SKOWHEGAN — Two hundred and fifty middle school students sat still for almost an hour Tuesday morning learning about something tasty — how to make bread and rolls from scratch.

The baked goods included braided bread loaves, French baguettes, cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, crescent rolls and pretzels. Each student was given the ingredients and the instructions to make two loaves of bread, one for family, the other for the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter in Waterville.

The leftover dough was for the rolls, pizza and pretzels.

“Pay attention to this, because this is a life skill you’ll have forever,” said Amy Driscoll, of the King Arthur Flour Co., as she demonstrated how to roll and fold bread dough into a perfect pretzel shape for baking.

The kids were impressed, but when Driscoll showed them how to use dental floss to cut rolled dough to make cinnamon rolls, they erupted into oohs and aahs of delight.

The learning session in the cafeteria of Skowhegan Area Middle School was presented free of charge by King Arthur Flour Co., of Norwich, Vt., the nation’s oldest flour company, Driscoll said. She said company instructors travel all over the country doing bread-baking demonstrations.

“We see about 35,000 kids a year,” she said. “I visit 60 to 65 schools a year. The mission of King Arthur Flour is to bring people together through baking. We have a very strong social mission to make the world a better place.”

King Arthur Flour was among the first sponsors of the annual Kneading Conference held by Skowhegan-based Maine Grain Alliance.

Driscoll and two members of the middle school student council, eighth-graders Shaneka Sapienza, council president, and Katelin Warren, council secretary, began the demonstration from scratch: water, oil, two kinds of flour, salt and yeast. Driscoll said the total bread-making time when the students make their loaves at home will be about three and a half hours. She advised them to set aside plenty of time.

The bread for the homeless shelter is to be returned to the school on Friday.

Driscoll stressed cleanliness, the importance of using the right tools and practices and precise measurements to make a good loaf of bread.

“Making bread is a science experiment,” she told the students. “There’s a lot of math and science and creativity that goes into it.”

The event was organized by Deb Tanner, a mathematics teacher and supervisor of the middle school student council. Tanner said a King Arthur representative came to the school a couple of years ago and the students liked it so much the company was invited to return.

“We did it with the kids, and it was extremely successful. We took all kinds of bread for the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, which they froze and were able to use over a period of time, so that is why we are doing it again,” Tanner said. “That is the shelter my husband, Rev. Mark Tanner, and I have been supporting for years.”

Sapienza and Warren, who did all the work making the dough, said they learned a lot Tuesday morning while standing up in front of all those seventh-graders.

“It’s important because it’s going to help you when you grow up, when you have a house and you want to make presents for people,” Katelin said. “I might have somebody help me make the bread when I get home, but I pretty much know how to do it now.”

Shaneka agreed, saying she probably will end up making the bread herself.

“I’ll do it myself on holidays, just to show my family what I learned today,” she said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow


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