The easiest way to get your kids interested in food is to get them involved in the kitchen. Working together to prepare a family favourite or test out a new recipe provides a great learning opportunities – cooking is all about fractions and chemistry, right? These soft pretzels are an ideal cook-with-your-kids project that will introduce them to the magic of working with yeast. They’d also be great to bake up and take with you on an an outdoor adventure!
- 1 cup (250 mL) warm water (100°F to 110°F)
- 5 tablespoons (70 g) white sugar, divided
- 1.5 teaspoons (7 g) active dry yeast
- 2.5 – 3 cups (565 – 680 g) all-purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoons (7 g) salt
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) canola oil
- 1/4 cup (55 g) baking soda
- 1 large egg
- Coarse salt
- Pour warm water and 2 teaspoons (10 g) of sugar into a large bowl (use a stand mixer with dough hook if you have one) and stir to combine. Sprinkle with yeast, and let sit for about 8 minutes, until yeast is nice and foamy.
- Add 1 cup (225 g) of flour to the activated yeast and mix on low speed until combined. Add salt and 1.5 cups (340 g) more flour, and mix until combined, about 30 seconds.
- Beat on medium-low until the dough begins to come together in a ball and starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl (2 – 3 minutes). Add another 1/4 cup (55 g) flour, and knead on low for 1 minute. If the dough is still too sticky to handle, add 1/4 cup (55g) more flour; knead until thoroughly combined.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter, and knead by hand for about 2 minutes. The dough should now be smooth and elastic.
- Pour the canola oil into a medium bowl (twice the size of the dough ball). Place the dough in the bowl and turn the dough over and over to coat completely with oil.
- Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel (an oven preheated to 170F then turned off is great for this) for 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size. Send the kids outdoors to play while this is happening!
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (two sheets if making small pretzels). Punch down dough in the bowl, to remove bubbles. Transfer to a lightly floured counter.
- Knead the dough a few times just to bring it together into a ball again then divide into 8 pieces (about 1/3 cup (80 g) of dough for each piece) or 16 if making small pretzels (3 tablespoons (40 g) of dough per piece). Separate the pieces of dough from each other on the countertop and cover them with a clean tea towel.
- Roll one piece of dough at a time into a 24 inch (60 cm) long rope about ½ inch (1.25 cm) thick; form it into a u-shape then twist the two ends of the rope in the middle and draw the twist towards the rounded part of the U to form a classic pretzel shape.
- Transfer the shaped dough to the prepared baking sheet and cover with a clean tea towel. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Let pretzels rest for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450F and fill a large, shallow pot with 4 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add remaining 3 teaspoons (14 g) of sugar along with the baking soda. Stir to combine well and reduce heat so the liquid is just simmering.
- Gently place three or four pretzels in the hot water bath and cook one minute per side, then remove with a slotted spoon and put back on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue with remaining pretzels.
- Beat egg with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water. Brush pretzels with egg glaze. Sprinkle with salt. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
- Let cool briefly on a wire rack, then eat while still warm, served with your favourite mustard (or mustard and mayonnaise combined) as a dipping sauce.
- Pretzels are best when eaten the same day, but can be frozen and reheated in the oven very nicely.
Makes 8 full-sized or 16 small pretzels.
*Note: I originally developed this recipe Capital Parent Newspaper; it is available online at: http://capitalparent.ca/blog/2014/2/13/soft-ballpark-style-pretzel-recipe