Thursday, August 2, 2018

Follow up

On the other hand, this Seeing-Thinking Activity, produced and promoted by the NYT looks to be both an excellent resource and a lot of fun!

Thinking about critical thinking skills

Making predictions is good.  It can even be a lot of fun.  So why does the method of teaching children to think about what they are reading (DR-TA) feel so cumbersome and legalistic?

1.  cf C.S. Lewis's looking along the beam vs. looking at the beam.  This seems to take materials that are meant to be looked *along*, to be enjoyed, and to turn them into something to be looked *at*, at a possibly developmentally inappropriate stage.

2.  It increases for the students the sense that there is right and wrong as regards prediction and interactions with texts.  Conflating accurate / inaccurate with moral / immoral. 

3.  It becomes cumbersome and tedious to children who predict automatically and accurately, slowing down and interfering with the actual enjoyment of the book.

4.  For children's books which may operate with an element of surprise (many), it functions to ruin the joke by explaining the joke.  (Q:  Tell me class, why did the author do this?  A:  To be silly.  To make me laugh.)

5.  The focusing on the "what" obscures the "how."  Better questions:  Did you like what happened?  Would you have done the same thing? 

Critical idea:  give children "ownership" of their literature . . . let  them be free to stand over it in judgement, not just under it, needing to "get it right." 

So, perhaps I believe that this method of evaluating is not appropriate to materials that are to be consumed in one sitting, or by children who are too young to critically evaluate?  Maybe we should encourage young kids to wonder and let the wondering be?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

King's Cake, 2018: Well THAT was a success

Since I never follow the recipe, and don't always remember how I adjusted what, here are this year's notes on what I did with the recipe and how it worked:  

I used regular butter and 1/4 c LF milk.  I cut the sugar in the dough down from 3 TBSP to 1 TBSP.  For the filling, I used 1/2 c dark brown sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 c chopped walnuts.  The dough was quite crumbly, but patchable.  The recipe calls for rolling it out into a 10"  x 30" rectangle.  I think it could have gone that far . . . but it would have been impossible to jelly roll at that point.    I rolled it into a 12" x 18" rectangle and then jelly rolled it with a silicon baking mat.  It didn't handle well at all when I tried to shape the log into a circle.  It just broke.  We just baked the broken pieces.  I let it rise about 15 minutes and then baked it for 20.  

For glaze:  ~ 1 cup powdered sugar with 3 TBSP lemon juice and 3 TBSP water.  Colored green and gold sugar, and some of the glaze with purple food coloring.

Flavor and texture with this "cake" was phenomenal.  The dough was almost like pie crust in richness and flakiness.  The balance of spice, sweetness and tang with the cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon in the glaze was great.  No worries about this one not being pretty . . . it didn't last long enough to matter.  

* * * 

Gluten Free Kings Cake
§  ¼  to ½ cup warm water (110 F)
§  1 Tbs. granulated cane sugar
§  1 TBSP yeast
§  ½  cup unsalted butter or non-dairy alternative (coconut oil)
  •  1/8 to ¼  cup warm milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 3 cups GF flour
  • ½  tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½  tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. milk (dairy or non-dairy) for brushing on pastry before baking (or egg wash?) (optional)
§  Filling Ingredients:
  • ¾  cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 ½  tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup flour (optional)
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped (optional)
  • 2/3  cup chopped pecans (optional)


Prepare the filling by tossing the chopped apples together with the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, melt the 4 tablespoons butter, and set both bowls aside.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water, 1 tablespoon sugar and yeast; stir and set aside to proof. If the mixture is not bubbly and doubled in volume after 5-10 minutes, toss out and start again with fresh yeast.
In a large mixing bowl, blend the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add the milk and eggs and beat until well-integrated. Add only 2 cups of flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg and mix well. Stir in the proofed yeast-sugar-water mixture, then add the remaining 1 cup flour. Beat another 1-2 minutes, until the dough is clumping together and is not too sticky.

Prepare a large baking sheet by lining with parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a silicone pastry mat or onto a clean counter dusted lightly with flour (be sure to have enough counter space, at least 30 inches wide).
Roll the dough out to an elongated rectangle 24-30 inches long by 9-10 inches wide. Brush on the melted butter, coating the entire rectangle.
Sprinkle the filling mixture on top of the melted butter, spreading to the ends of the rectangle, but leaving 1/2-1 inch without toppings on each of the long sides of the rectangle.
Using a bench scraper or a spatula, gently peel up one of the long sides of the rectangle and begin rolling it as you would a jelly roll. Once the entire pastry is rolled upon itself until no pastry remains unrolled, a 24-30 inch long roll will remain. Gently pull the two ends of the roll together to form a circle or oval.
Dabbing the ends of the pastry with water, join the ends together to close the circle. Gently transfer the ring to the parchment-lined baking sheet, or transfer the ring on the silicone baking mat to the baking sheet.

Brush the milk on top of the exposed pastry, then using a large sharp knife, make a cut in the top of the pastry every 2 inches to expose one layer of the roll.
Spray a sheet of wax paper with cooking oil, then cover the cake and let rise in a warm spot for 20-30 minutes like a warming drawer or an oven heated to 200º F then turned off.

Preheat oven to 350º F (static)

Remove the wax paper from the cake and bake for 20-25 minutes.