Friday, 16 October 2009

Baking for Beginners

This week I've been thinking about introducing non-bakers to the joys of baking.

On Wednesday I assisted Z's class in a cookery lesson. They're in Year 3, which means they are all 7 or 8 years old. Some clearly do food prep, baking, messing about in the kitchen at home quite a lot. Some have obviously never seen flour in their lives. It was an exciting morning.

The teacher seems a nice bloke. He's very keen on lots of hands-on activities, so they bake 6 times a year with a designated volunteer baker (guess who) and do loads of model building and stuff like that. I think it's great - I'm all for learning through doing, and learning through play.

We followed a recipe from the teacher. It's not the one I use, so I did a test run of it the night before, with B helping. She was a super test subject - we found out we need less milk than the recipe says, otherwise it was too sticky for her to work with. She was delighted with her scones - which she doesn't normally like - and she dished them out like an empress giving alms to the paupers. I do love that girl.

In class, I started by doing a quick talk about how to wash your hands properly. It's amazing how many people don't know how to do it. I only learnt as an adult, and I'm keen that the kids all know. Given the state of some of the grubby hands I saw heading to the sink, I'm glad I did or the scones would have been grey.

The kids worked in tables of 6 and shared out the tasks. That was so interesting to watch. Some tables rotated each task, some took dibs on the tasks they wanted, some had an individual with... how shall I put this... strong character dishing the jobs out to the other kids. Perhaps inevitably, one table went for arguing with each other and messing up each other's efforts. Ah well.

Teaching them to rub butter into the flour was good fun and resulted in a pretty substantial mess. I rather liked it.

The recipe (slightly tweaked after B's experience) was this -
340 g self raising flour
dash of salt
75g butter
75g sultanas
40g sugar
200ml milk
Rub flour, salt and butter together in a large bowl. Add the sultanas and sugar and stir. Add the milk and mix into a soft dough. Place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1cm thick. (Some of the kids liked rolling so much they would have ended up with crispbreads had I not done a quick fix job before popping them in the over.) Cut out with a biscuit cutter, place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 mins (I assume at 220C, like my own recipe)
They turned out OK - pretty good considering. Very pale because they didn't have an egg wash brushed across them, and thinner than I like, but not bad at all.
I'd prefer to use my usual recipe, which I'll also give you just in case anyone has a hankering for a home made scone -
500g plain flour
50g sugar
2 tsp bicarb
4 tsp cream of tartar
(you find it on the shelf next to bicarb and baking powder in the shops)
75g butter
100g dried fruit of your preference
(I like 80g sultanas and 20g dried cranberries)
300ml milk
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 220C. Sift the flour, sugar, bicarb and tartar together. Rub in the butter, stir in the fruit then add the milk and mix to a dough. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead just enough to bring it to a nice dough. Don't bother rolling it, just pat it into shape - about an inch to an inch and a half thick. Use a cutter and just press it down - don't twist, it seals the edges and impedes the rising. Pop the scones onto a baking sheet and brush with beaten egg, bake for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack to cool.
Crumbs, that's a long post. I stuff I was going to say about adult baking beginners, but it's getting late and I can always talk about that another day.
Must dash, those cakes won't bake themselves...

1 comment:

  1. Fab - love the sound of the class - great stuff!