I'm currently reading through School as a Journey, and am at times both inspired and frustrated. I'm inspired by all the amazing activities the author describes in the book, and frustrated at the same time by the challenge of adapting those activities to the home setting. One of the ideas that really appealed to me was frequent breadmaking. However, a few things occurred to me: how am I going to find the time to make the dough in the morning? How can I make this fun and not a chore? Can my family really eat that much bread, seeing as most recipes make two large loaves?
Luckily, I'm already in the habit of baking bread almost daily, albeit by myself. A few months back I purchased a book called "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day." This no-kneading-necessary recipe makes enough dough for 4 loaves of bread, but is easily divided to make two. I can make the dough in just a few minutes, and once it's done and has its initial rise, it keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks, gradually taking on a sourdough flavor. Although it's not whole-grain, I do use unbleached flour, and it makes a delicious light bread with a crisp crust.
Now, up until yesterday, I'd never tried playing around with the recipe. In the back of my mind, though, I wondered if I could adapt it to make it both kid- and mom-friendly. Surely this recipe was my key to fun, not pain-in-the-butt baking with the kids. I could potentially make enough dough at one time for a couple loaves of bread for dinner AND a week's worth of child-sized-creations.
So I took the plunge. I made the dough and let it rise. I then chilled the dough in the fridge per the recipe- as the dough is much wetter than normal bread dough, chilling makes handling the dough easier. After it had cooled sufficiently, I took out a portion for our meal and prepared it as I normally would. I also took out enough dough for two smallish balls for the girls, which I then rolled in additional flour and placed on a floured table for them.
They were so excited to get to work. I'm not exaggerating when I say this activity kept them occupied for about 30 minutes. The girls shaped, smooshed, re-shaped, and smoothed their bread. Lucy found some sprinkles in the cabinet, which added rainbow colors to her bread. I'm happy to report that will the additional flour I added to the dough and the table, the dough didn't stick at all. Once they were satisfied, I placed the bread on the breadboard, let it rest for about 45 minutes, brushed it with butter (a step not in my original recipe), and slid it onto the pre-heated baking stone as usual.
I was amazed to see the rolls rise beautifully during baking. Our experiment had worked! Our no-knead bread dough was worked over by four small hands for quite a while, yet still yielded light and delicious bread. I am so happy to know that with little effort, I can stow away dough in the fridge for fresh bread anytime.
Now, if only I can remember to integrate a fun baking song!
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