Thursday, November 29, 2012

Making Pretzels

We're nearing the end of spring and I still have a few Spring Goals that I need to work on. I've made a few breads so far, including a naan that got burnt and thrown out when I wasn't home, pizza, and cinnamon buns. I figured adding one more to the list would complete the goal, so as a fun activity with the boys, we made pretzels.

I made the dough before Nathan got home from school so that by the time he had finished all his "coming home from school" things, the dough would be ready to go.

As soon as the boys arrived in the kitchen, Caleb wanted to touch everything. He touched the mat, he touched the flour and he touched the dough. It's a good thing the boys washed their hands before all this. 

Caleb was so excited, he couldn't keep still and I couldn't get a picture without at least one the of the boys being blurry, so Nathan showed Caleb how to pause. 

Finally, we got a semi-decent picture of the boys waiting to get started. Caleb started getting antsy again so that was my cue to stop taking pictures and get going with this project.

First, I divided the dough into 12 pieces and gave the boys each a piece. The rest went back into the bowl to be covered so they wouldn't dry out. 

Poor Caleb, as soon as I handed him his piece, he was so happy he finally got his piece and he stuck it straight into his mouth. I guess I should have explained to him that it wasn't ready for eating yet. 

After explaining this to Caleb, we rolled out the dough into long ropes. Caleb's still learning how to do that so he ended up pushing his piece back and forth across the floured mat but  Nathan managed to get some nice long ropes.

Caleb was goofing off with his dough rope the whole time. As you can see, his older brother thought this was hilarious.

I showed them how to twist the rope into a pretzel shape.

Nathan did really well for his first try. He gave that first one to his brother (who decided to copy the pretzel and cross his arms, I think) and helped his brother twist his.

Caleb had other shapes in mind. He scrunched up that rope like it was nobody's business.

And here's the important part: dipping each pretzel into a solution of baking soda and water. Remember how I like to do a whole lot of research before I try out new recipes? Well, in my research, I learned that this part is essential for the pretzel achieving the browned outside. Without it, you'd have a pasty white pretzel and that's not appetizing at all.

Andrew joined in on the action and soon we had a couple pans filled with pretzels of all different shapes and sizes, ready to be baked. 

Eight minutes later, we pulled these babies out of the oven. Nice and golden. 

Instead of sprinkling salt over the pretzels, I left them plain. Afterwards, we brushed some melted butter on top and dipped them. 

Salt, or cinnamon sugar?


4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water 
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
1/4 cup kosher salt, for topping

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt. Make a well in the centre, add oil and yeast mixture, and mix to form dough. If the mixture is dry, add one or two tablespoons of water. 
3. Kneed dough until smooth, about 7-8 minutes.
4. Lightly coat dough with oil and place in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 
5. Preheat oven 450F (230C). In a large bowl, dissolve baking soda in hot water.
6. When risen, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 equal pieces. 
7. Roll each piece into a rope and twist into pretzel shape. Once all of the dough is shaped, dip each pretzel into the baking soda solution and place on a greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
8. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes, until browned.

Make sure to grease your pan well, these pretzels will stick.
Instead of sprinkling with salt, I brushed the baked pretzels with butter and dipped (or sprinkled) salt or cinnamon sugar.



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