We just completed a unit called "Where does our food come from." As you can imagine, this is a huge unit, and includes learning about farms, food, some simple cooking activities, etc. As a wrap-up, we went to a bakery yesterday with the kids. It was awesome. One of the best days I have ever had here!
We are so fortunate to have an incredible bakery within a 5 minute (well, 15 with 27 4-year-olds) walk from work. The bakery, Bakery Blankenhorn, is one of those wonderful family bakeries, where everything is made fresh on premisis. Unlike the major bakery chains here, which although good are not incredible, Bakery Blankenhorn is one of a disappearing breed. You can see that things are made by hand, not with a machine, and you can taste the freshness and the better ingredients.
The owner and head baker, Mr. Blankenhorn welcomed the 27 sopping - wet little ones, and the drowned 6 adults into the shop with a big smile. First, we looked at all the wonderful things in the shop, before heading into the back.
The back room, where all the baking magic happens was actually huge! We split the group in 1/2. Some kids went into a break room to hear a wonderful Eric Carle story, Walter the Baker, which is about the history of the pretzel. The book is now in my shopping cart on Amazon. We listened to the story first. It was such a great story, plus, being about the history of the pretzel, it is set in Germany.
As an aside, the history of the pretzel, although a little fuzzy, is linked back to the southwest of Germany. Well, the area now lies in France, but at the time, the area was German.
Back to the visit. When it was our turn to go in the back, Mr. Blankenhorn had set up two large pieces of dough. He showed us how the dough, which begins by looking like a pizza, is placed into a machine that makes indivdual balls.He then put the balls through a machine to make little roll -shapes from the dough. Then, he gave the kids the dough to roll out and twist into pretzels. The kids loved it! The teachers loved it! It was so great!
We then got to see the secret to turning the outside brown. The pretzels are quickly dipped into an acid bath before baking. In German, this acid is called "Lauge," and is why pretzels here are called "Laugenbretzeln", Lauge Pretzels. After the acid bath, Mr. Blankenhorn showed us how the pretzels are salted, and then put into the oven. He was so kind, and picked up all 27 little cuties to look into the oven. The kids were so interested in the entire process. After the pretzels came out of the oven, we bagged them up (they each got 4!), and headed back. The cutest was to see how many kids came into school today with their pretzels from yesterday!