Cooking with Kids

Young child wearing sunglasses and laughing with a mixing bowl and baking ingredients on a table in front of her.

by Chef Kyle Wagenblast

Cooking with children can be challenging, but rewarding in so many ways. It’s a great way to spend time together with your kids and give them a chance to learn and obtain hands-on experiences.

In baking we use a dash of science, a pinch of math, a cup of patience, a tablespoon of confidence, and lbs of accomplishment. We use science by getting the yeast to bloom and start eating sugars; this creates gasses that help our bread to rise. We use math to determine ratios of how much liquid to dry ingredients we need, and to adapt our ingredients if we decide to double or half our recipe. Patience is needed to give the dough proper time to proof and rise. We use confidence as we read through all our steps and know it will turn out, as well as afterwards in knowing that we can change subtle things and still have it work out. The more you do the more confident you become. As for accomplishment, well, who doesn’t like a fresh loaf of bread!

Don’t forget there are also many quick breads that can be made such as banana bread, pancakes, or muffins. These are great fun to make, and can be a better choice for younger kids with shorter attention spans since there is no proofing time required. Just a quick mix and you’re ready to go!

East Coast White Bread

Photo of freshly basked loaf of bread cooling on a wire rack.

This is a Recipe adapted from a friend on the east coast for a traditional white bread. These instructions will walk you through making the bread by hand.

Ingredients
  • 5 cups or 635 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 package or 7 grams traditional active dry yeast (not instant yeast)
  • 2 teaspoons or 10 grams of fine salt, good quality
  • 3 tablespoons or 45 grams sugar
  • 3 tablespoons or 55 grams butter, melted (need only 45 grams, use the rest to grease proofing bowl)
  • 2 cups or 290 grams milk, lukewarm
Instructions
  1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar into 1/2 cup lukewarm water; sprinkle yeast over surface of water. Let stand for about 15 minutes until yeast foams well, then stir to combine.
  2. Combine 3 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt into large bowl. Add prepared yeast, melted butter and warm milk. Using a wooden spoon, mix for 4 to 5 minutes until mixture is smooth.
  3. Slowly incorporate remaining 2 cups flour, mixing gradually until soft dough forms and leaves sides of bowl. You may need to use a little more or a little less flour; add only enough flour to form a dough that releases from sides of bowl and remains slightly tacky, but can be handled with your bare hands.
  4. Turn the dough out onto work-surface to knead; knead for 8 minutes, then form into a ball and place in a large greased bowl.
  5. Cover dough and proof in a warm place for one hour until the dough doubles in size.
  6. Punch dough down and knead a few minutes by hand before resting for another 10 minutes.
  7. Grease 2 medium loaf pans; divide dough into 4-6 equal portions. Form each division into a ball, placing 2 or 3 balls of dough in each loaf pan.
  8. Cover with clean tea towel; proof until about 2 inches above rim of loaf pan (approximately 2 hours, depending upon room temperature).
  9. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes depending on size of pans, or until loaves are golden and sound hollow when tapped.
  10. Turn loaves onto wire rack to cool; brush tops with melted butter to soften top crust.

Chef Kyle will be leading bread making classes as part of our March Break activity schedule.