The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Suggestions for teaching an intro bread class for children

JMonkey's picture

Suggestions for teaching an intro bread class for children

Hi everyone. Sorry I've ... er ... been away for a while. I'm still baking breads several times a week, and pizzas, English muffins and other delights as well, but with an East Coast schedule in a West Coast world and a six-year-old to take care of (and cart around, or, at least accompany on my bicycle), I've been a bit cramped for time to post and keep up with TFL -- which has grown quite a bit in my absence, I see. Wow!!

I usually offer a 4-5 hour bread baking class for my church auction. They've been fun, and I just recently finished my latest. Three adults, and they wanted sourdough -- so I taught them the basics of bread baking, from ingredients to technique and even baker's math -- and, of course we baked a lot of tasty things: sourdough pizza, San Francisco-style boules, sourdough English muffins and, of course, a sourdough pizza.

This time around, however, I'm facing a new challenge. The purchasers would like the class to be for their 10-year-old son and, maybe some other children. My own six year old may take part.

Has anyone taught a bread baking class for children? If so, suggestions? I'm thinking a basic sandiwch loaf and, of course pizza, should be on the docket. But I'd love to hear from the community their ideas.


dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Jeff.

It's great to see you here again. You've been missed.

My first thought was to ask the 10 year old what kind of bread he likes and go from there. (I'm assuming he has had some exposure to good bread, I guess.)

How about something beyond a basic sandwich loaf that involves some playing with the dough. I'm thinking of a cinnamon raisin swirled bread. Or a braided bread or knotted roll. Or bagels. Even a hearth bread that the kids could score themselves. (A legitimate use of a blade that they're usually forbidden to "play with.") 

If sweet stuff isn't off limits and you are up to it, you could make up a batch of danish dough and teach them how to make a variety of shaped pastries. More cutting and folding.

Then there's the notion of making something they eat often, even though it's junk, but it doesn't need to be junk. I'm thinking hamburger buns or hot dog rolls.

Boy! It sounds like fun! Where can I sign up?


GlendaLynne's picture

Could I suggest making some basic bread dough and have the children shape it into various shaped rolls/buns, and after this experience, also into works of art.

The roll shapes can be demonstated, and copied. Scissors can be used for various effects. I have found that some children will want to make just one roll of each shape, but I think that this should be discouraged so that they can see the variation of effects with the risen dough.

They can then make 'pictures', where dough can be rolled and/or flattened into various shapes which together make up a work of art which covers a tray. It may be a picture comprising various elements - a scene, a house, an animal scene, a dinasaur, a volcano, or even an abstract.  Don't make suggestions - let it come from them.

You can also supply various things to help with decorating the dough, such as poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dried fruits, various glazes.

I would be less concerned with ultimate flavour, and would use a bit more yeast than normal, with the intention of maintaining interest. Perhaps the first rolls could be made with more yeast (less flavour) so that they can be baked before the children start shaping their masterpieces.

If the children have fun they will want to do it all again and learn more.

Just have fun - all of you.


JMonkey's picture

Hey, that's a great idea! I'd not thought of making cinnamon rolls or braided bread. That sounds like a great idea. Thanks!!

jstreed1476's picture

I like all the suggestions upthread, and would mainly suggest thinking like a tv chef. That is, arrive with dough at three stages--unmixed ingredients, rising, and nearly ready to shape and bake. That way, they can get hands-on experience with dough in relatively short order, which is an important point when dealing with 10 year olds, no?

JMonkey's picture

It is fun! I've really enjoyed the classes I've taught, and that's exactly what I've done. I usually bring dough that's already done the bulk rise so we can shape, and we mix some up as well that they can take home and bake. I'll do something similar with this class.

ClaireC's picture

I've done something very similar, in the last couple of weeks - I ran a bread-baking morning for 3 children, aged between 9 and 6 and one adult (age undisclosed!)  Also present were the parents of two of the children who generally hung around and helped the youngest one a little with weighing and such like.

Thoughts:  Bread rolls were good, because they needed less time in the oven and the kids really enjoyed being able to shape the rolls as they wanted.

I adjusted several things to speed things along a little - using slightly more yeast and a slightly warmer place for rising than normal were both helpful.  I also used yeast I could add straight to the flour for the same reason.  I did put one spoonful of yeast into warm water and sugar and let it bubble up, as a visual demonstration of what exactly it was that the yeast did, which people were interested by.

If I did it again, I would scrounge a second set of scales from somewhere, because all taking turns to weigh out ingredients with a single set was rather tedious.  I encouraged the kids to weigh straight in to the mixing bowl, becuase that's what I normally do, but they did need watching to make sure they zeroed the scales at the right moment, and understood why!

The kids wandered off to play outside while the dough was rising and baking, but if you were also doing pizzas, this would be the ideal time to prepare toppings and such like.  It was my first attempt at teaching others to bake so I didn't want to be too ambitious and attempt too many recipes.

One extra thing - I used some of the dough to roll out thin and put under the grill so that it puffed up big and round as pita bread, which we ate for lunch afterwards.  Again - it's a slightly faster acting, more visual aspect of breadbaking.

Look forward to hearing how it goes,



JMonkey's picture

Great idea about the second set of scales. I'll definitely try to do that. Pita bread -- great idea too. I feel like a 10-year-old watching them balloon up in the oven. Thanks!

mcs's picture

Sounds like a fun deal you have going there. 
Back in my previous life when I was a teacher of 11-13 year olds, I'd incorporate one cooking project into each quarter of the school year.  It was related to science, social studies, history, math, holidays, and life.  We made pizza, gingerbread houses, pumpkin pie, baklava, portuguese sweet bread, and all kinds of other stuff.  I even did some of the same stuff with high school athletes for the endless fundraising that we had to do.

As GlendaLynn mentioned above, creativity's a big hit.  The kids really loved the pizza making because they could put whichever toppings they wanted; some even did the 'cheese filled crust' just like pizza hut.  I told them they could try the pizza tossing, but they'd have to eat it even if the dough hit the ground.  Some tried anyway after a short demo. 

The great thing about stickybuns, is there are very distinct stages of the process-none of which require a lot of skill.  Plus, everyone's tastes great even if they don't look too hot.

I used volume measurements since we were working on fractions and that's what they'd see at home anyway.

2" PVC is a cheap rolling pin substitution (if you need them) since a lot of homes don't have rolling pins anymore.  Plus, then they learn to roll properly anyway by putting their weight on the rolling part and not the handles.


jstreed1476's picture

Maybe a tasting session where they can compare unleavened, lean, and enriched breads? Or white vs. whole grain versions of the same bread? Sort of like a vertical tasting with wine :-)

That could turn it into an exercise in developing their palates while they learn new skills.

ehanner's picture

Hey JMonkey,

Good to see you out and about. How about asking the kids teacher about recent lessons in history. Maybe you could tie into something they were talking about in school. That way the kids have a chance to bring something to the discussion which will help them be interested. After all, bread is just 4 ingredients. I would keep it simple and work around visual and  word images of ancient builders of pyramids or even early pioneers that carrier the yeast in a bag under their armpit (sourdough). The pita is a great idea. The graphic blowing up in the oven would catch their interest. My two cents. Sounds like fun to me.


GlendaLynne's picture

Kids Baking in a 20th Century Oven at

Happy baking!