Flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, . . .dental floss?

So after the fact, I can tell you that the sunny girl and I sure did enjoy our bread baking adventure with the Girl Scouts.  And I can also tell you that you don't need to offer me any tasty rolls or slices of delicious pumpernickel bread.  I'm good.

The fabulous Girl Scouts embarked on their bread baking saga as the culmination of a "Journey," which is what the Girl Scouts call a merit badge.  Except it's not really a merit badge because the requirements are different, and the way you prove you've met the requirement is different, and the Girl Scouts keep changing the requirements, and keep changing the name of the stinking thing (it used to be called an "Interest Project," for example), and I really wish the Girl Scouts would stop being so defensive about not being Boy Scouts and just call the thing a merit badge, for God's sake.

But whatever.

The task at hand was this: each girl needed to bake two loaves of quick bread (the sunny girl made pumpkin bread and banana bread) and a loaf of traditional yeast bread.  The breads would all be donated to community groups in the area.

We make quick breads all the time at our house, so the sunny girl cranked this part of her day out pretty quickly (heh!).  But while she has watched her dad make yeast bread, she had never done it before -- so when her bread started to rise, she was delighted -- and a little startled. (Here, the Bat Mitzvah girl and her mom are kneading dough for a yeast bread.)

Actually, most of these girls were new to the baking process (we are raising a generation of slice and bake aficionados . . .), so throughout the day the girls would check on their dough, and we would hear squeals of surprise as they saw how big it had gotten.

The only frustration -- and these girls handled it pretty gracefully -- was that the kitchen we were using was not made for nine girls and their mothers to be using it at the same time.  As you may know, bread baking requires counter space to mix and knead, and then space in a warm spot to let your dough rise, not to mention oven space.  The timing of all of this requires some precision as well -- it was sad for some girls when their lovely loaves rose, only to fall again before they were able to pop them in the oven.  One more lesson about the baking process.

 The girls figured out how to work in shifts, and had meal responsibilities as well as dish duty to contend with, too.  When we were finally all done with all of our loaves (we started at 10:00 in the morning, and the last loaves came out of the oven at 9:45 that night), one of the rockin' mommies remarked to me, "I will never eat another slice of bread without really appreciating how much freaking effort went into making it!"

And here is a swell story in pictures -- a microcosm of our day:  Victoria and Tia Sally had never baked yeast bread before, but they bravely chose to make cinnamon rolls.  Check it out!

I missed seeing them roll out their dough and spread it with butter, sugar, and cinnamon.  Then they rolled it up into a log.  At this point Victoria was a little confused.  "How are we going to get rolls out of this hunk of dough?"  Silly Victoria!  Haven't you ever walked by Cinnabon in the mall?

Their list of ingredients included dental floss, which made all of us say, "What the heck?"  But we all (including Victoria and Sally) had a delighted aha! moment when we watched Victoria slice through the dough with the floss (you can see her hands in the background of this picture).

It's so cool -- the dental floss really did make a nice clean slice.  My Contractor noted that the technique is just like garrotting someone.  She reads a lot of murder mysteries.

The rolls looked beautiful  as Sally put them near the stove to rise.

But holy cow!  They really, really rose!  Victoria and Sally decided to divide them into two trays.

Fresh out of the oven . . .

. . . and here they are packaged for some lucky senior citizen.  How cool is that?!


This little rhyming book, Who Is Coming to Our House?, is a sweetly illustrated story of the animals' preparations for the guest who will soon arrive.  Mary and Joseph are on their way, and will soon need a place to sleep.  All the animals hurry to tidy their home for their special guests.