Expert teaches children art of baking bread

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(Host) At this time of year the kitchen is often filled with the delicious smell of things baking.  And there’s nothing quite like the scent of fresh bread.  One instructor has been teaching the lost art of bread-baking to thousands of school children around the country. 

VPR’s Jane Lindholm explains.

(Lindholm) Paula Gray has been baking bread since she was a little girl in her Sicilian grandmother’s kitchen.

(Gray) "She had this big steel baby bathtub and she would have 50 pound bags of flour and she’d just kind of dump it in.  You couldn’t actually knead that bread.  And my vision is that she would be punching this bread sort of.  And she would make pizza and bread and fantastic fried dough."

(Lindholm) Now Paula Gray teaches other little kids how to make bread.  And not just a few-she’s taught over 85,000 school children around the country through King Arthur Flour’s Life Skills Bread Baking Program. 

The program has three goals.  First is to teach children the skill of bread baking itself and to reinforce the science and math they’re already learning in their classroom.

(Gray) “Then, thing two is that they’re going to take that skill home and they’re going to bake bread with their families.  And then thing three is that the recipe makes enough for two things.  One of the things they make they get to eat and the other thing is a loaf of bread that’s going to come back to school and is donated or given away to a community organization.  So now they’ve got the giving back to the community piece and sharing what they’ve made, and the kids really tune into that."

(Lindholm) King Arthur Flour donates thousands of bags of flour to participating schools so that the children can try their skills out at home after their lesson.

Paula Gray is a short, perky woman.  In her career she’s taught everything from elementary school to jazzercise.  But she says that in 10 years with the Life Skills program she’s never gotten tired of baking bread.

(Gray) "Every school is different.  Every group of kids is different.  And it’s like a teacher’s dream come true: I go in, I teach, and I leave!  And we’re doing something good.  It’s just a win-win thing.  The kids learn this great thing and we get these pictures of these kids and these mounds of bread, truck-fuls of bread.  It’s great."

(Lindholm) Gray says the Life Skills Bread Baking Program will reach 100,000 children by the end of this school year.  Which also means 100,000 donated loaves of bread to communities around the Northeast and Midwest. 

For VPR News, I’m Jane Lindholm.

(Host Outro) We should mention that King Arthur Flour hosts our Norwich studio.

Bread recipe

Photo: Jane Lindholm

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