Chester Students Bake Bread For Donation

Chester Students Bake Bread For Donation

Handmade baking workshop teaches Bragg School students the timeless lesson of hard work and giving.

 Ten little fingers squish into the flesh colored mass prompting a vocal reaction from the audience assembled. Lucas Miller smiles at his Bragg School classmates as he works the quivering lump into usable bread dough.

What used to be a common and everyday event in colonial Chester is now aseldom-practiced art. But thanks to a presentation from King Arthur Flour’s “Life Skills” program, all of the students assembled in the cafeteria learned exactly what making bread by hand takes.

“It goes well with our social studies program,” said Dr. Dan Johnson, Bragg School principal. “We have lessons based on colonial Chester and this is a good way to kick that off.”

Gina Ciancia from King Arthur Flour ran the workshop and was assisted byMiller and classmate Olivia Hyde. Ciancia kept a camera trained on the workspace to project a close up view of the measuring, mixing, kneading, and working of the dough.

“I love doing this,” Ciancia said. “This is my second career. I gave up nursing and went to culinary school where one of my teachers turned me on to this job.”

Ciancia travels to many places to give workshops like these and is one of three employees that teach nationwide. “Not being a teacher I had to learn how to deal with some unruly crowds,” Ciancia said. “But that was not an issue here.”

Indeed the entire crowd was captivated by the 45-minute assembly, as Ciancia helped define words that came up in her presentation. They quickly learned what gluten was, what it means to be dormant and what fermentation is all about. Once the dough was ready for baking, Miller and Hyde were shown how to make that basic bread into pretzels, pizza dough and cinnamon rolls. One of the biggest reactions camefrom using dental floss instead of a flour scraper to separate pieces of rolled up dough for pastries.

“I am always surprised how excited the kids get every time I do this,” Ciancia said. “Especially with the dental floss.”

While they weren’t able to bake that morning during school, each student left the assembly with a bread baking kit that included four pounds of flour, yeast, and a recipe.

“Remember when you take this home and bake your bread what you are going to do,” Johnson said. “One is for you to keep and one you are going to bring back to donate.”

On Jan. 30, the bread baked by the Bragg School students was collected and distributed to the senior center and Market Street Mission. And the students who participated learned that bread didn’t always come from a bag on the counter, and that getting your hands dirty during class is ok—sometimes. 


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Phone: 201-669-7520
Dated: February 2nd 2012
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