The Grain Chain

Posts Tagged ‘baking’

UN International Day of Friendship: 30 July

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Information sheets from

The United Nations, as part of its Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, has designated 30 July as the International Day of Friendship.

The UN recognises the importance and value of friendships.  Friendships, between individuals, countries, organisations, and cultures can inspire peace, transcend differences and provide opportunities to grow. has a handout on special days for families and friends which investigates how celebrations for individuals vary across cultures from Saints Days in Italy to Mother’s and Father’s Days.

The end of term might be an ideal opportunity to reaffirm the friendships between your students before the long summer break.  Why not get them making cards or cooking fairy cakes to share.

Not so horrible histories…

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Following on from the history of baking feature in our last blog, we thought you might like to find out more about the early history of bread. It might not be anywhere near as exciting as horrible histories of course…but we reckon it’s definitely getting there!


Most people could be forgiven for thinking that history was driven by great scientists and ambitious people, but if you look closer, you’ll find that many of our inventions were actually driven by food availability, production and delivery. In other words, bread! Many kings and queens throughout history put a strong emphasis on feeding the people – they knew that the more hungry their populations were, the more insecure their rule over them was.

 bread egypt

In prehistoric times, cereal was ground between two stones to make a coarse flour like substance. This would have been moulded into course, flat cakes and cooked on an open fire. At around the same time in Egypt where their civilisation was more advanced, bread was commonplace. Paintings on the walls of tombs depict bread being offered to the gods. It is likely that all of these breads were leavened because the water in the Nile contains the same strain of yeast that is used in baking today!


Elsewhere the leavening of bread was beginning to become more common.  Initially this is thought to have come about by accident – the natural environment contains yeast in the air and a paste of flour and water will begin to ferment if left for a couple of hours. Some sourdough breads to this day are still made using this method.


So have cereals always been grown and milled in Britain? The answer is no. The Romans brought wheat, oats and rye over to Britain along with many of their bread making techniques. However, this new found skill of baking didn’t last long once the Romans left and during the Dark Ages, the process was very hit and miss.

 wheat harvesting 1800s

By the Middle Ages however, people had begun to use horses for ploughing. The watermill and windmill were invented and society began to get itself more organised. The loaves produced during this time were normally huge, around 4.5kg and were expected to feed a family for a week.


In Tudor times, for the poor, bread was made from a mixture of grains whilst peasant bread was made from peas and beans. Meanwhile the rich were acquiring a liking for white bread.  White bread was considered superior for two reasons, it was expensive and it implied prestige. The church used a white bread called Pandemain as the sacramental bread and people took this to mean better.


Bread in England continued to be made of mixed grains until well into the Victorian era. Imported wheat became plentiful and was milled in the ports for distribution to the growing urban population. Most breads after this time were made solely using the wheat grain.


What happens now? How is bread made?


Resources on cover the entire process from growing the crops, to harvesting, milling and baking.


For age specific resources, click on the following links:


Growing and harvesting – age 5 to 7, 7 to 11, 11 to 14 and 14-16


Milling - age 5 to 7, 7 to 11, 11 to 14 and 14-16


Baking – age 5 to 7, 7 to 11, 11 to 14 and 14-16

Ready, steady…bake!

Friday, October 15th, 2010

victoria spongeIt’s National Baking Week from 18 to 24 October so why not get your mixing bowls and spoons ready, your aprons on and get your class baking!


Most of us may remember baking with our parents or grandparents and impatiently waiting for the final products to cool so that we could ice and decorate them. Or the overwhelming sense of happiness we felt when presented with a large birthday cake, complete with candles to be blown out and wishes to be made. Maybe it’s this nostalgia and familiarity which has seen baking rise in popularity throughout the recession with 28% of home cooks now baking their favourite childhood treats at least once a week.


Of course, the word “baking” conjures up images of cakes, biscuits and buns but lots of tasty main meals can also be baked. Our recipe for tuna pasta bake makes a great main course for children to try in the classroom. You could reduce the fat content by using skimmed milk instead of semi skimmed milk and an olive or vegetable based spread instead of butter. You could also increase the vitamin and fibre content by adding more vegetables.


Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a sweet treat now and again – in fact the team are quite partial to a wedge of our delicious honey cake with our cuppas. It’ll go down really well in your staff room… and just as well with your class when they give it a go!


Baking links for lesson planning


We have ready-made lesson plans focussed on baking and we’ve highlighted them under the relevant age groups below so you can head directly to the relevant section… leaving you with more time to sit down, relax and eat that cake you’ve just baked!


If baking with children aged 5 to 7 sounds just too messy for first thing on a Monday morning, why not challenge them to virtually become the baker instead!step6


Can your class of 7 to 11 year olds complete the Freddy Flourbags challenge? This interactive quiz will not only encourage them to think about baking, but the whole of the grain chain too!


Teach your 11 to 14 class about the science behind baking.


For 14 to 16 year olds, why not encourage them to learn more about the industrial baking process


Do you know…about the history of baking?


In ancient history, the first evidence of baking occurred when humans picked wild grass grains, soaked them in water and mashed the mixture into a paste. The paste was cooked by pouring it onto a flat, hot rock, resulting in a very primitive flat bread.


Around 2500 B.C., records show that the Egyptians baked bread, through a process which they may have learnt from the Babylonians.


Baking flourished in the Roman Empire. In about 300 B.C., the pastry cook became an occupation for Romans (known as the pastillarium). Around 1 A.D., it is thought that there were more than three hundred pastry chefs in Rome.


Eventually, because of what was happening in Rome, the art of baking became known throughout Europe, and eventually spread to the eastern parts of Asia.