Welcome to Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly set of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, hands-on experiments, and activities paired with suggestions for how to bring learning to life in the kitchen.
Set aside some time for this edition of Kitchen Classroom for a Weekend Project. Kids will make a tasty flatbread topped with za’atar and olive oil, inspired by mana’eesh, a round Arabic flatbread. After baking, they’ll practice using a ruler and finding the perimeter and area of their rectangular bread in the Learning Moment. , and then snack on one piece while they find the perimeter of another! Then in Take It Further, kids learn what exactly za’atar is and how to make their own version of this spice blend at home.
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Young chefs can set aside some time this weekend to make this flavorful flatbread that’s a perfect afternoon snack. After stretching the yeasted dough to fill the baking sheet, kids will top it with a mixture of olive oil and za’atar, a spice blend frequently used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Kids can dip their bread into Greek yogurt or labneh, a tangy, very thick Middle Eastern yogurt.
What You’ll Need:
Vegetable oil spray
2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, measured separately
1⅓ cups (10⅔ ounces) ice water
3½ cups (19¼ ounces) bread flour
2½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2½ teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup za’atar spice blend
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the dough: Spray rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Pour 2 tablespoons oil over baking sheet and use pastry brush to evenly coat baking sheet with oil.
In liquid measuring cup, combine ice water and next 2 tablespoons oil.
Add flour, yeast, and sugar to food processor and lock lid into place. Hold down pulse button for 1 second, then release. Repeat until ingredients are combined, about five 1-second pulses.
Turn on processor, then slowly pour water mixture through feed tube and process until dough comes together and no dry flour remains, about 30 seconds.
Stop processor. Let dough sit for 10 minutes. Add salt to processor and process for 1 minute.
Stop processor, remove lid, and carefully remove processor blade (ask an adult for help). Lightly spray clean counter and your hands with vegetable oil spray. Transfer dough to greased counter and use your hands to knead dough for 30 seconds using this method:
- Place heel of your hand in center of dough ball and press down and away from you.
- Fold dough over. Rotate dough and repeat steps 1 & 2 until dough looks smooth.
Place dough on oiled baking sheet and turn to coat with oil on both sides. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until bubbly and nearly tripled in size, 2 to 2½ hours.
To finish and bake: While dough rises, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. In small bowl, use spoon to stir together za’atar and remaining ¼ cup oil.
When dough is ready, use your hands to gently press down on dough to pop any large bubbles. Shape and top dough using this method:
- Use your hands to gently pat and stretch dough out to corners of baking sheet. If the dough snaps back when you press it to corners of baking sheet, cover it with plastic wrap, let it rest for 10 minutes, and try again.
- Use your fingertips to dimple entire surface of dough.
Spoon za’atar-oil mixture over dough and use back of spoon to spread into even layer all the way to edge of dough.
Place baking sheet in oven. Bake bread until edges are crisp and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
Use oven mitts to remove baking sheet from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking sheet on cooling rack and let bread cool in baking sheet for 15 minutes.
Use spatula to loosen edges of bread, then carefully slide bread onto cutting board. Use pizza wheel or chef’s knife to cut bread into pieces. Serve.
Math (Measurement: Area and Perimeter):
In this recipe, young chefs stretch their dough to fill a rimmed baking sheet, creating a rectangular flatbread that’s a perfect vehicle on which to practice using a ruler and taking measurements. Challenge kids to practice using a ruler while making this recipe. Remind them that they should line up the “0” on the ruler with the edge of the item they’d like to measure, such as the inner rim baking sheet, and hold the ruler level. Ask them what the different marks on the ruler mean, and remind them if they get stuck (the longest ones mark an inch, the next longest mark half inches, then quarter inches, and so on).
After sliding their flatbread onto a cutting board in step 12, ask kids to calculate the perimeter of the flatbread before cutting it into pieces.
Start by asking kids to share what they know about what perimeter is and how to calculate it.
Confirm for kids that perimeter is the distance around the outside of a two-dimensional shape. For a rectangle, it’s found by adding the lengths and widths of the sides together.
Ask kids: What is the perimeter of the flatbread? It should be roughly the same size as the rimmed baking sheet, which is typically 8 inches wide and 13 inches long.
(Answer: 8 inches + 8 inches + 13 inches + 13 inches = 42 inches. If their flatbread measures a little smaller, their perimeter will also be smaller.)
Then, ask kids if they know what area is and how to calculate it.
Confirm for kids that area is the space occupied by a two-dimensional shape (i.e., the space inside the perimeter of the flatbread). In rectangles, it’s found by multiplying the length by the width.
Ask kids: What is the area of the flatbread?
(Answer: 8 inches x 13 inches = 104 square inches)
Then, kids can proceed with cutting the bread into approximately equal pieces. Ask kids: What is the perimeter of one piece of bread? Have them measure one piece’s length and width, and add them together. (If they’re comfortable adding fractions or decimals, kids can measure to the nearest quarter inch. Remember that ¼ = .25; ½ = .5; and ¾ = .75. If this isn’t comfortable for kids yet, they can round to the nearest inch.)
(Example: 3¼ inches + 3¼ inches + 2¾ inches + 2¾ inches = 12 inches; or 3 inches + 3 inches + 3 inches + 3 inches = 12 inches)
Take It Further
Social Studies (Culture):
Za’atar is what gives this flatbread its powerful aroma and flavor. But what exactly is it? Tell kids that za’atar is a spice blend that’s popular in Middle Eastern cuisines, and you can find it in many different dishes. It can be found mixed with olive oil for dipping bread, drizzled over hummus, or sprinkled over meat and fish.
Kids can make their own za’atar with just three ingredients: dried thyme; sesame seeds; and ground sumac, a tart, fruity, deep-red spice. Instruct kids to make their own batch of za’atar that they can use to spice up roasted vegetables, hummus, popcorn, and anything else they’d like to add a sprinkle of spice to!
What You’ll Need:
½ cup dried thyme
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted and cooled
1½ tablespoons ground sumac
Small jar with tight-fitting lid
To Make Za’atar
Working in batches, place thyme in spice grinder and process until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Transfer ground thyme to small jar with tight-fitting lid.
Add toasted sesame seeds and sumac to jar. Cover jar with lid to seal. Shake until combined. (Za’atar can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 month.)