There is something comforting and nurturing about making bread with children. The experience of making bread is extra special, it's the kneading, the lovely texture, the rising of the dough, and the warm bread at the end. It's also the surprise, will it rise at all?
I keep in mind when making bread with a toddler that the dough can be unpredictable but mostly fixable. Too sticky, we can add some flour. Too dry, add just a touch of water. The child will often spill a little or a lot but we can make it work.
What makes this activity Montessori? We halve our usual (child friendly) recipe to make it more manageable for a toddler. The child takes the lead. The ingredients are pre-measured so it's easy for him to pour them all in and mix. I try to take it at the child's pace, this is prepared at a time we don't have to rush. I allow my toddler the time he needs at each step. Today this was prepared on a low table, at the child's height. I try to help as little as possible and only when asked or when the activity has been abandoned. Most of all this is fun and interesting to my toddler and he loves to share the baked bread with his family. Have you found that the child's greatest joy is in sharing?
*Based on using saf-instant yeast.
Above is the recipe we use. It can vary depending on the type of flour and the type of yeast. I've found saf-instant yeast reliable and it doesn't require proofing or pre-dissolving, so it's super simple for toddlers to use, all the ingredients can go in at the same time.
I made a little 'bread making' sign so my toddler knows what he can make here. He's always happy to make what I put out but often in the morning I will ask him what he wants to bake or we will bake together in a more collaborative but less organised way.
This is a recipe where we can pour everything in, in no particular order. Remember the water needs to be warm.
The child can easily see all of the ingredients. I try when possible to use glass, pyrex or transparent containers/dishes.
Then mix thoroughly.
Knead the dough.
Or poke it, or roll it, or tear it. I give it a bit of a knead before it goes into the bowl.
Cover with a warm towel, put in a warm spot and leave it to rise.
Then be patient. I set a visual timer so Otto knows when it is time to check. Today we let this rise for around an hour. We also clean up a little.
Oil the baking tin with some extra olive oil so the bread doesn't stick.
Wow! The dough is beautiful, soft and airy.
This hands on learning is like nothing else.
Knead the bread again briefly.
Then put into tins and bake. These two small tins went in the oven for around 20 minutes at 180°C.
A lovely result.
The children can cut up the bread and eat warm, make sandwiches or eat with a dip like hummus. Delicious!