*Baking Bread Field Trip

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Conversion Table for Cooking

You can plan several math exercises to practice unit conversion using bread recipes. Use any of these resources:

The Cooking Measures and Conversion Calculator


The Conversion Table for Cooking


You can ask students to adjust recipes to use different quantities of flour so they can do some math exercises, working with fractions. For example: convert a recipe that asks for 3/4 cups of flour to use only 1/2 cup of flour.

Bread Making Activities

While there are thousands of bread recipes, many of them do not have scientific background. I have included here some recipes available online that students can use to make their own bread.

Bread in a Bag by Laurie Lautt, Montana State University Extension



Some Observations on Bread Making

During bread-making, bakers want to develop dough so gluten can retain the gases produced by yeast. Both kneading and leavening contribute to dough development. Since your students' hand kneading will not be as efficient as the work provided by mechanical mixers, they should plan for a long fermentation stage and provide enough sugar to the dough to be sure that yeast continue producing gas after some hours of leavening, when molded and panned doughs finally go to the oven. While they should observe a rise of the dough in the oven, you should plan for a final fermentation time that provides the panned dough as much rise as possible.

Additional Bread Making Activities

  • Students can monitor the rise of the dough by putting a small ball of dough into a plastic graduated laboratory cup and measure its height at different intervals during leavening. With some practice they will know which is the correct height for a dough to go to the oven. If they measure the time between readings they will find at what height the dough slows its leavening rate. They should plan then to put the panned doughs into the oven when they reach a safer, smaller height.
  • You can ask students to write the height of the dough at the start of the experiment and then ask them to find the time the dough needed to increase 1/3 volume or reach a volume of 4/3 or 1+1/3 (or other appropriate fractions) so they can do some math exercises working with fractions.
  • Students can assess doughs that have received different kneading, leavening or ingredients by comparing the properties of 2 balls of dough during the final fermentation. Doughs that have not been processed properly will not rise or grow flat. This will result in a small or a flat loaf.
  • The area and the height of a slice of bread that has been cut from the center of the bread are representative measurements of the quality of the bread. Students can take photos of these slices to keep a record of their breads.
  • Laboratories measure the volume of breads by rapeseed displacement. I found that rice grains are also suitable. Students can experiment measuring the volume of their loaves.
  • Just fill a suitable hard box with appropriate dimensions for the bread with grain. Weigh the grain needed to fill the box with and without the loaf. Students can find the volume of the box by measuring the volume or the weight of water it contains.
  • Since they know the weight of grain needed to fill the volume of the box, they can now easily find the volume of the grains that are displaced by the bread, by weighing the displaced grains. This volume of the displaced grains equals the volume of your loaf. Cereal chemistry laboratories attach much weight to the volume of loaves when they assess their quality.
  • Ask students to describe the characteristics of their favorite bread. Using this description, they can assess the characteristics of a bread they baked in the classroom or from a bakery.
  • If you choose to do some bread making with your class, consider using the Kids' Bread Restaurant activities available at


Nutrition Activities

Using the Personal Food Guide Planner, ask students to write their daily food intake. At the end of the day they can see how they compare with the Food Guide Pyramid. Extend the survey to other students in the school. On average, Americans report eating only 3 servings of grain foods per day. At the end of the day check how students compare to this average.

Ask students to plan their meals to attain the recommended 6-11 daily servings.

"50 Ways to Leave your Love Handles", is a list of 50 cereal foods. They can choose some of these meals to reach the 6-11 daily servings of grain foods.

They can also use the Shopping List.

Bread in Fine Art

Ask students to search the internet for bread paintings. Ask them to write a description of the painting they choose.

History/Social Studies

Students can read http://www.bakersfederation.org.uk/History_of_Bread.aspx and make a timeline of the major developments in the history of bread making. Ask them to search the internet for information on other major technological and social developments.

Breads and Other Cultures

http://www.penpages.psu.edu/penpages_reference/29503/29503579.HTMLl provides information on different types of breads available around the world. Ask students to search the internet to find a recipe and geographical, historical, and ethnic information about the country where the bread is produced.



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