Monday, 30 July 2012

Bread-making for beginners

What do you do in Berlin with two kids when it's pouring down with rain? Well, as much as you might enjoy lying in bed listening to the rain absolutely pounding off the pavement below, some people will still be begging to be taken to an outdoor pool. Time to suggest something different. Bread-making! Dead easy. 

Bread-making for beginners:

1. Clear your kitchen of all things you hold dear. Except children. (Though for better results, perhaps tell them to get lost too.)

2. Prepare yourself mentally by getting all the bowls, spoons, mixers, jugs, water, etc, etc, ready in advance. This will save you from having a minor meltdown later when you turn to get something, and turn back seconds later to discover half the bread mix on your ceiling.

3. Assign tasks to each child to avoid needless bickering/crying. One can pour the mix into the bowl, one can pour the water. 

4. Give each child a shot of the mixer until you realise that it is struggling due to the fact that it's around 40 years old, and not one of these new-fangled (much desired) food mixers/processors with a bread mixing hook. Give up, and tell them to get stuck in with their hands. 

5. As you watch them delve in, you may find yourself wondering if they did in fact wash their hands beforehand, or whether they just did that thing where they trick you by turning on the bathroom tap for a minute. Banish these thoughts from your mind: in a moment you're going to go right off the idea of ever eating this bread anyway as they scrape bits of mix off numerous surfaces around the kitchen and add it back into the bowl.

6. Once the mixing process is complete, attempt to scrape 75% of the mix off of your children. Become so covered in the process that you forget to care and just dump it back in the bowl and shove it in a pre-warmed oven to rise. 

7. Follow your children through to the bathroom to clean up and discover your lovely Cath Kidston towels now contain 33% more carbs than they did an hour ago while the tap remains untouched. Suck back the tears. It'll wash out.

8. Return to oven 40 minutes later and discover that the heat had been too high and you have kind of already started baking the bread. Remove from bowl and toss onto a baking tray. Turn up the oven and bake for a further hour. 

9. Remove from oven and delight in the absolute lack of fresh-baked-bread smell. (How can that be?). Cut into massive (still slightly doughy) chunks and make your partner eat it as punishment for going off and enjoying himself at football. Feel happy that your kids feel utterly proud of their achievements in the kitchen, and enjoy your sandwich (sneakily made with bread from the bakery)

When I was young I used to do a lot of baking with my parents. I really enjoyed the process of bringing different ingredients together and making something that to my eyes looked pretty amazing. Around the age of 7 or 8 I got into making bread. We had a great cupboard that got loads of heat from the central heating boiler which was perfect for leaving your bread to rise. Bread-making doesn't need to be a faffy process involving yeast. I started off using bread mixes I got at the supermarket, and always felt really pleased with the results I got. Nowadays the range of bread mixes is far greater than when I was a kid, so you can find something to suit most kids taste. We've also had some really great results with some sun-dried tomato bread. Despite my slightly negative slant, I actually really enjoy baking with the kids. It's good fun for all of us and they really do feel chuffed with what they produce. They also tend to eat what they make, which makes me happy, as they don't eat so much bread otherwise. Same goes if I get them involved in making dinner - they are always keener to eat it, especially if they get to try little tastes of it during the cooking process.

(You can see more of the things we've been up to in the summer holidays here on the page 'Something... to do in the summer holidays')


  1. Brilliant, this really made me laugh! My 7-year-old daughter's latest trick is to sneak into the kitchen, get flour, water & butter, mush it together in a bowl, roll it out, cut shapes, spoon honey in and call them jam tarts. Feeding it to Daddy... what a good idea!

    1. Yum... they sound perfect (for Daddy to eat)!

  2. those German bread-mixes NEVER worked for me

    1. It's funny that it had no smell. Anyway, judging by our results, do you think ours worked? ;-)

  3. Step 1 had me laughing already. Well done. And just hope you don't have any house-guests on Atkins (are people still doing that), if even the bath towels contain 33% more carbs. Sounds more dangerous for a dieter than a basketful of pretzels at Oktoberfest. ;)


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