Poppy's Cinnamon-Raisin Snail
This wasn't the final shaping, but Peregrine was very excited to have spelled MOM with his dough!
For as much as I enjoy being crafty, I've never done a lot of crafts with my kids. I'm just not a fan of spending time and money to make junky things that I then feel guilty about sneaking into the trash at some later date. I feel like a rotten mom just writing that, but there it is... the truth. My kids, however, have no aversion to "junk crafts" and would love it if we'd do more of them. And play dough? Mess, mess, mess. I hate the little pieces that inevitably end up all over the place. I hate the way it gets squished and ground into everything, and I detest the smell of store-bought Play-doh. Not to mention the way it's spelled. (I grew up with a "good mom" who made play dough for us and it didn't stink. I'm sure she hated the mess too, but that didn't stop her.) So, about 80% of the time when my kids ask if we can get Play-doh out I say "No, not today." (Can you believe that The Spell Check Gurus aren't at all bothered by that word, doh? But if I try to spell Playmobil they freak out?)
About once a week we bake bread. It's healthy and hearty and wholesome, and the dough is wonderfully squishy and stretchy and resilient. Most of the time we don't encourage playing with food at the table, but on bread baking day I'm all about it. The kids each get a nice lump of dough to shape and re-shape and stick raisins in to their heart's content. This probably keeps them happy for close to an hour. And when it's done, when they've finally decided on what sort of wonders to make, we put it on a pan, cover it with a towel, and let the little yeasties do their thing. Our wonderful dough doubles in size; when we bake it it doesn't become hard and brittle. Rather, it becomes soft and golden and fragrant. And delicious. Now that's my kind of Play-Dough.
Here's a recipe for the bread we make. It's Whole Wheat but you'd never guess it. It's so soft and light and still tastes great several days after it's been baked. This recipe makes two loaves, or one loaf and all sorts of smaller wonders. The original recipe is here, and this is scaled down and slightly modified, the way we make it. I usually use freshly ground hard white wheat berries or whole wheat pastry flour, but you could use regular whole wheat.
Whole Wheat Bread
1 1/2 T Yeast
2 C Warm Water
2 C Whole Wheat Flour
Mix together in a bowl and let sit until double- about 20-30 minutes.
1/4 C Oil
1/3 C Honey
1 1/2 t. Salt
1/4 C. Gluten Flour
1/4-1/2 C. Ground Flax Seed (optional)
3 C Whole Wheat Flour
If using a mixer knead with a dough hook. If the dough is too sticky after about two or three minutes then add little more flour until it's the right consistency. Knead for a few more minutes until dough is smooth and stretchy. If kneading by hand, go to the original recipe and follow her directions. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until the dough has doubled, about an hour. Punch down and shape into loaves (or snails, whales, snakes, cinnamon rolls, cars, birds, etc.) Let rise another 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes for a large loaf or less for smaller shapes. Enjoy!