Today we joined a group of friends to go behind-the-scenes at Panera Bread with their Bakers-in-Training program. It’s a class designed for children 5-12, to introduce them to “kitchen essential and the fundamentals of baking.” Or in our experience- how to look cute while wearing a chef hat, squish your dough too much and then eat icing off your hands. It was actually a lot of fun, and the best bread I’ve had in a long time!
It’s designed for groups for 10-15, but it was pretty packed with 10 kids plus parents, so I wouldn’t recommend a larger group unless you have a big Panera. The first thing they do is hand out the cutest little cotton apron and chef hat. And you get to keep it! I was pretty excited that Keelan wore his hat for at least the first half of the class.
The first thing we did was take a tour of the freezer. Then they opened up the warming room (not sure of the official name) so the kids could feel the heat.
Next the kids were set up with a wad of dough. As soon as the instructor turned his back, dough was being mangled left and right. Apparently we were just supposed to stretch it out a little! So we tried to shape them into something that looked like a baguette, then everyone did a little different detail on the top so they could recognize which loaf of bread was theirs after it was cooked.
While the kids waited for the bread to cook (about 20 min.) they got to decorate pumpkin sugar cookies with icing. There was a lot more icing eating going on than cookie eating! After they were done, the instructor took the cookies away to cool them and let the icing harden up.
Next he brought out the crazy looking bread and cookies and everyone chowed down! The bread was so hot and fresh that Keelan ate more of that than he did his cookie.
The whole class lasted just under two hours. The kids all had fun! We had a group of 10, with a wide range of ages from two and up. Anyone can schedule a class as long as you have at least 10 in your group, and schedule 3 weeks in advance. It costs $20 per child, and you submit your payment all together, along with a signed waiver. It was definitely something a little different to do for an afternoon activity and the whole group enjoyed it. We even had people coming up to the table asking us what we were doing and if it was a party.
Think it looks like fun? You can schedule your own Bakers-in-Training class online at: http://bitkids.panerabread.com