Snacks & Treats
By Julie Van Rosendaal, Dinner with Julie
Mar 9, 2015
When school is out for a while and you’re not off on a beach somewhere, it’s good to have a few projects up your sleeve to keep the kids busy. Cooking projects are the very best way to spend time off-screen together—kids learn the basics of reading, math, measuring—even some science when you work with ingredients like yeast. And at the end, you have something delicious to eat.
Homemade pretzels are the perfect project no matter what age your kids are—they can all knead, punch and roll the dough into shapes that are boiled, then baked for a dense, chewy interior. The finished dough should be smooth and slightly tacky, but not too sticky—knead in more flour if it is. And don’t worry about overkneading—everyone can take a turn working the big ball of dough. If you want to slow the rise, put the dough in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Shape them into rings to make bagels, and experiment with different toppings, like sesame seeds or even tomato sauce and grated cheese for pizza pretzels.
Beyond pretzels, this dough can be shaped into letters, numbers, or whatever your kids can imagine.
- 2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup milk, warmed
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. canola or olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
- 2 L water
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 4 Tbsp. baking soda
In a large bowl, stir the yeast into about half of the water (measure it, then just pour a bit into the bowl to make sure the yeast is active); let it sit for about 10 minutes. If it’s not foamy, toss it out and buy fresh yeast.
Add the rest of the water, milk and canola oil to the yeast, then stir in about 3 cups of flour and the salt. Add about a cup more flour, and when it becomes too difficult to stir, turn it out onto the counter top and start kneading. Once all the flour is incorporated, keep kneading, adding extra flour if it’s too sticky, for about 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for an hour.
Cut the dough into about a dozen pieces and roll each into a rope. Twist to shape the pretzels, then let rest for 15 minutes while you bring 2 L of water to a rolling boil with the salt and baking soda and preheat the oven to 425°F.
Boil a few at a time, so you don’t crowd the pot (they will swell), and simmer for about a minute per side. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt as soon as they come out of the water, so that it sticks.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Makes about a dozen pretzels.
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