A week ago today, my class dressed in togas and threw a Roman feast.
Unfortunately, it was raining outside, so our Roman Feast/ picnic was moved into the classroom.
The parents generously donated a ton of food.
After being topped with crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs from my garden, the baked lentil and rice stuffed grape leaves turned out really well.
Most kids were adventurous enough to try the little stuffed rolls.
In addition to the food provided by the parents, we baked our own Ancient Roman bread.
Honestly, this is probably the best bread I’ve ever made.
Among the heaps of delicious food, the two large homemade loaves were the first to be eaten up.
I attribute the success of the bread to the long kneading times… when 18 kids each need a chance to knead the bread, the job gets done sufficiently well.
We followed a recipe from a teachers’ resource website called Sparklebox.
The children had to follow the steps independently to make the bread from beginning to end.
The bread was made with a mixture of whole wheat, rye and all-purpose flour.
The Romans ate sweet breads too, but this recipe was for a savory bread.
After the flours, water with dissolved yeast and salt water were combined, the real fun started!
Time to knead!
This dough goes through two kneading cycles prior to the final rise before baking the bread.
Before the first rise.
After the first rise. We had some very happy yeast!
The dough was shaped into two rounds then placed on baking trays coated with cornmeal. They were then sliced and set aside to rise one last time.
Fresh from the oven!
This bread was crunchy on the outside but soft and tender on the inside.
Many of the kids had never baked bread before so I was overjoyed that it turned out so well.
I hope they try to teach their parents this simple recipe!
Ancient Roman Bread
Makes two large loaves
2 packages fast-rising dry yeast
2 1/2 cups tepid water
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rye flour
Unbleached white flour to make up 950 grams in total flour weight
1 teaspoon salt mixed with 1 Tablespoon water
Cornmeal for baking sheets
- Dissolve the dried yeast in the tepid water in a large bowl.
- Weight the whole wheat and rye flour together in a large bowl.Add all purpose flour to make up a total weight of 950 grams. Mix the flours together.
- Add 4 cups flour mixture to the water and yeast. Whip for around 10 minutes.
- Add the salty water and continue to mix.
- Add the remaining flour to the bowl and mix to form a dough. You may need to use your hands.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes.
- Put the dough in a clean bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Take the risen dough from the bowl knead once more for 10 minutes. Place back into the bowl and set aside to rise for another hour.
- Punch the dough down once more and split the dough to form 2 large loaves. Shape the loaves then place them on baking sheets which have been dusted with cornmeal. Gently slice the tops of the dough with 2-3 ventilation cracks. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow to rise until doubled in size.
- Bake in a preheated oven set to 230 C (450 F) for 25 minutes, or until the crusts are browned. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- If you can wait, allow the bread to cook before slicing and eating.