Why is it that as soon as the school holidays start, the rain comes? Hopefully today’s downpour was just a temporary blimp but it’s always good to have some rainy day activities up your sleeve, just in case.
My children always love a bit of baking. I usually love it too, although I do have to be in just the right mood to cope with the mess that generally ensues. We try not to stick to ‘kiddy’ things like fairy cakes and smiley faced pizzas and I find bread making is a perfect activity for children. There’s the magic in waiting for the dough to rise and the fun of fashioning the bread rolls into just about any shape imaginable from plaits and hearts to hedgehogs, butterflies and caterpillars.
This is what we ended up doing when my friend Sarah came over for the day with her children Jack and Molly. Not only is it such good fun to make, you then get to tuck into the wonderfully warm bread for your tea, spread thickly with lots of butter and jam. Children always really enjoy eating food they have made themselves, don’t they?
Easy bread rolls
Makes enough to feed four hungry children
400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
7g sachet fast action dried yeast
250ml luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
Seeds, nuts and dried fruit for decoration
Oil for greasing
Put the flour, salt and dried yeast in a mixing bowl and combine well.
Make a well in the mixture and pour in the water and olive oil. Gradually work the flour into the oil and water to make a soft dough. If the mixture is dry, add a little more water. If it is sticky, add a little more flour.
Sprinkle a little flour onto your work surface. Knead the dough for five to ten minutes by stretching it away from you and then pulling it back into a ball. Keep going until the dough feels elastic and smooth.
Return the dough to the mixing bowl and cover with cling film or a clean tea towel. Leave in a warm place for around an hour until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.
Punch the dough to release the air and divide the dough between your children, and let the creativity begin. My daughter Jessie likes to make little hedgehogs using scissors to clip the spikes and pistachio nuts for eyes. Mia has a thing for caterpillars, placing lots of little balls of dough in a line. It helps to brush the bread with a little oil to keep seeds and nuts in place. Put their creations on a baking tray greased with a little oil.
Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size, until they are golden brown. Allow to cool a little on a wire rack before devouring with butter and jam. Delicious!
What do you like to bake with your children?