Making Bread: A Tasty Way to Do Science

Making bread provides opportunities to measure, question and observe.

By Dr. Fred Stein, Consulting Educator

Making bread - even a single roll or cracker, creates opportunities for experimentation and creativity. One of the more impressive things about bread-making is how "strong" the bread is.

What You'll Need:

As yeasted bread dough rises, it exerts enormous force that can be observed, measured or harnessed for creative purposes. Then, the dough can be baked and eaten. Yum!

Here's How to Do It

Make enough dough for a couple of rolls from 1/2 cup of flour, 1/4 cup warm water, 1/2 teaspoon of yeast and a pinch of sugar (or make more if you like). Mix the sugar, warm water and yeast for five minutes and stir in the flour until well mixed. Put the dough into a container like a sandwich bag or a small Tupperware container.

How long will it take for the dough to burst out of the bag or container? Can you find a way to test how much weight the dough can lift? You could fill a cup to the brim with bread dough, cover the cup with a small paper plate and place a weight on the plate. Wait two hours to see if the dough has been able to lift the weight. Make holes in the container lid so the dough grows though the lid like hair. Be creative! Then, put your dough into a ball or two and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes until brown. Cool and eat.

Dr. Fred Stein is a science educator at the Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry, a national science-education-reform project based in San Francisco.