Bread making days in Indiana

For months I had dreamed of spending a lot of time with our granddaughter in Indiana. I especially wanted the fun of making bread with them. Bread making is such a gooey, tasty mess with satisfactory, immediate results.
I began our recent Saturday visit insisting that before we went visiting my husband and our Indiana bachelor had to stop at one garage sale so I could get my weekly fix. I picked out books for the youngest granddaughters a huge cloth rabbit for the rabbit collector and at my son’s insistence I fixed up his wardrobe with a couple of dress shirts.
At our first stop the 4-year-old announced, “I can talk!” Pre-school speech therapy had worked wonder erasing the language she and her sister had developed. She told me she was going to have a birthday party. The 3-year-old helped her show me the family treasures while we waited for their baby sister to wake up and show me how she crawled.
We crashed at the oldest brother’s house for a Mexican lunch. I saw the garage sale next door as we drove up. The 13-year-old granddaughter picked out the R. L. Stine books she wanted her mother and me to buy for her.
As I digested tacos their 5-year-old niece told me her kindergarten class had chased the gingerbread man through the cafeteria, down the hall and into the library.
The granddaughters and I made a list of ingredients we needed for bread and cinnamon rolls.
“Let’s walk to the store to buy them,” they insisted.
Walking is not usual mode of transportation but if they would make bread, I would walk down the street, across the department store and mall parking lots to the grocery store nearest their house.
We weighed the merits of shortening, lard and margarine. I explained that white flour makes better biscuits while bread flour yields the gluten needed for good yeast breads.
When we added water to the yeast, they asked “What is yeast?”
“Ohhh, a fungus … like mold.”
“Oooohhh, yuck!” they said.
Bread making takes a lot of muscle power. I had the girls stir. I had my son stir. I stirred. I told them to add more flour and knead the sticky dough on the counter until it became a silky smooth lump.
“Now we need to let the bread rest,” I said placing a damp cloth on top.
“Don’t wake it up,” I cautioned the curious 5-year-old.
An hour later I showed them how one good punch deflated the yeast-inflated dough back to its original size. I handed each wad of dough to make into bread, rolls, cinnamon rolls and cheese bread. While the older ones decided what to make, the 5-year-old industriously mad big and little balls to put together doughboys. Sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, she dubbed them cinnamon gingerbread men.
I spent an hour juggling pans and trays in the oven. As the daylight faded we feasted on fresh bread, cheesy bread and cinnamon rolls with frosting. Just like I had dreamed of doing.