Introduction to bread making for kids – Calzone
This is a recipe I’ve been teaching for the last few weeks and it has been a big hit with my pupils. It’s a good introduction to bread making because it doesn’t require the time usually needed to allow the dough to rise and double in size. Of course if you have the time, allow the dough to double in size as it does improve the flavour of the dough, but it works just as well with just a quick 10 min rise while the toppings are being prepared. This basic dough recipe can also be used for regular pizza. The main reason for making calzone is because it fitted well with the school’s topic ‘inside out learning’ and you can fit more on a baking tray this way.
There is no getting around the fact that bread making isn’t the cleanest of cookery, but it is a fantastic learning and fine motor skill experience. Informing the pupils that they would be getting messy during that day’s cookery class was greeted with cheers! The dough uses a mixture of plain and strong bread flour to make sure the dough doesn’t ping back too much when it’s being rolled out which in turn makes it easier for little hands to use. The kneading method I use with most of my pupils is the stretching method. However the best pupil of the past few weeks was a lad who had broken his arm. With a small amount of tuition he was able to knead dough like a pro using the one hand method I was taught by Aidan Chapman. I also showed the pupils that we can check dough is ready by stretching a small window in the dough. The thinner you get the window before the dough tears, the better the dough. While rolling out the dough some pupils noted how the dough seemed to spring back. This can be explained by the amount of gluten in the dough.
Making bread dough links well with science. During cookery club I set up a glass of warm water with sugar and yeast so the pupils could see yeast in action. I did have an interesting time explaining to some pupils that yeast is a tiny living thing, a microorganism, a fungi and not an animal. I think some thought that when we added the water to the yeast it would turn into something like sea monkeys! This link from The Children’s University of Manchester is a great resource for explaining microorganisms. This recipe also links well with maths. As with most measuring jugs it can be difficult to see where 75ml is so we weighed the water on digital scales to improve accuracy as 1ml water = 1 g.
Of course the filling of the calzone is endless. In class we did simple cheese and tomato and the Ikea BONUS knives did a superb job of cutting the tomatoes with no cut fingers. My favourite filling is cheese, tomato mushrooms and pepper. One pupil suggested a sweet filling of banana and chocolate spread.
While uploading the photos for this post I realised the small cuts I have put in the calzone to stop them being too soggy inside makes it look like the calzones have navels.
Cost = £0.47 (as of June ’11)
60g plain flour
60g strong white bread flour
2 pinches of table salt
1/4 tsp fast action yeast
75ml warm water
2 dsp passata (sieved uncooked tomatoes)
25g grated mozzarella
sprinkling of mixed herbs
1) Preheat oven to 200 oc. In a bowl mix together both flours along with the yeast and salt. Stir in water until you have a dough.
2) Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the clean surface, take the dough out of the bowl and knead until you have a soft, smooth dough. Add a tiny amount of flour if the dough gets too sticky. It can take up to 10 minutes for the dough to transform into a soft dough. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave while you prepare the toppings. Depending on time leave the dough for between 10-120 minutes.
3) On a chopping board cut the tomato into small pieces.
4) Cover your baking sheet with a piece of baking parchment. This is not essential but does make sure that none of the calzone sticks. Alternatively sprinkle the tray with a small amount of polenta or semolina.
5) Tear the dough in to two equal balls then roll out until they are the size of a side plate. Place the dough on the lined baking tray. Top with the passata then sprinkle with the cheese, tomato and herbs. Fold the dough in half so it makes a pasty-like shape then crimp the edges. Cut a small hole on the top of the calzone.
6) Bake for 10-15 min or until calzone is puffed and golden.