ARLINGTON — Students of Fisher Elementary learned all about baking bread on Wednesday, and will use their new-found skills to bake loaves to donate to local food pantries.
This all was made possible thanks to a program from the Norwich, Vermont-based King Arthur Flour. Their program, Bake for Good, now in its 24th year, has an instructor visit the school and teach the students about making bread. Then, students are given bags with a recipe booklet and all the ingredients necessary to make two loaves of bread. One, they can keep for their families, while the other is brought back to school, and donated to local organizations.
According to Katie Gulley, Fisher's school nurse, who also acted as the point person for bringing the program to Arlington, said that the food would be donated to the Arlington Food Shelf, the Manchester Community Food Cupboard, Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales in Bennington, and the Green Mountain Christian Center, also in Bennington.
"Your school is going to tale all that beautiful, delicious bread you made, and give it to people who need it in your community," said King Arthur Flour Bake for Good instructor Amy Driscoll, who ran the presentation. During the program, which lasted about an hour, she and her two student helpers, Sarah and Makayla, walked third, fourth, and fifth grade students through the entire process of baking bread, from how to mix the ingredients, to how to knead the dough, and even how to form the dough into different shapes.
"Making bread takes time, but it's worth it," said Driscoll, warning that the recipe she was teaching them takes about three hours to complete, "If you're bringing your bread to school on Monday, is 9 p.m. on Sunday the best time to start this? No! Your adult will be crying, you will be crying, the bread will get all soggy... It will be a mess!"
"Making bread is like a science experiment," she told the students, "We're putting our ingredients in in a precise way, and we're looking for a certain result." She told them to use their hands to test the temperature of the water they are using. If it's too hot to leave one's hand in, it's probably too hot, and could kill the yeast. If it's too cold, the yeast will be slow to activate, and the bread might not rise successfully. She also taught them the fluff, sprinkle, and scrape method for adding flour to the mixture, in which you pour the flour into a bowl and mix it up, to fluff it, then sprinkle the flour, rather than dump it, into a measuring cup, then scrape off the excess back into the bowl, before adding it to the water, yeast, and sugar mixture. "The difference between a cup of flour that is fluffy and one that is packed down can be as much as a quarter of a cup," she said, noting that mis-measuring flour is one of the most common mistakes novices bakers make.
After the bread was ready to be set aside to rise before baking, Driscoll showed the students how to do some more creative things with their dough, including pretzels, braided loafs, garlic knots, cinnamon rolls, and pizza. "Do you want to know the trick to perfect cinnamon rolls?" she asked the students, with a rolled up tube of dough and cinnamon on the table in front of her, "Dental floss. If you don't have any at home, go get some, because you should have dental floss at home."
Driscoll said that she is the instructor for the Northeast, and visits about 60 schools in New England, New York, and New Jersey each year. Nationally, the Bake for Good program visits over 35,000 students yearly, at no cost to the schools. Driscoll explained that schools apply for the program, and that there are far more applications than they can realistically visit in a year.
To learn more about the program, visit www.kingarthurflour.com/learnbakeshare.
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.