Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bread, Bread, Bread

The Bread EB had the final session today. 
Reading the recipe.
Rolling pretzel dough

Grinding carrots for carrot bread.

This is what the children knew about bread at the start of the EB:
-you can eat it
-you can make it
-you use flour
-it is really good
-you can make bread rolls
-you can make pretzels
-it's good with butter and jelly
-it comes from everywhere
-they have bread in Sweden and Germany
-you grow wheat to make it
-you use yeast to make it
(They found out many more things about bread during the past 3 weeks.)

Besides practicing baking skills: reading a recipe, measuring, mixing, and tasting, the class learned a bit about the history of bread.  Scientists have found that early man made a type of bread substance by mixing water and grain, putting the substance on a stick and roasting it on a fire.

Putting batter in the pans.
Using a mortar and pestle to grind pumpkin to flour.

Measuring pumpkin flour

One interesting project we did was to make pumpkin flour.  The native people of this area grew pumpkins and used them for a wide variety of purposes.  To prepare for the winter months, they dried the pumpkins and ground them into flour. We used more modern techniques to make our flour but it was still a great deal of work. The pumpkin had to be peeled with potato peelers and cut into small pieces (we used a food processor). Then the pieces were put in 2 food dehydrator overnight  (thank you Billy for letting us use your dehydrators). The next day, the dried pumpkin was put in the food processor and ground to flour.  We also used a mortar and pestle just to see how much work it is to grind flour by hand.  After all this work we had less than 1 cup of flour. 

Manon brought in a recipe for some very special French bread that her grandmother makes.  The recipe called for "grams" instead of cups so we used a special scale to measure the flour and butter.  The recipe also called for a cold glass of water.  I asked Manon what size glass and she showed me with her hands.  The next day, I asked her dad, and he explained that a glass is an actual measurement in France, like a cup is a specific size in America.  It is approximately 1/2 cup.  (You learn something new everyday).  Since we used more water in our bread, it might not have been quite to Manon's grandmother's standards.

 I am also including in this blog the story of this bread* that Manon's dad sent me. *  I did not have a chance to share the story with the EB members, so I hope parents will read it to them.

*This bread, called "pain benit" (blessed bread) or "radillat" in the local dialect, is typical of the southern part of the historic region called Berry, right at the heart of France. Originally, it was offered by families during or just at the end of mass, after having been blessed by the priest, hence the name.  It was an honor for the family to provide it and this honor was rotated among families of the village.  Nowadays, is is only distributed during special ceremonies, celebrating the patron saint of a village or of a trade, mostly St. Blaise for the farmers, and St. Vincent for the wine makers. You can buy it at the bakery in only a few villages, in an area no larger than Washtenaw county.  Recipes can vary from one baker to another, with some adding yeast and using various baking methods.

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