Bake Bread! Things to do on a rainy day with a toddler, part I.

The rain set into San Francisco again this morning, so I thought I’d trot out a couple of rainy day success stories. (I’ll admit, I’ve got plenty of rainy day failure stories, but this is more fun!)


Getting started with the mixing
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Nothing rocks like kneading

Anyway, last rainy day, Boobaby and I used this cool no-knead bread recipe to put together a loaf or two, and it came out great — like real, three-rise serious bread!

And what can be bad about a recipe where the first ingredients are “one toddler, one tarp”?

In case you want to do this like an adult, here’s the original recipe at the New York Times Web site, but this is my toddler-tested recipe:


1 toddler
1 tarp
1 diaper (for the potty-trained, consider a swim diaper anyway)
3 c. high-protein flour
(we use 2 c. bread flour and 1 c. whole wheat, which worked really well)
1/4 tsp. instant yeast (seriously, I know it doesn’t sound like enough)
1-1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. water
lots of pots, bowls, and spoons of various descriptions


  1. Put a tarp or rubber sheet down on the kitchen floor. Wash toddler’s hands and take off all of toddler’s clothes except a diaper or underthing, ’cause otherwise, eeeew. You’re gonna eat this stuff. (As you can see, I missed the last part of this step, to great effect.)
  2. Put the flour into into a bowl and whisk in the yeast, then the salt.
  3. Hand the bowl to the baby with something tall, like a stock pot, and something to scoop with, like a measuring cup. Start toddler scooping.
  4. Fill another bowl with the water and hand it to the toddler, too. Get her scooping that, too. Ignore copious amounts of spilled flour and water.
  5. Once most of the material is in the stockpot, hand toddler a wooden spoon and get her stirring.
  6. Once you get a gooey mess in the stockpot, dump contents into a low vessel — we used a Pyrex loaf pan — and start toddler kneading. It doesn’t matter that this is a no-knead bread — think of this as mixing.
  7. When your attention span has lapsed, dump the whole thing into a large bowl and cover it with a towel or plastic wrap. Leave it somewhere warmish and enclosed — we usually use the microwave.
  8. Put the toddler into the bath.
  9. At least a day and a half later — seriously, let it go at least 12 hours! — turn the thing out onto a floured board. With floured hands, fold the dough once from the sides, and then from the top and bottom to make a ball-like shape.
  10. Put it, seam side down, into a big pot that can be covered and put into the oven. (We use a big Le Creuset French Oven.) Make sure you take any plastic handles off — they usually just unscrew.
  11. Bake 30 minutes at 450 degrees, then take the cover off and let it go another 15 or 20 minutes, until it sounds hollow when you thunk it on the top.

All that water makes a great moist bread with a nice but not too-thick crust — it’s just fantastic, plus fun for the baby. We do this at least once a week now!