making in their book, Loaves of Fun: A History of Bread with Activities and Recipes from Around the World. You’ll learn how people across the world and across time have made their bread. They might use different kinds of flour. They might not even use yeast. But it’s all bread, made to be enjoyed—and shared.
In addition to history and recipes, the Harbisons include an easy-to-understand glossary of terms, general kitchen guidelines, and recipes that go beyond loaves of bread—paints, play dough, and tasty things to do with any leftover bread. Plus, you can make your own butter.
Check out Loaves of Fun for practical, delicious diversions. A few of the many kids’ cookbooks that you can check out from the library are: Four Ingredients, Kids: Simple, Healthy Fun in the Kitchen; The Star Wars Cookbook: Wookiee Cookies and Other Galactic Recipes; and, for serious would-be young cooks, Cooking With Children: Fifteen Lessons for Children, Age 7 and Up, Who Really Want to Learn to Cook.
Below is a recipe from Loaves of Fun. It’s a delicious recipe from long ago. Check out the book to learn the story of the English orphan Sally Lunn.
Sally Lunn Bread
HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL NEED:
2 teaspoons (3/4 package) yeast
2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, plus extra for greasing
3/4 cup water or milk
HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL DO:
- Mix all the ingredients well in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic.
- Put the dough into a greased bowl. Cover with a dish towel and let it sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk. This should take about 1 1/2 hours.
- Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes while you grease a loaf pan.
- Put the dough into the greased pan, cover it with a cloth, and let it sit in a warm place for 30 minutes or until it's doubled in bulk again. Heat the oven to 350º F.
- Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes. You'll know it's done when you knock on the top and it sounds hollow.
Makes 1 loaf.