Friday, September 9, 2016

The BEST Homemade Little Red Hen Wheat Chia Bread Loaves

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Our Bearly Ready four Threeschool Preschool had Red Week! We read the Little Red Hen and everyone in our class helped us make their own homemade loaves of bread! See the full blog post here!
“Hurry, hurry! Come see the wheat. I need good helpers! Come help me make bread!” “It’s crunchy!” said Tallin. Everyone trickled over. Miss Kristin stayed to help the last cutters finally find their way over. We watched the wheat drop down to grind down into the hole. “Oooh!”
I put on my Little Red Hen hat. “Who will help me make the bread?” A resounding, “I will!!!” And they did, scooping up mounds of flour, adding sugar and oil to the warm water and yeast floating in the bowl. Everyone took a turn. The bread churned and churned.
We dumped it onto a greased cookie sheet and divided it into square blobs. Everyone put on a bib and we sprayed their hands with vegetable oil and let them knead away. “Make it like a big hot dog! Lay it in the pan like this!” I carefully folded in a beautiful mound of dough. “Now, give it a nice pat and we will send it off to the oven!” Some executed it perfectly. Others stretched it into snakes or flattened it like a pancake, but eventually, it all got wadded up into the pans and so it began to rise and form fluffy puffy loaves.

Little Red Hen Loaves

When we did our loaves during Red Week in preschool for our Little Red Hen Day, we purchased small individual loaf pans and sprayed them inside with vegetable coating and used a permanent marker to label them on the bottom ahead of time.
During the actual day, we passed them all out at each desk awaiting the blob of dough that would soon join.
We used two Bosch machines in order to make two batches simultaneously to accommodate our numbers, allowing the children to be good helpers by dumping scoops of ingredients into the mixing bowls. One batch yields roughly, 12 small loaves. 
Because we were adding scoops and scoops and nothing was really measured exactly, I had to rely on the look and texture of the dough more than exact amounts. Honestly, that’s what a good bread baker does anyway! Ha!
Here is what we dumped into the bowl. I had heated 6 cups of water ahead of time and had it sitting in each bowl when the children arrived. I added ½ cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of active dry yeast to each. (Yeast thrives with sugar, so adding a bit during it’s growing process really helps) We added the other ½ cup of sugar later as a helper scoop. I left the yeast to steep and welcomed the children in. We felt and tasted the small kernels of wheat and watched it grind down into flour. I put my Little Red Hen hat on and asked, “Who will help me make the bread?” We added scoop after scoop, making sure I didn’t get it too lumpy and dry. I sent the children off to make their hen hats while I churned and churned and added just enough flour to get it just right. It kneaded and mixed in the machine for about 7 or 8 minutes. Then we dumped it onto oil sprayed trays to divide it into blob sections to place at each desk. By having whole wheat or spelt as the main ingredient, we did not need to have it rise before putting it into the pans. Whole grains are wonderful that way!
Basically, this was our bread recipe:
  • 6 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons dough enhancer
  • 3-4 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
  • 6-7 cups whole wheat flour or spelt (I prefer spelt. It makes a lighter loaf and does not produce sugar as a body bulker like wheat does, however; as to the children and most anyone else, it appears to look just like grains of wheat)
  • 1/2 Cup Chia  Seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • Enough white flour to finish into a rather stiff sticky dough, but not too dry. I don’t know, maybe 3 to 5 cups of flour.
Knowing that salt kills yeast, I waited to put the salt in after adding a fair amount of flour to the yeast mixture. I could not afford to disappoint so many mouth-watering expectant children with the flop of a recipe! Ha! We bibbed each child and sprayed their cupped little hands held sweetly over their blobs. They molded and shaped what I had described and shown to “try to make a big fat hotdog shape!” Each managed to wad their dough into their pan and we set them all on large cookie sheets, trying to cram as many as possible side by side. They sat in a warm garage until almost double in size and then we baked them at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes while we finished up our hats. When they were done, we buttered the tops and brought the loaves in. They smelled delicious! “Who will help me eat the bread?” “ME!” “ME!” “ME!”
Because we were finished baking in just the nick of time before dismissing them from school, we had paper sacks labeled with each name on the front to lower the piping hot loaves and pans down into. We folded the tops down, donned the hen hats, and sent them off with their little hot loaves in tow. It was such a fun day!

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