If I happen to look out of my classroom window at about half past one on a Wednesday afternoon, I can be sure to see a small procession of Form 1 cooks, with hands freshly washed and sleeves rolled up, all heading off with Mrs Brown to the Food Technology Room in Upper School. These children have enjoyed cooking activities from their earliest days in Nursery, but Form 1 is the first year they go to the Food Technology Room for their lessons.
Food Technology is a very tightly ordered business at Eversfield. The recipes are carefully chosen to allow for progression, as well as building in regular practice of key skills. Behind the scenes, Mrs Cannings does an enormous amount of preparatory work, sourcing the ingredients and setting out the equipment ready for use. She is always there waiting for the children when they arrive, undertaking one final check of hands, and tying aprons, and then the lesson begins.
Last week, the children learnt how to make chocolate scones. Reviewing the lesson objectives prior to writing this blog, I was struck by just how much Maths is involved in any cookery lesson. Not only do we have weighing the flour and the sugar, and reading the kitchen scales accurately, there is also estimation as the children work out how much milk to add to their mixture in order to form a soft dough. Not to mention rolling out the dough into a rectangle and cutting it into nine evenly sized squares. During any cookery lesson, Mrs Brown and Mrs Cannings will be talking to the children constantly, asking them questions and keeping them focused on the different processes they need to complete.
Of these, possibly the trickiest to get right is rubbing in the flour and butter. It is finger tip work, if you want to achieve a light airy dough, so the temptation to plunge in up to your wrists has to be avoided at all costs. It’s a sticky job, too, as the children discovered. Having said that, the tactile nature of the method greatly appealed to the children. Pippa loved the feel of the mixture, and getting their hands messy was a real highlight for many of the cooks.
The milk was added with admirable precision, and the children were good at judging when the mixture reached the right consistency to be brought together and rolled out. Liam noticed that mixing became more difficult as the dough began to bind, whilst Jessica was pleased at how soft her dough felt.
Once the dough was on the baking tray, and had been placed by an adult into the oven, it was a waiting game for the group. Waiting for the amazing alchemy of cooking to transform something wet and sticky into something dry and crumbly that you can eat for your tea. Meanwhile, the washing up was calling. Since we had the Food Technology Room reconfigured during the last year’s summer holiday to relocate the ovens, it has become much easier for the children to get involved with this, and provides an excellent opportunity for everyone to work together.
Sometimes, depending on the recipe, time dictates that the children need to return later to collect their cookery. Where possible, however, the food is removed from the oven and allowed to cool before being placed in the containers brought from home. Children’s names written on a piece of baking paper ensure that none of the cookery is muddled up.
Parents of Form 1, if your child is cooking this half term, I very much hope that you enjoyed the chocolate scones. By way of summing up, I should add that the teacher, or Mrs Cannings, who has been supervising the food technology at Eversfield for longer than she cares to remember, always models the process for the children every step of the way. Luckily for teachers, her sample bakes normally find their way into the staff room, so people often find an urgent reason to head up there at the end of the day on a Wednesday. The chocolate scones were so good that, by the time I got there, all that was left was a plate of crumbs. I know that Form 1 have some more delicious bakes to look forward to before the end of this half term, so I will just have to be a bit quicker next time!