Soft Pretzels

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Soft Pretzels

A cooking project that can keep kids busy while also offering something good to eat at the end of the day is something dreams are made of. Bread never seemed like a kid-friendly task as making it can be intimidating. All that kneading and shaping the dough and waiting for it to rise; it just doesn’t seem like something that antsy kids would be excited to try. On top of being wary of the kid-friendly factor of making bread, getting a good make-at-home recipe for bread is a challenge. The final product is never crusty enough or fluffy enough or flavorful enough. So all in all, bread never seemed like a viable option for a kid cooking project.

Yet, it’s hard to shake the idea of making bread with kids. You have to admit that the dough would definitely be fun for kids to play with. Children love to play with sticky, squishy things and it just makes sense that bread dough would be fun! Coming up with a nice doughy recipe seemed necessary but what to make?

One day, after thinking about this bread dough predicament, the idea finally came- soft pretzels! While not quite bread, soft pretzels are doughy, they need to be shaped and they are delicious! When making bread, one tends to expect a nice crunchy crust, which is difficult to produce at home. Soft pretzels don’t have a crust; this makes them perfect for a non- commercial oven. The dough can easily be divided into many pieces which lends to the idea that this is a great thing for kids to help with. Pretzels are also fairly healthy in the grand scheme of snack food. This was definitely something that needed to be tried!

Making the pretzel dough is the first step and is simple enough. While you can definitely make the dough by hand (another great task for kids if you don’t mind them having super sticky hands), using a stand mixer makes it so much easier. The few ingredients are thrown in the bowl and a dough hook attachment does the rest of the work. Kids can help with this step by measuring the ingredients into the bowl and also monitoring the texture of the dough. If it’s looking too sticky, have the kids add a little more flour; too dry, add a touch of water. Once they finally approve of the dough, it is wrapped up and left to rise.

While the dough does need to be left alone for a little bit as it rises, this can be a nice break in the project. Dough needs to rise in a nice cool place and you should also inform your kids that if the bowl is hit, shaken or even if a noise is a little too loud, the dough may fall and be ruined. This information may buy you a little bit of peace and quiet- “Don’t be too loud the dough might collapse!” or “Try not to run around right now, you might shake the dough!”

When the dough has risen, punch it down (the fun job for whichever kid has been behaving the best) and then divide it into as many pieces as you need. Seven kids and 14 pieces of dough! Then, let the creativity begin! Dough can be shaped into almost anything and while it is true that the less it is handled, the tastier the pretzels, let the kids go crazy. Older kids can try to actually shape the dough into a pretzel, while younger children can make fun ‘blobs’.

After the dough shaping part of the pretzel project is done, the dough has to rise again and then it’s ready to bake. You can also add seasonings to the pretzels before baking them if you’d like. Salt is always a classic but some parmesan cheese, garlic powder or even cinnamon sugar are all great options. Another fun choice that your kids can make!

Kids typically love being able to eat their masterpieces and it’s great that they can be part of this project from beginning to end. Making soft pretzels is a lesson in baking, measuring (yay math!) and also a tactile experience. Oh, and don’t forget about being rewarded for their hard work with a snack in the end!

The soft pretzel project was a definite success and it is great for kids of all ages. Finally a dough project that everyone can participate in with a delicious end result! Give this pretzel recipe a try just be sure to give yourself enough time as it can take a few hours.

Recipe

Soft Pretzels
Yields12 Servings
Prep Time3 hrsCook Time10 minsTotal Time3 hrs 10 mins

Ingredients

 4 tsp dry yeast
 1.50 tsp sugar
 1 ¼ cups water
 5 cups flour
 ¼ cup sugar
  cup honey
 2 tsp salt
 1 tbsp oil
 ½ cup baking soda
 3 ¾ cups water

Directions

1

Place the yeast and 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar in 1 1/4 cup warm water. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes or until very foamy. Stir in the honey

2

In a separate large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Add the oil and yeast mixture and mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two more tablespoons of water. If it is too wet, add 1/4 cup more flour.

3

Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. If using a mixer, mix with the dough hook attachment for 6 minutes.

4

Lightly oil a new large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

5

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and grease 2 baking sheets.

6

In another large bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the 3 3/4 cups hot water and set aside for now.

7

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces (or however many you need to have enough for each kid!). Shape each piece as desired.

8

Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt or the topping of your choice.

9

Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly then enjoy!

Ingredients

 4 tsp dry yeast
 1.50 tsp sugar
 1 ¼ cups water
 5 cups flour
 ¼ cup sugar
  cup honey
 2 tsp salt
 1 tbsp oil
 ½ cup baking soda
 3 ¾ cups water

Directions

1

Place the yeast and 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar in 1 1/4 cup warm water. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes or until very foamy. Stir in the honey

2

In a separate large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt. Add the oil and yeast mixture and mix and form into a dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two more tablespoons of water. If it is too wet, add 1/4 cup more flour.

3

Knead the dough until smooth, about 7 to 8 minutes. If using a mixer, mix with the dough hook attachment for 6 minutes.

4

Lightly oil a new large bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

5

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and grease 2 baking sheets.

6

In another large bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the 3 3/4 cups hot water and set aside for now.

7

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces (or however many you need to have enough for each kid!). Shape each piece as desired.

8

Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda-hot water solution and place pretzels on baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt or the topping of your choice.

9

Bake in preheated oven until browned, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly then enjoy!

Soft Pretzels

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