We are going to embark on a series of posts discussing some ideas for the typical skills a Waldorf homeschooling mother needs for the Kindergarten years and beyond. Many Waldorf schools and Waldorf homeschooling families have a baking day for their families within their weekly rhythms.
A mother who does work and practical homemaking as a model for her children is very valuable indeed within a Waldorf framework. From the framework of Waldorf Education, when the child sees the true work that the mother does and can imitate it in play, this strengthens the will of the child. Doing the same (ACTIVE!) thing at the same time each week is also what strengthens the will. We work through the will during the Early Years (under 7) as this is what helps to form the physical body for future physical health and lays down the foundation for the rest of the four body….
This post is not meant to be an exhaustive bread-making tutorial, but a few thoughts regarding this important skill.
First of all, if you can eat wheat, there is something to consider about this much-maligned grain. Wheat, according to Bread Beckers, is first among the grains for nutritional value including critical B-vitamins when freshly milled and eaten in its entirety, and also of Vitamin E when freshly milled. (You can grind your wheat in a grain mill or in the dry container of a Vita-Mix). Wheat does have gluten in it, and gluten is the protein of the wheat that you develop by kneading, which then traps and holds the yeast and causes your dough to rise. Wheat is about the only grain that can make soft, light bread. Hard wheat has a higher gluten content than soft wheat. Wheat varieties include hard wheat, soft wheat (red and white), spelt and kamut. Durum wheat is a pasta-making wheat that semonlina flour comes from. Grains that have no gluten in them at all can be used in recipes that do not call for yeast.
Yeast is an important ingredient in bread-making. It is a living organism that likes a warm, moist environment. Most of the time I use the yeast in with the water or liquids the recipe calls for and about half the amount of flour to “cool off” the water temperature. It seems to work well for me. Another factor to consider is that salt is a controller of yeast.
Sweeteners for bread include honey which you can substitute one to one for any sugar called for in a recipe. Some folks use Sucanat as well. Other ingredients sometimes called for in bread recipes include milk, oil or butter or eggs, lecithin (which is from soybeans, so you may not be able to use if you have soybean allergies in your family), gluten and flax seed.
Bread baking usually takes a bit of time, but well worth the results. After you grind your wheat, try putting your liquids in a bowl, adding the salt and yeast and part of the flour. Add the rest of the flour as needed; the dough will be soft when you turn it out onto a floured board. Kneading times for dough vary; usually about 2 to 5 minutes does the trick. Then the rising of the dough takes place, which is typically done in a warm place until doubled in size, punched down and shaped as desired. If time allows, you can do a second rising and then shape the dough. If you need to slow the rising process, you can also put the dough into the refrigerator overnight.
I feel sometimes making bread dough and shaping it into rolls is an easier place to start for novice bread-bakers. If your bread dough is not done on the inside, you may need a longer cooking time at a lower temperature.
Bread baking is an excellent way to start a weekly rhythm within your home,