Tuesday, December 6, 2011

So Easy, A Preschooler Can Help Make Them: Soft Pretzels

 Note: Another version of this post is up today on "Story Time With the Library Lady"

I had done this recipe at work before but when I looked at it somehow it looked weird. Could those proportions be right?

I wanted to make pretzel dough with the kids at the library--I can't bake there as there's no oven, but I could let them help me make the dough and they could take some home to bake.

But I've only got the kids for about 1 hour, including dough making time. Needed a dough that rises quickly. The dough I had rises in 30 minutes. But could it be okay?

I surfed the web, found a similar recipe and wound up dumping the dough--it was heavy and wouldn't have baked well.

Found the original recipe and made up the yeast/water/sugar mix and watched it foam like mad.

Made the dough--it rose in 30 minutes as promised.

And I made pretzels for SC and JR. To make sure they knew whose were whose, I shaped them into their first name initials.

Thursday afternoon, I made the dough with 20 riotous preschoolers, with <sigh>minimal help from their parents. And everyone took some home.

When you bake these at home, with or without your kids, you may want to dip them in a mix of 1 TBs baking soda dissolve in 1 cup of warm water. The pretzel places at the mall do this, and I think it adds to their shiny finish.

You can brush/spray them with butter/margarine when they come out of the oven and sprinkle them with flavorings. I used some pretzel salt I bought in an Amish store in Pennsylvania, but coarse Kosher salt would work, as would cinnamon sugar. But they're fine plain too.

Pretzel Dough
3 packets (About 2 Tbs+ 1 tsp) yeast   
1 1/2 cups warm water  (make sure it's about 110 degrees for best results)
4 Tbs sugar
3 3/4 cups all purpose flour
canola or corn oil

Combine yeast, warm water and sugar in a large bowl and let it sit for about 5 minutes--it should bubble and may become foamy.

Mix in the flour to form a soft dough.
Knead, adding additional flour if needed till dough is smooth & no longer sticky.
Oil the dough lightly and cover the bowl. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet or cover it with parchment paper.1

Pull of small pieces of dough and roll them into "snakes', then shape them anyway you want.
You could make large, mall style pretzels, but you can also make smaller things. I  made 6 of the letter pretzels, six knotted ones and still had dough leftover. If using the baking soda/water mix, dip the pretzels in and place them on a baking sheet.

Bake for 5-10 minutes until pretzels are golden brown.
Brush with butter/oil and sprinkle on toppings while still warm


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