Making bread for homework (and butter too)

With the move now only two weeks away, and last weekend's out of town trip changed to this weekend, now is the time to start packing up what is left of my baking pantry and start on the rest of my kitchen. For the next two weeks, we are going to be having the minimum in kitchen items to work with.

This could be both a good and bad thing. Good because if I do bake something, I will have the chance to see what tools I really can't live without. And bad because the chances are my children will be getting store bought baked goods in their lunches for the next few weeks.

So if you are in Ottawa and see a twitching lady walking around with a purple hat on her head, don't worry, it is probably me going through baking withdraw.

In the meantime, here is something from my archives to keep you entertained while you wait anxiously to see what the Daring Baker's challenge for this month is.

One of the school projects my oldest son had to work on last semester was about the pioneers. The kids had to pick something about the pioneers and make a model, if they could. Some chose log homes, making them from sticks, others chose toys and tried to reproduce the kinds of toys pioneer children might have had. My son, doing me so proud, chose bread. He wanted to show how the pioneers had to make their own bread, that it didn't come in a bag, presliced, with colorful dots all over the outside. And that butter did not come in a foil wrapped block.

We could have gone to the library or searched the internet for pioneer style recipes, but he was lucky. His cookbook-a-holic mother happened to have a reproduction copy of the 1904 Good Housekeeping Cookbook, that she had picked up for $3.99 one day when bored and needing something to read. I doubt he knew I had that when he chose his project.

With Mom on standby to help with the bread, just in case, he set out to gather his ingredients, mixed his yeast and flour and liquid, checked with me to be sure it was working (it was, lots of bubbles in the rise), until he was finally able to take a turn at kneading, the old fashion way. Without a stand mixer or a bread machine. A messy task, one requiring lots of muscle, but a worthwhile task. The dough was tougher to knead than he thought it would be, so I did have to step in to help with that, but he did show a very good understanding of how you do it, and with a bit more practice at it, could probably do it completely on his own.

He was a very proud young man, with his 3 loaves of whole wheat bread, each a different size, but obviously hand made. What is fresh bread, though, without butter?

So he made some butter too, putting whipping cream into a container, making sure the lid was tight and got another arm work out. Sure, it looks rather ugh, but after he poured off the buttermilk and mixed in a bit of salt, he had very nice butter for his bread.

His classmates loved it, one even asked for the recipe so his mother could make it for him at home.

While he did very well, markwise, on this project, and raved to me how good the bread was, how easy it was to make, I've noticed that he never did ask if he could make it again. Maybe if the pioneers had also make home made peanut butter, he'd have come back asking to make that again.


MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Wow! Great project. You have a real budding star of a bread baker.`

BC said...

Well done! What a great kid - mom, you deserve to be proud.

Megan said...

That is just the coolest thing - your son is so cute and he obviously takes his projects very seriously.

If only Alexander had something neat like that - he had to construct a book cover this last week - boooorrriinng!

Elle said...

You can tell your mom's a baker when the school project revolves around baking. When my daughter was stumped for a science fair project and time was running out, we tested baking powder biscuits, eliminating various ingredients to measure how much or littel they rose. She was surprised at how much science there was in baking. I'll bet you son will remember this pioneers project!

breadchick said...

Excellent job on your bread there! You can come be my little helper any time.