My kids love to help in the kitchen, but usually get bored quickly. Rolling and shaping pretzels is a perfect activity for them because they can “be interested” as long as they want, plus all sorts of fun shapes can be made with the dough. Some of our favorite things to make are shapes, letters, numbers, and the traditional pretzel twist.
A few weeks back my younger kid’s preschool teacher asked if I would come in and make pretzels during the preschool class. I was excited to share and happily agreed! It is so fun to work with a group of 10 preschoolers and see each different approach to a task. Some of the students were confident in their limited kitchen skills where others wanted you next to them every step of the way. I had a great time baking with them and hope I can do it again this school year!
Now these pretzels are good, so even if you don’t have little hands to help you in the kitchen I recommend you give these a try. They are simple, versatile and bake quickly. When you taste them you will wonder why you ever spent $3 on a pretzel at the mall!?!
Feel free to be creative with the toppings. The favorites in our house are the traditional salt or butter with cinnamon and sugar, but you could also top them with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, seasoning salt, parmesan cheese…yum, the sky’s the limit! Then there are lots of fun sauces to dip them in, so have fun and let your creative juices flow.
The other great thing about these pretzels? (As if I need more evidence to convince you to make them!) They can be made in advance and left to rise in the refrigerator, or made and baked with a one hour rise on the counter, do whatever works best for your schedule. Personally, I like to make the dough at night, when the kids are in bed, and then have it in the fridge to make when the time is right. All you have to do is pull it out about 30 minutes before shaping to let it warm up a bit, so easy.
I love to serve these for an afternoon snack, appetizers, or with a hearty bowl of stew!
Softy and Simple Pretzels
Adapted from allrecipes.com
- 4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. olive oil
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- 2 cups hot water
- salt or cinnamon, sugar and melted butter for topping
In a small bowl mix the yeast and sugar together. Add the warm water and whisk to combine. Set the mixture aside for 10 minutes, or until the top is creamy.
In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt.
Stir the yeast and water mixture into the flour and mix to form a dough (it will seem dry, just keep mixing to get everything incorporated.) Knead the dough until smooth (either by hand or in the stand mixer with your dough hook attachment), 7-8 minutes.
Place the oil in a medium sized bowl and roll around the edges to cover in oil. Place the dough in the bowl and roll the ball around until covered. At this point you can:
1. Put a lid on the bowl and place in the refrigerator to rise overnight, or a minimum of about 8 hours or
2. Let the dough rise, covered with a towel, in a warm spot for about an hour.
When the dough has risen and you are ready to shape your pretzels preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into two equal halves. At this point you have to decide if you are making small pretzels (about 3-4 inches) or large ones. For the small pretzels break each piece of dough into 12 equal sized balls, about the size of a golf ball. For large pretzels, break each piece of dough into 6 equal sized balls.
At this point you need to roll each ball into a long “snake”, about 18 inches long for small pretzels, and 25-30 inches long for large. This takes a little work with your hands. I like to roll the dough on the counter and stretch it with my hands at the same time, but do what works for you. Once the dough is long enough form the shape you desire and set aside. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.
Just before baking, mix the baking soda and hot water in a shallow dish, until the soda is dissolved. Dip each pretzel in this solution and place on the parchment lined sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake, or skip the salting and place directly in the oven for cinnamon and sugar post baking. Bake for about 9 minutes, or until the pretzels are a deep golden color. It is easy to under and over bake the pretzels so keep a close eye on them.
When the pretzels are done remove to a cooling rack.
For the cinnamon and sugar pretzels “paint” with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and sugar!